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Was It a Mistake to Buy the Most Hated BMW in the USA?

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author photo by Tyler Hoover September 2017

Quite shockingly, my previous video detailing the accidental impulse purchase of a 2005 BMW 745i for only $3,400 received more views than any other introductory video I've ever done. Apparently, viewers found this broken base-model BMW 7 Series more interesting than my Acura NSX, my Porsche 911 or my prized Chrysler Lebaron. I suspect this spike is based on the same principle of watching a NASCAR race for the wrecks, as this BMW stood a very good chance of bursting my wallet into flames. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.

Considering this particular BMW has a reputation of totaling itself through several forms of mechanical suicide, just finding one running properly at a wholesale auction seemed like quite an achievement. Unfortunately, there were several other issues sending my dashboard into a frenzy of warning lights -- but thankfully, my sainted mechanic was able to vanquish all of them for only $500.

The check engine light was solved by replacing a vacuum line, and the brake wear warning light was addressed with a set of rear pads. Resetting the tire-pressure monitoring system finally stopped my BMW from screaming about a nonexistent flat tire, and new hood struts stopped the car from trying to decapitate me while I check the oil. Things got a little weird while solving the airbag warning lamp. The iDrive system believed the fault lay somewhere with the passenger-restraint system, but the real culprit was a part literally designed to explode in an accident.

This is not a joke -- and no, I'm not referring to the airbag system. On the positive battery terminal is a small explosive designed to disconnect the battery in case of an accident. This would prevent the electrical system from shorting out and sparking a fire. Apparently mine decided to quit after 12 years of no accidents, and it threw a fault code. Rather than replace it, my mechanic opted to permanently diffuse the explosive terminal.

Totaling up the $3,400 sale price, $175 in auction fees and the $508.00 in repairs, I was only $4,183 into a fully sorted modern BMW 7 Series. If I had stopped here, I could've touted this triumphant victory -- but I'm an idiot. I couldn't get past the much maligned exterior styling and set about giving my BMW a makeover.

My inspiration came from the gorgeous Alpina B7, which was built after BMW had corrected many of the awkward styling cues of this generation of 7 Series. The most striking change is the Alpina-style wheels. Real Alpina wheels can fetch double what I paid for this car in the first place, so I settled for some replicas. Additionally, I purchased a reasonably priced aftermarket front air dam, along with a rear spoiler -- bye bye, Bangle butt.

With tires, painting and installation, I wasted $2,200 making the Alpina-B7 equivalent of a Pontiac Fiero with a Ferrari body kit. I even spent $100 on a fake Alpina pinstripe kit, but I didn't have the stomach to stick it all on. So far, I've only used a small portion of the elaborate design, and doubt I'll take it any further.

That puts me at $6,300 invested into the 745i, which is probably all this base-model, 135,000-mile 7 Series is worth. I've already put over 1,000 flawless miles on it, and I've decided to keep it in the fleet for a while. The seating comfort and highway fuel economy rating of 25 miles per gallon make it a fantastic highway cruiser. I do regularly become frustrated with the endless gadgetry, but I also enjoy uncovering new features I didn't know existed.

The most recent discovery happened while playing with the voice activation for my latest video. The computer misheard my nonsensical request and sent me to a feature called the notepad, which allows the driver to record a voice memo to play back later. After recording a brief message, I requested a playback, and heard an unfamiliar voice. Turns out, the previous owner had accidentally recorded himself barking commands at the computer-- while growing increasingly frustrated.

I'm hoping for a long honeymoon with my unintentional insult to the heritage of Alpina -- but given my bad history with BMW ownership, that probably won't happen. The car has already exceeded my expectations, and each day is a new adventure filled with uncertainty. Sounds fun-- if you don't particularly care whether you arrive at your destination.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Was It a Mistake to Buy the Most Hated BMW in the USA? - Autotrader