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

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. Find a 2005 BMW 745i for sale


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