In 1999 Chris Bangle became the first American to become the Chief of Design for BMW. Most notable to that point for his work on the Fiat Coupe, he ushered in a new era of sometimes controversial designs across the BMW range, starting with the 7 series with the internal model number of E65 which was introduced in 2001. Designed by the now Design Director of BMW, Dutchman Adrian van Hooydonk, working under Bangle’s tutelage, the E65 was the first incarnation of the ‘flame surface’ approach to exterior styling. It was a big step on from the very conservative designs of the previous incarnations of the model and attracted a lot of criticism at the time although Bangle, for his part, asserted that he was designing for the long term and predicted that ten years hence, the design (or ‘morphological paradigm’ as he would have it – these designers have to use fancy terms to justify the salaries required to buy their fancy black turtle-necks) would be viewed more favourably.
Now, it may have taken a little longer than Bangle’s prediction, and maybe helped by latter day designs that eschew conventional beauty, but to many eyes the E65 7 series has actually aged well and, dare we say it, now stands out in traffic as a modern classic. But the E65 was not just about the exterior styling. Much as the Mercedes S-Class previews the technology that eventually filters its way into the rest of the range, BMW introduced a wide range of features with this 7 series which really have stood the test of time and continue to be a core part of the brand’s products today. For example, this was our first introduction to iDrive, the BMW approach to accessing the increasingly complex range of configuration options that come with the technology that adorns modern cars. On initial launch, iDrive drew some criticism for only giving access via the control wheel and later relented to add some buttons to give access to the most-used features in response to customer feedback that it was hard to operate while driving (new car manufacturers attracted by the lower cost of putting all the buttons on a touch screen, please note). In addition, radar cruise control, adaptable, auto-dimming headlights and an electronic handbrake were all new and are very much a feature of cars today.
The E65 was initially offered with a range of straight six and V8 engines, petrol and diesel, and in 2003 the 760i was launched featuring a 6 litre V12 petrol engine which with further development (and, to be fair, an increase to 6.75 litres) went on to also be used in the Rolls Royce Phantom. Mated to a 6 speed ZF automatic gearbox, it was good for 439bhp and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. In 2005 the range was face-lifted which softened some of the exterior styling and improved the interior usability and, despite the initial frosty response, the E65 went on to sell over 340,000 units in total, significantly outperforming its predecessor.
This car has been in the current ownership since 2015 and around 18k miles, valeted on a regular basis, and serviced according to the onboard computer. For all but the last service, a BMW main dealer has carried out the servicing work but as knowledge of this specific model faded in the dealer network, the owner turned to a former BMW technician at a recognised expert independent garage. The work carried out has been mostly just routine servicing with the only significant additional expenditure being the replacement of the column-mounted gear selector to replace a broken unit. With a small collection of cars but limited space, the arrival of the latest addition means that one has to go and the owner has made the reluctant decision to let the 760i find a new home.
The car comes with a complete set of manuals and both keys, together with a stamped service book and the invoices to support all the work carried out since 2015. The MOT history shows nothing more than a couple of tyre issues and the latest MOT, just issued, comes with no advisories.
As befits a car of this status and original price tag of over £94k, the interior is beautifully presented and lavishly equipped. The colour scheme of beige leather and carpets with wood veneer perfectly complements the exterior hue and regular valeting has ensured that everything is in pristine condition.
The spec list is too long to relate in full but includes highlights such as triple glazed windows (all with blinds), fully heated and ventilated seats, cruise control with radar, sun roof, soft close doors, heated steering wheel, comfort entry, electric memory seats front and rear and automatic dimming headlights. There is a built-in phone (and pop-out dialling pad on the dashboard) which, while believed to be fully functioning, has not been used by the current owner as the Bluetooth functions perfectly well with his iPhone 11.
All of the smorgasbord of electrical goodies are fully functional and as you would expect the rear seats are every bit as comfortable as those in the front.
Finished in BMW deep green, the paintwork is flawless, again belying the regular work of the seller’s valeter. Being post-LCI (that’s “LifeCycle Impulse”, or “Facelift” to give it the non-BMW geek name) the shape has softened some of the more controversial flame surfacing flourishes of the original E65. The wheels are in great condition, with only the rear nearside showing a little kerb rash, and the tyres which all wear matching Pirelli P Zeroes all have good tread remaining. The lights show no signs of fogging and even the number plates aren’t showing their age. It’s a real credit to its owner.
This is obviously a very thoroughly engineered car from nose to tail but the star of the show is surely the engine. A 6 litre V12 is always going to be special but the smoothness of the N73 has to be seen to be believed. When running, it’s possible to place a hand on top of the engine and barely feel any vibration, such is the level of balance and refinement.
On the road, the car drives with limousine levels of smoothness until provoked into action when the V12 makes its presence felt and it pulls like a train. This car’s predecessor in the owner’s collection was an S Class Mercedes and he reports that the 760i was a considerable step up in performance and handling. Fastidious maintenance means that there are no issues to report with the drive and the car is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.
Overlooked for some time, the E65 7 series is really starting to come into its own and, as a late example of the pinnacle of the BMW range, this 760i has to be one of the most desirable. It has clearly led a pampered life and with only 54k miles on the clock, it’s got plenty more to give.
This is the consummate all-rounder: large and well-equipped enough to act as a long distance limo, and blessed with the kind of firepower and handling that allow it to keep up with almost anything, it also has enough modern technology to be usable on a day-to-day basis. The possibilities are myriad: keep it as a high days and holidays luxury treat, use it as a daily or preserve it for future generations, the choice is yours. Mix and match to suit your tastes, but it’s surely the very definition of ‘a lot of car for your money’. So, if you want to enjoy the high life at a fraction of the original cost, then get your bid in now.
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