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WHEN CAR tested the BMW 735i in July 2002, the team’s reaction mirrored those from around the globe. Designer Chris Bangle’s fussy headlamp clusters and horizontal bootline were widely criticised and the rest was only slightly more pleasing to the eye. But the passage of time was kind to the E65; thanks to the Bavarian grand saloon’s trusted mechanicals and dynamic prowess demand remained steady.
The range at launch included a 3,6-litre V8 735i with 200 kW and a 4,4-litre V8 745i producing 245 kW. Later, a 225 kW 4,0-litre 740i replaced the 735i and a 750i was introduced with a 270 kW 4,8-litre V8 to replace the 745i. A 730d turbodiesel entered the line-up with a 150 kW 3,0-litre straight-six. If none of these is sufficient to blow your hair back, you can opt for the long-wheelbase 750iL or the 327 kW 6,0-
litre V12 760i, both of which cost more than R1 million when they were new.
Impending turbocharger failure is always a worry on a diesel engine and intake manifold swirl actuators can carbon-up and possibly even break, especially if the car is used mainly for short trips. The best prevention is to regularly change the synthetic oil and before you buy a 730d, get a mechanic to inspect the inlet tracts and EGR valve.
Some owners reported cam chain breakages after 200 000 km or even less, so have any excessive rattling engine noises checked out by your mechanic.
V8s can suffer from corrosion of an aluminium coolant pipe located between the two heads. The symptoms are coolant leaks from a hole in the timing cover. To save lots of labour and a massive bill, aftermarket replacement tubes plus seals (such as the “Bimmerpipe”) are available.
These can be fitted without removing the engine or its heads, but the intake manifold, and knock sensors plus some smaller coolant pipes must first be removed.
The six-speed transmissions were made by ZF and are generally sound. If you feel jerking from the gearbox, before suspecting the electronics check the Giubo (from the Italian giunto for joint), more commonly called the rubber doughnut, which sits between the gearbox and propshaft. This will eventually degrade and crack, resulting in free play.
SUSPENSION, STEERING & BRAKES
Electronic damper control (EDC) adds complexity, but seems a robust system.
There were a few complaints that the complex electro-mechanics that support the
iDrive console seemed to get their signals confused. With so many electrical connectors in the mix, it would help to obtain a wiring diagram and a tin of electrical contact cleaner. Checking all fuses and connectors and unplugging, cleaning and reconnecting could just find luck on your side
and solve a few problems for minimal cost.
BODYWORK AND INTERIOR
No particular issues stand out, but remember that with so many fitted features, some trim items will need attention from time to time. Check that everything operates as expected before you complete the purchase.
Luxury saloons often do lower mileages than other cars due to the limited time that executives spend travelling in their vehicles. Generally, they are serviced regularly and kept garaged both at home and at the workplace. This may, in some way, compensate for any apprehension involved in buying such a complex piece of machinery.