Chris Bangle’s BMW 7 Series is the unsung hero you should consider buying

The perfect sleeper

6w ago

Fun fact: the BMW 7 Series E65 - the rapper-friendly one that you only saw in music videos because it wasn’t selling that well - was penned by the former head of design at BMW, the GOAT Chris Bangle, and… Adrian Van Hooydonk, who inherited Bangle’s position as design chief at the Munich-based company.

A lot of people love to hate Van Hooydonk’s massive grilles, but I don’t. I mean, yeah, I don’t really like them, but I respect the fact that he’s willing to sit down and explain why he has this fixation with the grille and why he won’t budge.

But this is Bangle Day and we gotta celebrate the unsung hero of Bangle’s career - the 7 Series. It was designed in the late 1990s as a replacement for the old E38 and it looked nothing like its dad.

It had a long bonnet and a relatively short[er] rear section, almost like a fastback. It featured BMW’s signature (thanks to Bangle) ‘flame surfacing’ design and an elongated rear bootlid that people referred to as the ‘Bangle Butt’. It was longer than it looked, just over 5 metres, but the wheelbase was relatively short, 2,990 mm.

It was also available with a variety of different engines that these days can only be found inside the halls of a museum. The base model delivered 228 hp from a 3-litre inline-6, these days you can extract twice as many horsepower from an engine that’s 35% smaller.

You could also opt for the V8s - plural - with incrementally larger engine options: 3.6-litre, 3.9-litre (diesel) 4.0-litre, 4.4-litre (both diesel and petrol) and 4.8-litre. By the way, back then the model name actually meant something, so when you bought the 750i or the 760i, for example, you knew they were powered by 5.0- and 6.0-litre engines.

The most powerful petrol-powered model (apart from the 493-hp Alpina B7) was equipped with a 6.0 L V12 capable of 439 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, while the most powerful diesel was fitted with a 4.4-litre V8, putting out 325 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.

BMW sold over 343,000 units between 2001 and 2008. It didn’t do too bad in China and the US but it only sold 95,000 units in Europe. By contrast, Mercedes sold 160,000+ S-Class models in the same period.

It depreciated faster than 5-day old milk and these days you’re basically being paid to buy one. Mind you, while the car itself might be cheap (I found pre-owned examples in the UK for as little as £2,000), maintenance costs won’t be, and the rule of thumb still stands: if you can’t afford it new, you probably shouldn’t buy it pre-owned.

BUT maybe you should. If you live in an area where driving and parking haven’t been killed (yet) by government regulations - and if you don’t necessarily need your car to commute - you should consider buying one. Bangle would approve.

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Comments (42)

  • A dump truck load of NOPE.

      1 month ago
    • **slaps David

        1 month ago
    • You just slapped an American ...

      David takes off glasses and cracks knuckles. Slightly tilting head to the left, grins a maniacal grin with crazy dead eyes says, "Okay Aussie, let's throw down. I have something special for you". At that...

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • Nah. E38 is the one to get, this one will lead to financial ruin (in fairness though it does look alright)

      1 month ago
  • I could live with LCi diesel as a lot-of-car-for-the-money allrounder. If I were to treat myself with a proper V8 BMW, the E38 is a ultimate Bimmwer. Followed by E32 and E39.

      1 month ago
  • Ugh... that Bangle Butt. How did the wretched man get that past the board? Oh... ah... yes, same artistically dyslexic, smacked up bunch was already there, lolling around, boss-eyed and signing away the family jewels. Bangle looked at the back and thought, "fuck it, I can't be asked!", and threw a bucket of modelling clay at it, then got Bob the Builder's mate, Pat the Plasterer, to tidy up the mess. The beginning of the downfall of BMW.

      1 month ago
  • someone in my compound has one

      1 month ago