There are few people that like the pre-LCI BMW ‘E65’ 7 Series. When the Chris Bangle-led design team at BMW replaced the E38 7 Series—arguably the best looking sedan in the brand’s history—with the E65, fans wanted Bangle’s head on a spike. However, with the LCI facelift, which came a few years later, the same Bangle-led team made significant changes to its design and turned it into a rather handsome car. In this new episode of the Carmudgeon podcast, hosts Jason Cammisa and Derek Tam-Scott discuss various car facelifts and the E65 is one of the prime examples.

According to Cammisa, the E65 7 Series is the most successful facelift in the brand’s history, in terms of sales. However, sales sheet aside, is the E65’s LCI actually the one that improved its car the most of any BMW model? I’d say so.

The original pre-LCI E65 7 Series is easily one of the worst looking BMWs of this century, which is exacerbated by the fact that it replaced one of the very best. Its droopy headlights, fat rear end, and dorky grilles made the E65 a bit of an initial sales flop. The new and frustrating iDrive system didn’t help, as customers weren’t used to infotainment systems yet, never mind obnoxiously over-complicated ones. However, its looks were a big part of the reason why it sold so poorly.

However, sales did significantly jump up after the LCI and that’s because Bangle and co. created a far better looking car with the LCI. The headlights were massive upgraded in to sharper units, the grille was made better, the back end looked less frumpy, and the taillights were improved. Without question, the E65 7 Series had the most appreciated LCI of them all and no other Bimmer benefited more from a mid-life facelift.

What’s most interesting about that is the story Cammisa told about Chris Bangle. According to Cammisa, he spoke with Bangle years ago about it and the infamous BMW design claimed that the team was aware of the E65’s visual shortcomings while they were shipping it out the door. Why did BMW rush it out, rather than get the design right? That’s still unclear. Cammisa did call Bangle a genius and, when we spoke to him during our podcast episode, he was absolutely fascinating to talk to. So much about the Bangle years fascinates BMW enthusiasts and for good reason, they were the most controversial years of BMW’s design history. However, as we look back on them, we start to realize Bangle and his team were right about so much. The current regime at BMW can only hope for such a design renaissance.