BMW 7-series E23

A few hundred years ago, before Communism and Hitler and a reputation as plumbers, Poland had kings. Well, sort of. They were elected, which meant that the local lords would gather in a field and choose which of the foreign princes that showed up would serve their own interests best.
Of course, this wasn't democracy, it was anarchy. The dukes, nobles and other assorted aristocracy had their own interests at heart, and would therefore choose the weakest of the contenders to manipulate to their own whims and fancies. , The fatter, wealthier and lazier the better. These historic meetings took place in Wola, in a field outside the city proper, and it is on a road called Elekcyna, or Election Street, that I found the BMW E23.

If you've never understood BMW's confusing number system, the E codes represent every model developed, but not all E's necessarily entered production, as E stands for Entwicklung (evolution). That means that there were twenty-two models between the code's introduction in 1967, and the hulking 7-series seen here from 1977. Those ten years included the magnificently aggressive E21, the swanky businessman's E12 and the gloriously humungous E3, known as the Big Six and the direct precursor to the rotting hulk of the E23.

With a lineage as proud and noble as this, it would usually be considered a crime against history to allow a Crown Jewel to tarnish on the pavement like this matt black box, but in these circumstances, the Poles have yet again elected in Wola the least able to rule. If you know your history of Poland, there was Augustus II, elected not just for his strength but for his love of the finer arts. Beauty and power combined, he's the E3. His elected son, the foppish chinless dandy Augustus III, is the E23, who had to abdicate after unanimously being declared rubbish by his peers.

The Big Six line of BMWs was introduced as the large-scale luxury model in an attempt to rally its flag against that pretender to the throne, Mercedes-Benz, and it succeeded. The E3 earned a stalwart reputation as a heavy cruiser with sporty capabilities and Bavaria's best in terms of refinement. The sharp-faced upstart conceived to replace it was the newly-designated 7-series E23. Little is known of the E23's pre-coronation versions and prototypes, but by the time it took its seat of power it was a bloated drunkard hiding under levels of gaudy chromework and acres of leather. The rear end suffers the ignoble droop of similar period Jaguars, and the Big Six reputation of the engine was drowned by a thirsty carburretor setup that required a retainer of servants to keep the thing topped up.

If you were going to cruise from your duchy of, in Augustus' case, Saxony, and in the E23's case, Bavaria, to your newly aquired territory, then of course, you have to do it in style, and in fairness the E23 is not the ugliest offspring of BMW's loins. Unlike Prince Harry, you can at least see who its parents were, and even though you'd rather have the trimmer two-door sister, E24, the 7-series has enough heritage to know when to act regally. Power was wielded through an array of large six-cylinder engines ranging from a commanding 2.8l to an imperial 4.5l, marshalling a cavalry of 250 horses behind that aristocratic nose.

The Black Prince rusting here has already been stripped of its heraldry, with that posterior debadged. Squinting through the begrimed windows an autobox can be made out which would certainly have sapped most of the strength from even the hardiest of engines. The distinctive kidneys of 1977 were detatched from the bonnet around 1983 and added to the grille in an attempt to smarten up the sagging profile, but it wasn't enough to please the electorate. Optional extras were little more than gaudy trinkets, with electric seats and onboard computers being little more than bloated pomp and gaudy trinkets; more flesh to weigh down the already bulky form. The tow-bar on the back also betrays this more as a Shire horse than a war horse.

It would take the revenue of a small fief to bring this BMW back to its former self, but there is only so much taxing an electorate can take. It may have the required number of kidneys, but it takes a stronger than usual stomach to come with the overly rich E23, which is all gut and no glory.