8 min read
19 Dec

By Philip Uwaoma 

The recent sacking of Nigeria’s heads of aviation agencies, including FAAN, NIMET, NAMA, and NSIB, reminds us of a similar scenario nine years ago. In a not-so-surprising but decisive move in February 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed four cabinet ministers to mark the second of such a significant shakeup within seven months. 

The affected ministers were Godsday Orubebe (Niger Delta Affairs), Caleb Olubolade (Police Affairs), Yerima Ngama (Finance), and, perhaps, the most controversial resignation, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Stella Oduah. All four got caught in various controversies and corruption allegations. 

The Problem Cars

Stellah Oduah, former aviation minister, Nigeria.

Photo Credit: Punch Newspaper

Stella Oduah was notably absent at the cabinet meeting that relieved her comrades from duty but, nonetheless, resigned due to a series of scandals, including the “illegal” purchase of two bullet-proof BMW cars worth N255 million. 

Oduah’s accusers argued that the purchase violated the agency's procurement and appropriation laws. Investigations revealed that Oduah exceeded her approval limit when she approved over N634 million for the agency to acquire 54 vehicles, including the contentious armored cars. 

The cars in question, two BMW 760Li HSS models, were – and still are – an awe-inspiring marvel of German engineering, perfectly combining luxury, power, and unparalleled security features. 

The “HSS” designation at the end of the car’s name could denote High Security or High-speed Stability or High-precision Suspension System, alluding to the car's advanced suspension technology deployed to enhance the handling, comfort, and overall driving performance of BMW vehicles. 

Interestingly, not much was revealed about the actual BMWs, as the media focused on their astronomical costs, how the purchase breached Nigeria's laws, and the possible fallout for the Aviation Minister. 

This article delves into the details of the 2013 BMW 760Li HSS, exploring its history, developmental phases, specifications, and clientele and highlighting its extraordinary features and bullet-proof versions. 

See also: BMW Unveils Armored Versions Of Flagship 7 Series With Enhanced Protection Capabilities 

2013 BMW 760LI HSS Brief Overview

2013 BMW 760LI HSS overview.

Photo credit: BMW Blog

German automaker BMW quickly became a poster child of luxury and performance since its inception in 1916. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say the company's commitment to innovation and excellence came to the fore in 2013 with the launch of the BMW 760Li High Security (HSS). 

This vehicle was an upgrade from the previous versions of the 7 Series, designed to offer enhanced security to high-profile individuals without compromising on luxury or performance. 

Just when downsizing was the spoken and unspoken mantra in auto manufacturing plants everywhere, including German, Italian, French, and Japanese brands, BMW stunned pundits and enthusiasts with the 6.0-liter V12-powered 2013 BMW 7-Series, complete with twin turbochargers for added potency. 

You could say that the luxury sedan cradling this mill under its hood glided as quietly through the roads as the hushed, almost secretive nature of the engine. 

In fact, the 760Li was the only 7-Series model to rock the enormous V12, almost as if BMW was embarrassed to announce it from the rooftops, considering the brand's evolving efficiency-focused marketing. 

The V12’s discreet nature was further emphasized by its restriction to the long wheelbase 7 series, a niche market for a select few like former aviation minister Stella Oduah, a woman already stupendously rich before encroaching the corridors of political power. 

Then-Aviation Spokesman Yakubu Datti thought the uproar over the bullet-proof BMWs was too theatrical for someone as successful as the minister. 

"This is a woman (Mrs. Oduah) who is successful and established," remarked Datti. "A woman that made her mark in oil and gas, who owned trucks, barges, and so on. What is two cars?

Despite the engine’s substantial thirst for premium fuel, atypical of the '70s era luxury automobiles, the V12 unashamedly prioritized power, panache, and pride over fuel economy, echoing the 1990s Wall Street mentality - or oil and gas mentality. 

2013 BMW 760Li HSS V12 Power And Performance

2013 BMW 760LI HSS engine.

Photo credit: BMW Blog

The 2013 BMW 760Li HSS’s formidable 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine cranked out a staggering 535 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the large sedan from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. BMW paired the V12 powerhouse with an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

Despite the enormous power, it's hardly easy to forget what and for whom this car was made. The 760Li's driving dynamics have been described as graceful, leaning towards a refined demeanor rather than an inclination for spirited road manners. 

In other words, the 760Li’s robustness merely boosts its excellence in serene, quiet road cruising, avoiding the unnecessary kind of attention accorded to the Chargers and Challengers.

Considering the power at the 760Li’s disposal, it’s not uncommon to have some folks compare it to an "M7," but this understandable allegory is quickly dismissed by the car’s Rolls-Royce Ghost-like construction and feel, especially since it shared the Ghost’s chassis base and 7-Series N74-spurn V12 engine, albeit with updated displacement and output in the Ghost. 

All in all, the 760Li embodied a compelling blend of power, subtlety, and refined elegance, challenging preconceived notions and standing as a unique gem in the luxury automotive landscape. 

See also: How to Update Your BMW iDrive System: A Step-by-step Guide 

Wolf In Sheep Clothing

BMW 760LI HSS sleeper car.

Photo credit: BMW Blog

Interestingly, Sahara Reporters, the media house that broke the news of the aviation agency’s purchase of the million-dollar BMWs, wrote that its sources admitted they had no clue of the whereabouts of the said BMWs beyond that it has been paid for and supposedly delivered. 

Luckily for me, I stood at Kingsway bus stop, Bank-Anthony, Ikeja, when the woman's motorcade, complete with a motorcycle outrider, streamed past as if the road itself was no more than a mirage. The BMW was unmistakable among the retinue of ash-colored cars in the minister's motorcade. 

It was 2013, and I had never seen anything like it. The car had a presence that immediately let you know you were looking at the very car responsible for the hubbub among the country's elites. 

Here's the thing. 

This BMW's raw elegance effectively masked the performance mettle of the brute lying beneath the hood. For those fortunate enough to enter the world of the V12-powered 7 series, only subtle cosmetic details and the "760Li" badge on the trunk reveal its true identity. Imagine an underworld kingpin in an Armani suit and tie. Exactly.

2013 BMW 760Li HSS rear.

Photo credit: BMW Blog

The 760Li is nothing less than a covert masterpiece, hiding brute force beneath executive aesthetics, complete with the long wheelbase and a modest wheel design with none of those flamboyant air intakes you see in supercars

Ultimately, the 2013 BMW 760Li is a sleeper car that only reveals its wolf-like nature to those behind the wheel. At that point, the narrative shifts from the exterior modesty to an exhilarating experience within the driver's seat, where the V12's capabilities come to life. The similarity with “Ghost” (James) from the Power television series is uncanny. 

2013 BMW 7 Series Models

2013 BMW 760LI HSS interior.

Photo Credit: BMW Blog

The 2013 BMW 7-Series offered a diverse array of models in two sedan body styles, with 'L' designated models gaining an additional five inches of wheelbase, primarily contributing to extended back-seat legroom. 

The 740i and 740Li models got motivation from a 315-horsepower 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This all-aluminum engine incorporates twin turbochargers, variable-cam technology, and direct injection, delivering robust torque from low revs, reaching 330 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm. 

These models now offer xDrive, directing 60 percent of power to the rear wheels for enhanced traction and stability. Moving up the lineup, the 750i and 750Li received their motivations from a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 producing 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. 

Next in the lineup is the flagship 760Li, boasting the exclusive 6.0L-liter V12 engine producing 535 horsepower. Both the 750 models and the 760Li feature the 8-speed automatic transmission. However, the 2013 7-Series story didn't end with the 760Li. 

There was the Alpina B7 developed for purists and gearheads with a need beyond speed. The Alpina B7 is a 7-Series for driving enthusiasts, cradling a 500-hp twin-turbo V8, rolling on 21-inch wheels, and equipped with Dynamic Damping Control with Active Roll Stabilization for high-performance handling without sacrificing ride comfort. 

Alternatively, the ActiveHybrid 7 combines a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6, 8-speed automatic transmission, and electric motor system for swift zero-to-60 acceleration in 5.6 seconds. 

Note that though based on the 7 Series model, Alpina is a German automaker specialized in making high-performance versions of BMWs, and the Alpina B7 is an upgraded version of the BMW 7 Series, offering increased performance and luxury. 

The Drivetrain

2013 BMW 760LI HSS drivetrain.

Photo Credit: BMW Blog

All 2013 7-Series models featured auto stop-start and Brake Energy Regeneration systems for energy efficiency. 

BMW equipped the lineup with advanced electronics to enhance safety, stability, and the driving experience, including features like Hill Descent Control, Integrated Chassis Management, and a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension for responsiveness and comfort. 

They also came standard with electronic damping control with Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes. The Integral Active Steering system improved the cars’ maneuverability. 

High-tech options include adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a head-up display, Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, and a Night Vision system. 

Since most 7-Series clientele use chauffeurs, the automaker included the Luxury Rear Seating Package with ventilated seats and massaging functions. Specifically, the 2013 BMW 760Li HSS came with a plethora of luxury features that stood it out from the rest. 

These include a rear-seat entertainment system, massaging seats, four-zone climate control, and a high-quality sound system. The car's interior wore the finest leather and wood for the most luxurious ambiance. 

See also: Why The 2024 BMW XM Label Red Is The Most Powerful M Car Ever Made: A Review 

760Li Bullet-Proof Versions And Their True Cost

2013 BMW 760LI HSS bullet-proof models.

Photo Credit: BMW Blog

The bullet-proof versions of the 2013 BMW 760Li HSS took security to an entirely new level. These vehicles are certified by the International Ballistic Standards and meet VR9 and VR10 protection levels

The bullet-proof versions, like the Aviation Minister’s rides, featured armored bodywork and bullet-proof glass that can withstand high-velocity rifle fire. The bodywork and glazing can withstand attacks from firearms and explosive devices. Its run-flat tires keep the vehicle moving even when punctured. 

Back then, Mrs. Oduah’s media aide, Joe Obi, had said the agency bought the armored cars in response to imminent threats on the person of the minister by some people offended by Mrs Oduah's Transformation Agenda in the aviation sector. In that case, if there was any car that could keep the minister safe on the road, the BMW 760Li HSS was as good as any. 

Those cars came equipped with a self-sealing fuel tank, an attack alarm, and an intercom system, allowing occupants to communicate with the outside world without opening the doors or windows. 

The online newspaper Nigerian Eye published what was more or less a sensational news story that falsely claimed the money the agency spent on the two BMWs could've bought five or more Barack Obama's Cadillac One presidential limos known as "The Beast." 

On the contrary, at $1.6 million (roughly N255,000,000), both BMWs – not each of them – cost only about $100,000 more than Obama’s Cadillac One. Notably, shortly before US President Trump took office, General Motors won a $15.8 million contract to develop a new Beast, a far cry from Oduah’s $1.6 million Bimmers. 

The paper also claimed that the money for the BMWs could've paid for an Eclipse 500 ultra-light private jet, which is, in fact, true. The small plane currently costs $765,000 to $935,000, according to Evo Jets. Similarly, the 760Li has been praised as a favorable alternative to even a Learjet in terms of efficiency, comfort, and overhead costs. 

The BMW 760Li's Clientele

2013 BMW 760LI HSS customers.

Photo Credit: BMW Blog

The 2013 BMW 760Li HSS is not your average luxury vehicle. Its clientele is as unique as the car itself. This car is designed for individuals who require an extra level of security, such as political dignitaries, celebrities, and high-ranking executives. The 760Li HSS guarantees its occupants' protection in utmost comfort and style. 

Over time, the world can no longer deny the V12-powered BMW sedan’s debt to its loyal Chinese clientele. Approximately 25 percent of BMW's V12 production finds its way to China, where it serves as a preferred choice for executive limousines. You could say that neighboring Japan had its lumbering Crown sedan while China had the 7-Series BMW. 

The 7 Series’ dynamic performance, evident in its swift acceleration and seamless transitions through eight gears, is complemented by an impressively balanced chassis, granting an almost nimble quality despite its substantial weight. 

The driving experience is further enhanced by a meticulously crafted interior, featuring premium materials and precise assembly. While the iDrive system may pose some challenges, notable improvements have been made, particularly in segregating controls such as climate settings. 

Traveling in intoxicating tranquility in the spacious rear cabin, perhaps with a business partner, as you finalize an important deal, it is no longer okay to hear people question why this car commanded a nearly $160,000 price tag – that is, in base form. 

Currently, the good news is that the standard 7 Series can easily be found in the used car market for as low as under $10,000, and the bad news is that 760Li models are very rare. 

Even without being particularly interested in buying a $160,000 luxury sedan, it’s not hard to understand why the 760Li’s clientele gladly part with that kind of money. I can understand how the 760Li seems to meet every conceivable quota for an executive full-size sedan, leaving little room for improvement beyond its already remarkable offerings in terms of wood, metal, and exclusivity.

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