BMW 730d (E65) | Shed of the Week

Yes, the E65 comes with a fair amount of Bangle-inspired baggage. Thank goodness it's got a big boot, eh…

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 20 October 2023 / Loading comments

Shed has always been a sucker for a E65 Seven, even though he knows they’re not all that great to drive and by gum they’re ugly. We’ll get onto that later though. First, a bit of background.

The 2001 E65 was the first BMW to feature iDrive, which as the older ones among you will recall wasn’t greatly loved in its early days. Our 730d shed was first registered in the August of 2003, which was not only the biggest production year for the E65 with nearly 60,000 built out of the near-350,000 total sold over the eight-year run, but also the year when BMW tried to improve the iDrive system, so with any luck our car should have fewer iDrive glitches. The Shed-approved test for iDrive integrity, and a few other things actually, is to fiddle about with the knob for a minute at least. If it seems to work OK for that amount of time it’s probably all right.  

Anyway, the E65 was the first BMW to be signed off by the controversial notebook-toting design mould-breaker Chris Bangle. Which brings us without any further ado to the boot. Most would agree that almost anything else would probably have been easier on the eye than Bangle’s ‘flame surfacing’ design, the sign-off document of which should perhaps have had a flame rather than a board member’s signature passed over its surface. Its bulbosity was only partly toned down in the 2008-on gen-five 7 Series, so presumably somebody important at BMW liked it even if the rest of us didn’t. The upside was plenty of vertical stacking space, and would you just check out the girth of those bootlid supports. You only get that sort of thing in expensive cars.

What you also get with expensive cars is a much wider range of things to go expensively wrong. That’s why, whenever a big BM or Benz comes up on SOTW, you can hardly hear yourself think for the clattering of bargepoles being studiously readied for non-use. In the case of this E65, or E66 for the 5.5-inch longer long wheelbase car which this one isn’t, or the E67 armoured version or the hydrogen-fuelled and unsurprisingly incredibly rare 5.6mpg V12 E68, neither of which it is either, the list of problems potentially includes squeaky windows (failed regulator), self-disengaging parking brakes (failed actuator), and dodgy sealed-for-life gearboxes. Steering wheel wobble at around 35mph is a Seven-specific problem that might be just poor wheel alignment but which could be also something much more elusive and costly to sort out. Knocking noises from worn suspension is a generic big car issue that can and will affect old Sevens.

In this pre-’05 iteration the inline six M57 D30 TU single-turbo diesel chugged out 214hp. These earlier 3.0 diesels are generally regarded as more trustworthy than the later 228hp TU2 units but you still need to watch out for swirl flaps, MAF sensors, stretched cam chains, and turbos that might not last much beyond 125,000 miles. Our shed has done 166,000 so it would be nice to see some reassuring paperwork on that. If all is well you can expect an 8.0-second 0-62mph time, a top whack of 146mph and a combined fuel consumption figure of 33.2mpg. Annual vehicle tax is £395.

As an odd aside, BMW offered the 2005 LCI facelift as an option to owners of pre-2005 cars. We don’t know how much that cost but hardly anybody took it up, so presumably it wasn’t cheap. Nor are repair costs in 2023, but the useful thing about fearful maintenance bills is that they do keep the cost down on used purchases. As such you end up with a 730d that would have started at £45k+ in 2003 now costing you £1,995 or less, depending on the vendor’s keenness to see the back of it. 

If Shed was the owner, he would only ever see the back of it whenever he was loading it up with what he likes to call windfall fruit and veg from the gap in the hedge to next door’s farm. Car ugliness, for Shed, is for others to suffer. He wouldn’t have to put up with it from the driver’s seat, especially as he’d be sitting a little lower in this one thanks to its collapsed side bolster. Clearly that seat has been slid across by many an ample buttock in its time. The presence of many seat-related 7 Series parts on the usual auction sites (belts, buckles, pre-tensioners and drive motors) suggests that this is another area of potential grief for owners. 

Viewed head on, it’s got that sad catfish look to it. The MOT is brand new and clean apart from a non-excessive oil leak, but Shed is willing to bet one half of this Friday’s cheese sandwich that ‘unspecified product on headlights’, or words to that effect, will be popping up as an advisory next October. Product on the lenses can be an issue for the postmistress if she forgets to take her specs off when she’s with Shed, but as he often tells her there very few things that a bit of spit can’t put right. 

In the course of his research Shed discovered that BMW sold the armoured E67s with a 7-year buyback guarantee whereby they would buy them back off the first owners and then punt them around on division two of the global despot market. Shed is currently investigating the E67’s resistance to attack by cast iron frying pan. 

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