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I Bought the Most Hated BMW in the United States

Eighty-nine days, 9 hours, 24 minutes: That’s how long I went without purchasing another car. I kept track of the days not only to boast about my new-found self-restraint, but also because I was in agony. As the weeks turned to months, I found myself getting desperate. I would have bought just about anything to get rid of the anxiety. Turns out, I did just that. After joining a friend at the local dealer’s auction, I somehow ended up buying the most hated BMW in the United States.

I told myself I couldn’t buy another car until I sold something. When I sold my 1984 Mercedes 300SD, I purchased two cars (including this BMW) to replace it. Then, I sold my 2000 Mercedes ML55 AMG, and I bought another two cars to replace it as well. I’ll detail the other horrible purchase decisions later; for now, there’s plenty to discuss about this 2005 BMW 745i.

Twelve years ago, this flagship of Bavaria had an MSRP of over $75,000. After three owners, 134,000 miles and lots of deferred maintenance, I purchased it for only $3,400. This is less than what a Toyota Camry from the same year, with similar miles, would bring at a wholesale auction — and it’s pretty obvious why that’s the case. Dealers (and people in general) hate these cars for many reasons.

This 745i I purchased runs and drives great, which is a fairly rare sight at auction. The engines in these Beemers were afflicted with two fatal flaws: the timing chain tensioners and the valve seals. The former will put slack in the timing chain, causing a death rattle that will eventually result in a tossed chain, destroying the engine. The latter causes smoke to billow out the exhaust as the engine drinks its own oil. While my BMW has miraculously avoided these problems, I managed to find one with nearly every warning light flashing — creating what looks like a smaller version of a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Concert.

It’s pretty common to see the check engine, airbag, brake and tire monitor warning lights illuminated in an aging modern-era BMW. Most owners find a way to ignore these lights and drive their cars literally to death. Apparently, BMW didn’t like this trend of neglect, and decided to make these warning lights considerably more annoying. Every time I start the car and begin operating the iDrive system (BMW’s much maligned multifunction computer interface), not only do I have to accept a liability waiver, but I must dismiss every fault currently present with the car.

Additionally, the instrument cluster will ceaselessly blare these fault messages at you. My new Beemer is convinced that a tire is flat and will not shut up about it, which makes driving this thing a maddening experience. If only they devised this system to be just as annoying when BMW owners don’t use their turn signals…

Even without all these issues, my 7 Series is still the most hated BMW in the United States because of what it is: The first departure from what the brand symbolized. BMW never bothered themselves with matching Mercedes for technology; instead, they focused solely on providing “the ultimate driving machine” for their customers. Any technology offered was designed to interfere with the driving experience as little as possible. Unveiled for the 2002 model year, this era of 7 Series was a huge departure from that philosophy.

Never before did BMW owners need to consult an owner’s manual to understand the car’s basic functions — and most of the new technology didn’t improve anything. Everything from the seat controls to gear selection and even the ignition switch was victim to these techy gimmicks, which confused and angered many loyal BMW fans.

While most eventually figured out how to operate and accept the new iDrive-based technology, the biggest pushback came from the car’s new styling. Before these infamous Chris Bangle-designed cars were unveiled, starting with this 7 Series, new generations of BMW cars were updated very conservatively (and beautifully). Bangle decided to throw away this heritage for a bold new look, which ended up being the most hated thing to come out of Munich since Milli Vanilli.

When I told my mechanic, the Car Wizard, what I had purchased, he thought I was kidding. Cars like these will likely pay for his daughter’s college tuition, and it’ll get worse as they age — probably funding his retirement account, as well. He was understandably concerned when I finally convinced him that I wasn’t joking, and he explained all of the issues.

Perhaps it’s just me trying to justify my stupidity, but I see potential in this car. With the very low purchase price — and assuming I can sort it out cheaply enough — I’ll own this very impressive vehicle for a pittance. I also have a few ideas to make the car less hideous-looking. More on that later, but for now, I’ll hint at the theme with this project’s code-name: Hooptina. Find a 2005 BMW 745i for sale

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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  1. The prior styling is dated as heck.  Cars from that era are much cheaper than the ones just one year later.  BMW’s styling changes were a wise decision in retrospect.  The styling actually looks conservative by modern standards.  I have a 06 750 btw so I know about this engines problems.  Your car with 134K on it isn’t that old yet but it will eventually develop the problems.  Be sure to change the oil more frequently than at every 10K interval BMW suggests.  I think the best way to deal with the problems may be to take the entire engine out when it first develops the problems and replaced every gasket and seal on it.  This may be the cheapest, fastest option.

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