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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 cars for sale

101 Search results
BMW 7 Series
5795 65995 GBP
  • BMW 7 Series

    £21,990 £21,990

    Variant name:M Sport ,Derivative:M Sport ,Variant: 3.0TD 730d M Sport (258 BHP) BMW 7 Series 730d M Sport 4dr Auto

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 88241 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    Elms-Bedford BMW
    01234 868166 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • BMW 7 SERIES E38 735i 1996

    £9,999 £9,999

    1996 BMW E38 735 with just 14,900 documented miles! ;Presented in Oxford Green metallic and Sand Beige leather interior. This is in incredible time-warp condition with zero corrosion. It's fully loaded with climate control, electric memory seats, heated seats front and rear, electric sunroof, 18'' factory alloys... the list goes on. Everything works as it should and it drives perfectly. Wonderful investment opportunity, the pictures say it all. ;;The car has undergone a comprehensive 60 point check and has been extremely well cared for. It has had a full service and will be supplied with a fresh 12 month MOT.

    • Mileage: 14900 mi
    For sale
  • 2009 BMW 7 SERIES 730D SE Auto 71000 Diesel Silver

    £12,980 £12,980

    The most cherished 730d we have seen, in near perfect condition inside and out. This beautiful car comes with a full BMW service history, last serviced at 70k, no expense spared. All 4 tyres are nearly brand new, there is nothing to spend or do to this car other than enjoy it. , Just a dream car., 5 seats, Silver, True executive car for Mondeo money, comes with Sat Nav, Bluetooth, memory heated seats, climate, cruise, all the usual electrics all round. This car also has Xenons and the electric boot opening function, aux in for mp3/iPhone, hard drive to upload music to and more and more., Its important with these cars that they are serviced and maintained to a high standard and this one is a credit to its 2 previous owners, lots of bills and receipts as well as the stamped book., All 4 alloys have recently been powder coated and professionally refurbished to a better than new standard, it comes with a full book pack and 2 keys., As with all our cars it is HPi clear, and is offered ready to drive away today. Fore more info or to view our walk around video cut and paste :https://youtu.be/6CoViWEAjEc., Please do call for any more info or to view, viewing is by prior arrangement only please., www.murfinmotorcompany.co.uk, GBP 12,980

    • Mileage: 71000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.996
    For sale
  • BMW 7 Series

    £9,995 £9,995

    Massive Spec 750Li LWB in Sterling Grey. Just 2 Owners from New (Last Owner 6 years). Full Service History with 13 BMW Main Dealer Stamps and 2 Independent services. £17,570 worth of factory fitted extras including : Rear Entertainment Package £2,450 (with rear I-drive), Comfort seats - rear £2,065 (Reclining rear seats), BMW Night Vision £1,385, Comfort seats - front £1,310 (Fully Adjustable with Shoulder support), Active Cruise Control £1,250, Roof lining in Alcantara (Anthracite) £995, Digital TV function £855 (front & rear TVs), 19'' Star-Spoke alloy wheel Style 95 £845 (just been refurbished), Electric Sunblinds for rear and rear side windows £830, Active seat ventilation - front £625, Self-levelling suspension £550, Active seat ventilation - rear £535, Active front seats £530, Hi Fi LOGIC Professional audio £520, Adaptive Xenon headlights £465, Soft-Close doors £440, Automatic Bootlid opening/closure £370, Individual Sun protection glazing £355, High-Gloss Shadow Line £320, Mirror package £235 (power folding), Climate Comfort Windscreen £180, Universal Remote Control £170 (Garage Door Opener), Heated steering wheel £135, High-beam assistant £95, CD holder £60. 2 Keys. Serviced at 6k, 8k, 9k, 25k, 29k, 37k, 42k, 56k, 63k, 67k, 71k, 82k, 87k, 93k, & 100k. 128 POINT AA INSPECTION INCLUDED WITH FULL REPORT. Call us

    • Mileage: 113206 mi
    • Engine size: 4799
    For sale
  • BMW 7 Series 730d Sport *Automatic & Full Leather*

    £5,795 £5,795

    BMW 7 Series 730d Sport 156,000 Miles 3.o Turbo Diesel Full Black Heated Leather Interior Satellite Navigation Sports Seats Automatic 10 Stamps In Service Book (Full-Service History) Rear Window Blinds Electric Sunroof Automatic Lights Automatic Wipers Automatic Boot Rear Wheel Drive Air Conditioning 2x Keys Electric Windows Electric Mirrors Power Steering 20” Upgraded Alloys With Great Tyres ABS Airbags This car is fitted with ££££’s worth of optional extras from new including rear window blinds, iDrive entertainment system, heated leather & much more!

    • Mileage: 156000 mi
    • Engine size: 2993
    For sale
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