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BMW 7 Series (E65): Buying guide and review (2002-2008)

BMW 7 Series (E65): Buying guide and review (2002-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65)
It’s not unfair to say that the droopy headlights and awkward rear end treatment of the 2002-2008 BMW 7 Series tended to elicit a strong reaction. And generally not a complimentary one. When viewed next to the previous generation model, there was no doubt that the new car was a challenging visual phenomenon. Look at the design today however and it’s clear to see that the Chris Bangle design has aged exceptionally well, like many truly cutting-edge designs. 
Moving on from its divisive looks, under the skin the new Seven was a technological tour-de-force, debuting a number of BMW’s latest innovations. It offered a number of firsts in its class, from the i-Drive infotainment system to infinitely variable intake manifolds and active anti-roll bars.
In a world where the latest is greatest, nothing depreciates quite like a previous generation luxury car. Once the CEO’s and high-end hotels are done with them they tend to free fall in value, offering fantastic value on the used market. This is potentially great news, but big bills can be lurking around the corner if you’re not careful, so to bag that luxury bargain read through our guide to avoid the usual pitfalls.  

Which BMW 7 Series to buy?

The increase in demand for top level executive cars at the turn of the century meant that there were a lot more variants of the 7 series to choose from than ever before – from the efficient 730d right up to the range-topping V12 760i, a hydrogen powered model and even a supercharged 493bhp Alpina B7. Standard specification was extensive, and the options list included a number of segment firsts, some of the more desirable ones were keyless go, remote heater activation and multi adjustable ventilated seats front and rear. LWB models offered even more space for rear seat passengers.

The 2005 facelift saw a much improved exterior with revised lights and colour options. The interior received higher quality finishes and an updated iDrive controller. High beam assist and night vision were also offered from 2006. That iDrive controller may be ubiquitous today with a number of manufacturers employing similar systems but it was initially heavily criticised for its clunkiness and received a number of updates to improve usability. Post ‘05 versions are best. 

In general, owners have either had no issues or a great number of them. Early cars had the most teething problems so in a used car context it is best to stick with newer more developed cars, mechanically they tend to be strong and the majority of niggles were ironed out over the years.

For our money, we would stick to the face-lifted post-2005 cars. While the diesels are potentially cheaper to run, it’s the silky smooth V8 petrol variants that we would aim for. A nice 740i or 750i in long wheelbase form on sensible rims could be the ultimate budget friendly luxury limo.

Performance and specs

BMW 745i (E65)
Engine 4398cc 32 valve DOHC V8 
Power 328bhp @ 6100rpm 
Torque 332lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 155 mph (limited)
0-60mph 6.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 25.9mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed automatic

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2990mm
Length 5029mm
Width 1902mm
Height 1492mm
Weight 1945kg

Common problems

• The condition based servicing system that BMW introduced with the new 7 tended to extend oil change intervals way beyond what would normally be recommended. This could cause issues down the line requiring replacement valve guide seals. Sluggish performance and blue exhaust smoke are the early indicators.
• The same applies to the gearboxes which are ‘sealed for life’ units, but will have a greatly increased lifespan with regular oil changes carried out every 60,000 miles.
• Diesel engines can suffer damage from inlet manifold swirl flap deterioration. An early sign is a lumpy idle, getting a specialist to give your car a once over could save you a lot down the road. 
• Parts are widely available but can be pricey, so walk away from cheap cars with running gear issues. There are a number of specialists who can maintain your car for far less than what the dealer will charge.
• Cars with large diameter rims suffer from a harsh ride, non-sports models still handle well and are less prone to cracked wheels.
• A number of recalls were carried out, mostly in the first few years of production. Check if your car was affected and whether the work was carried out or not.
• It is quite likely that some of the extensive electronic motors and relays powering the seats and other systems will not be functioning correctly after all these years, as repairs can be prohibitive it is best to factor these into your offering price and learn to live with minor niggles. 

Model history

2002: New E65 7-series launched, initially available in 268bhp 735i and 333bhp 745i flavours. 760i, 740d, 730d and 730i phased in shortly afterwards.
2004: 750i and 745d (not for UK market) introduced
2005: Mid-life face-lift carried out on all models. Much improved exterior looks and upgraded iDrive.
2008: Final year of production for E65 7 Series. Over 343 000 units sold globally making it the most successful 7 series to date.

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• www.bimmerforums.co.uk – BMW forum 
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk – BMW UK car club
• www.the7seriesregister.co.uk – 7 Series register

Summary and prices

Last-of-the-line 2008 model year cars are still upwards of £13,000, but real value is to be found much lower down the price range. Early cars start as low as £2500, this gets you a high mileage 2002 745i, which could either be a massive bargain or a money pit. 
Our preferred choice would be a face-lifted 750Li; £7000 is where good ones start, and while huge mileages are common, the thing to look for is a comprehensive service history. For the bargain hunters, there are many more diesels out there to choose from, and at £5000 a 2006 730d could also make for a great long distance cruiser. The ‘Bangle butt’ 7 Series is a car that improved greatly with age, and a good one can offer many years of cosseting luxury for very little outlay.

Words: John Tallodi
BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65)
Last updated: 17th Oct 2016
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BMW 7 Series
4700 59995 GBP
  • BMW 7 Series

    £18,000 £18,000

    Variant name:730d M Sport Saloon ,Derivative:F01 ,Variant: 730d M Sport Saloon

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 64378 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £18,000 £18,000
    Dick Lovett-BMW - Hungerford
    01488 682 772 View contact number
  • BMW 7 SERIES 730D SE 2006

    £4,700 £4,700

    *FULL SERVICE HISTORY*JUST BEEN SERVICED*Perfect family car with a very economical diesel engine.Starts and Drives really well.A great spec car for little money.Paper Work Here.Clean Car for Year.Please call us for arrange test Drive*, Upgrades - Active Cruise Control, 3 months warranty, Next MOT due 01/01/2019, Full service history, Good bodywork, Black Full leather interior - Good Condition, Tyre condition Good, Standard Features - Satellite Navigation, Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Cruise Control, Parking Aid (Rear), Voice Activated Controls, Alarm, Alloy Wheels (18in), Computer, Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD), Paint Metallic, Telephone Equipment, Upholstery Leather. 5 seats, Metallic Grey, *You may be hundreds of miles away and planning to come and see us within the next few days? Whatever the reason, don't despair! You can quite simply reserve your new car here! A small deposit of just GBP 100 no refundable will reserve the car for you and remove it from sale immediately! This will hold the car for 3 days, after which time it will be released back on to the market. So don't delay!*Our Warranty Cover:Unlimited European Cover,Breakdown and Recovery,Consequential Damage Cover,Hotel and Travel Expenses Included,Repairs at any VAT Registered Garage,Cover for Failure Due to Wear and Tear,No Mileage Restrictions,Warranty Can Be Upgrade Up To 36 Months***PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE ,OVER 40 PICTURES EACH CAR*WE STOCK JUST OVER 15 CARS***WWW.AKI-MOTORS.CO.UK******CALL US TO BOOK TEST DRIVE OR VIEWING***, *HPI CLEAR*BANK TRANSFER,VISA DEBIT,CREDIT CARDS WELCOME*CALL US TODAY TO BOOK YOUR TEST DRIVE*, GBP 4,700 p/x welcome

    • Mileage: 124600 mi
    • Engine size: 2.993
    For sale
    £4,700 £4,700
  • BMW 7 Series

    £13,500 £13,500

    Variant name:730D SE ,Derivative:3.0 730d SE 4dr ,Variant: 3.0 730d SE 4dr Metallic Grey, AA INSPECTED AND 3 MONTH AA WARRANTY, , THIS GIVES ALL OUR CUSTOMERS PEACE OF MIND AND THE CONFIDENCE THAT THE LARGEST MOTORING ORGANISATION HAS INSPECTED THEIR NEW VEHICLE., 2 owners, Last serviced on 07/04/2018 at 63,535 miles, 19'' ALLOY WHEELS., BI-XENON HEADLIGHTS., AUDIO/VISUAL FRONT AND REAR PARKING SENSORS, 3 STAGE HEATED FRONT SEATS., FRONT POWER SEATS., 2 STAGE MEMORY SETTING FRONT SEATS., DIGITAL DUAL ZONE CLIMATE CONTROL., CRUISE CONTROL., DIGITAL DISPLAY., CD / DAB STEREO SYSTEM., SATELLITE NAVIGATION SYSTEM (NAV MEDIUM AND OR ACTIVATION MAY BE REQUIRED), VOICE CONTROL., BLUETOOTH, ELECTRIC POWER FOLD DOOR MIRRORS., ELECTRIC TAILGATE, ELECTRIC STEERING COLUMN., SPORT / ECO PRO / SPORT PLUS/ COMFORT PLUS VEHICLE DYNAMIC MODES., AUTOMATIC / TIPTRONIC GEARBOX.. 5 seats, Bmw Main Dealer Service History, Value Financing Options Available, Fixed Prices, According to Autotrader, 94% Of Our Cars Are Below Market Value Or Offer Excellent Value For Money, V12 Sports And Classics For The UK's Lowest Prices., , Excellent Finance Options Available And Part Exchanges Welcome, Open 7 Days A Week., , Vehicle Specification Can Be Found Below., £13,500 p/x welcome

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 69590 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £13,500 £13,500
  • BMW 7 Series

    £21,500 £21,500

    Variant name:730D M SPORT EXCLUSIVE ,Derivative:3.0 730d M Sport Exclusive (s/s) 4dr ,Variant: 3.0 730d M Sport Exclusive (s/s) 4dr Metallic Silver, AA INSPECTED AND 3 MONTH AA WARRANTY, , THE INDEPENDENT AA INSPECTORS COMPLETE A 128 COMPREHENSIVE MULTI-POINT CHECK INCLUDING ROAD TEST PRIOR TO THE CAR BEING ADVERTISED., 1 owner, Last serviced on 01/08/2018 at 50,698 miles, 20¿ ALLOY WHEELS, BI XENON HEADLIGHTS, L.E.D DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS, AUDIO / VISUAL FRONT AND REAR PARKING SENSORS, STOP / START TECHNOLOGY, KEY-LESS GO, FULL BLACK LEATHER INTERIOR, FRONT POWER SEATS, 2 STAGE MEMORY SETTING FRONT SEATS, 3 STAGE HEATED FRONT AND REAR SEATS, FRONT AND REAR DIGITAL DUAL ZONE CLIMATE CONTROL, CRUISE CONTROL, WIDESCREEN DIGITAL DISPLAY, REVERSING CAMERA, SATELLITE NAVIGATION SYSTEM. (NAV MEDIUM AND / OR ACTIVATION REQUIRED), CD / DAB STEREO SYSTEM, BLUETOOTH, ELECTRIC POWER FOLD DOOR MIRRORS, ELECTRIC TAILGATE, DIGITAL SPEEDOMETER, SPORT / SPORT + / ECO PRO / COMFORT / COMFORT + VEHICLE MODES, AUTOMATIC / TIPTRONIC GEARBOX, AND MANY MORE. 5 seats, This Car Has Only 1 Registered Owner And Has Been Used For Business Purposes, Service History, 12 Months Road Tax Is £155 Value Financing Options Available, Fixed Prices, According to Autotrader, 94% Of Our Cars Are Below Market Value Or Offer Excellent Value For Money, V12 Sports And Classics For The UK's Lowest Prices., , Excellent Finance Options Available And Part Exchanges Welcome, Open 7 Days A Week., , Vehicle Specification Can Be Found Below., £21,500 p/x welcome

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 52110 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £21,500 £21,500
  • BMW 7 Series

    €59,995(£0) €59,995(£0)

    Variant: 730Ld Saloon Black Exclusive Nappa leather, w101, Leather interior, Metallic paint, Reversing Assist camera, Smokers package, Comfort seats. front, Fineline wood. high gloss interior trim, Seat heating. front and rear, Air conditioning. automatic with four-zo

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 50720 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    €59,995(£0) €59,995(£0)
  • BMW 7 SERIES 750I 2005

    £7,495 £7,495

    This is Executive Luxury at Ford Fiesta Price - Only GBP 315 Annual Tax - Doctor Owner since 2006 - Full Service History - Low Mileage - Immaculate Condition - Drive like a dream - Every Conceivable Gadget!, Upgrades - Night Vision Camera - Bluetooth Connectivity, Active Seat for Driver and Front Passenger, Climate Comfort Laminated Glass, Comfort Seats Rear, Club Leather with Comfort Front Seats, Hi-Fi Logic 7 Professional Speaker System, DVD Player, Multi CD Player, Individual Sun Protection Glazing, Protective Glazing, Seat Heating for Rear Seats, Sports Steering Wheel, Steering Wheel Heating, Alloy Wheels - 18in Multi-Spoke Style 94, Individual Anthracite Alcantara Headlining, Adaptive Headlights, Self-Levelling Suspension, Electronic Damper Control, Seat Heating for Driver and Passenger, CD Holder, Next MOT due 06/09/2019, Last serviced on 19/07/2018 at 52,000 miles, Full service history, Excellent bodywork, Interior - Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, Standard Features - Satellite Navigation, Voice Activated Controls, Sunroof Electric (Glass), Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Alarm, Alloy Wheels (18in), Computer (Driver Information System), Cruise Control, Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD Autochanger), Paint Metallic, Parking Aid (Rear), Upholstery Leather. 5 seats, Black, 3 owners, Strictly Viewing by Appointment! Great Finance deals,

    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.799
    For sale
    £7,495 £7,495
  • BMW 7 SERIES 750I M SPORT 2014

    £22,500 £22,500

    2014 / 64 Reg BMW 750i M-Sport Individual. Category N Recorded. Just 21,000 Genuine Miles From New! Metallic Carbon Black / Ivory White Dakota Leather. Specification Includes: ConnectedDrive Online. Sunroof. 360 Degree Surround Cameras, Reverse Cam, 20" Alloy Wheels, Driving Assistant Plus, Comfort Access System, Adaptive Headlamps, Electric / Memory / Heated Driver and Passenger Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, Radar Guided Cruise Control, Individual Piano Black Trim. Full BMW Service History (Last Service Carried Out At 19,700 Miles). Very Rare Indeed...Perhaps The Only One Available Anywhere? Save Nearly GBP 60,000 On New Price at Just GBP 22,500. Part Exchange Considered.

    • Mileage: 21000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.395
    For sale
    £22,500 £22,500