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The BMW L6 and L7: The Opposite of M

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2016

If you're any sort of car enthusiast, you undoubtedly know about BMW's M cars. M stands for "motorsport," and BMW's sporty M models offer better performance than traditional, non-M BMWs. But did you know that BMW once offered... L cars?

It's true. In the mid-1980s, just as the whole M thing was getting started, BMW rolled out two L models: the L6 and the L7. No, they weren't slightly toned-down versions of upcoming M cars, since L comes before M in the alphabet. Instead, L stood for "luxury" -- these were intended to be luxurious special models, just as the M cars were intended to be high-performance special models.

Here's how it went down: BMW debuted the U.S.-market 7 Series sometime in the early 1980s. Debuting soon after that was the luxurious L7, which featured all the standard 7 Series model's luxuries as standard equipment, including an automatic transmission, a driver airbag and leather upholstery. L7 models even had extra leather upholstery on the dashboard and door panels. The L6 was the same thing, just for the 6 Series: a high-end model with additional luxury trim and a standard automatic transmission.

Given that this all occurred 30 years ago, I'm not quite sure what happened next, but I do know the L6 and L7 didn't survive to see another generation. The 6 Series in general was axed in favor of the larger 8 Series, which debuted for the 1991 model year. Meanwhile, the 7 Series simply got more luxurious, which probably made the L7 redundant.

Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz recently revived the L7 concept with the latest version of its Maybach -- essentially an ultra-high-end luxury version of the S-Class sedan rather than an entirely new model like the earlier Maybach.

As for BMW, the M cars are flourishing, but the L models are now exclusively relics from another era. Wouldn't it be funny if things had gone the other way?

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The BMW L6 and L7: The Opposite of M - Autotrader