BMW showed in detail a concept car that was developed in the 1990s and has never been shown to the public, having remained the property of insiders for 25 years. Now, however, the ZBF 7er model has been shown to the world: a video published on the BMW Group Classic YouTube channel proves that the giant “nostrils” of the radiator grille, for which modern BMWs are criticized, is far from a new idea.
The ZBF 7er concept car was built in 1996 and was the forerunner of the BMW 7 Series (E65), which appeared five years later and replaced the third generation sedan (E38). The concept received side windows, similar to the windows of the serial “seven”, as well as futuristic elements – sliding door handles and miniature cameras instead of outside mirrors.
Like the 7 Series sedan, the ZBF 7er double grille has a thin chrome surround and vertical sipes, but its shape and “bloated” dimensions are closer to the grille of modern M3 and M4, which many compare with teeth or nostrils. Despite the fact that the video is mainly devoted to the exterior of the model, and BMW designer Joji Nagashima talks about it, the rear of the car remained behind the scenes.
The ZBF 7er is an all-running concept with a body made mostly of metal, unlike many show cars assembled for demonstration purposes. Tires for large (over 19 inches) rims of the model were made to order, and the tread pattern was cut by hand.
The wood-trimmed interior is rich in electronics, featuring an early version of the iDrive infotainment system introduced in the 7 Series, and small laptops integrated into the front seat backrests. For back row passengers, there is also a table and a separate control panel for various systems.