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Friday 6th April 2012

SOTW: BMW 528i (E39)

Shed returns to its heartland with a near-perfect 90s exec



When it was launched back in 1996, the hyperbole surrounding the E39 5 Series - and specifically the 528i - was stunning. To quote just a few choice phrases from Autocar's April 1996 road test for the 528i:


"From the way it looks to the way it drives to the way it is priced, this new Five, codename E39, has an air of genius behind it that seems so obvious in the flesh ... This is a car that remains in a league above its competitors for pure response and driver involvement: it possesses the most complete saloon chassis we've ever tested ... BMW has been doing things so right for so long it was almost inevitable that one day it would come up with a near-perfect car."

A fine car, then, and one whose descent into Shed's sub-£1K depths we've been waiting a long time for. Because, although you may not believe it given the frequency with which BMWs appear on the hallowed pixels of SOTW, we've never actually featured an E39 5 Series - they've either been too ratty, or they've been snapped up before we've had a chance to write about them.


It's perfect SOTW fodder, too, with a creamy 193hp 2,793cc straight six, and an ability to take an astonishing amount of mileage and daily use, provided it's looked after properly. Actually scratch that - they can do it even if thoroughly unloved. I had a friend whose father only ever washed his in Fairy liquid, treated the service schedule as a vague guideline and generally abused the hell out of it during five years and 250,000 miles - and it never missed a single beat.

Of course there is one major issue with pre-1998 528i's - those infamous Nikasil liners - so do check that this one's been fixed or you could face a rather expensive melt-down. Other than that, and the absence of leather, there's not a lot to fault with this 5er: reasonable miles, a full year's MOT, a wee bit of tax - it ticks all the boxes.


It's also a car that the motoring press wet its collective pants over 15 years ago - and that's not something you can say about every SOTW we feature...

Advert is reproduced below

1996 (P reg)Saloon118,000 milesAutomatic2.8LPetrol
1 year mot 2 months road tax. Excellent condition in and out. Drive like new. Service history. Remote Central Locking Alarm Immobliser Aircon Climate control Electric Windows Electric Heated Door Mirrors,Fog lights.,Alloys,Radio Cd +6Disk Cd Changer, Heaed Front And Rear Screens Adjustable Seats 4 Door Saloon, Silver, Petrol, Automatic. PX CONSIDERED. £875

Riggers
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Author Discussion

Stitch

Original Poster:

933 posts

105 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Proper shed.

g3org3y

9,582 posts

79 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Brilliant SOTW. If the engine hasn't given up by now, I wouldn't be worried about Nikasil. Good find cool

NelsonR32

1,066 posts

59 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
I bought a 2000 E39 520 SE Touring for £995 in January. Apart from the fact it was pretty slow and blankly refused to do more than 29mpg I really liked it. The interior was a lovely place to be.

My brother needed an Estate at the time so I ended up selling it to him for what I paid for it. Not all bad though as now running around in a 08/02 E46 325i M Sport that I paid only £2200 for biggrin

S8QUATTRO

314 posts

38 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
E39 such a good car, i'm sure i'll have another in one form sooner or later, how long before sport model is SOTW money?

Riggers

1,851 posts

66 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
S8QUATTRO said:
E39 such a good car, i'm sure i'll have another in one form sooner or later, how long before sport model is SOTW money?
Facelift 530i Sport (or 530d) - that's the dream one for me... cloud9

I'd say us Shedders will be waiting a while, however...
Advertisement

GreatCornholio

1,605 posts

61 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
What sort of mpg can you expect from one of these?

S8QUATTRO

314 posts

38 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Riggers said:
Facelift 530i Sport (or 530d) - that's the dream one for me... cloud9

I'd say us Shedders will be waiting a while, however...
i did buy one (530i sport) last year for just £1700, and it was in decent condition

had 4 of them in the last 3 years, 3 x black 1 and 1 x red

JJM

453 posts

77 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
GreatCornholio said:
What sort of mpg can you expect from one of these?
My 1998 528 SE gives me 22 mpg round town and up to 37 mpg on a motorway run at 70.

JayTee94

10,974 posts

45 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Good SOTW. cool

marshall100

766 posts

89 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Jinkies! some shed.

HON2A

446 posts

59 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Just purchased (£2000) and sold (£1950) the E39 touring 525, 8 months ownership, 4000 miles, no problems, free motoring at this price for such a well built and engineered car ... like it


RandomTask

102 posts

70 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
If Quentin Wilson was to look at this he'd say 'Stick a private plate on it, and people will think you paid 4 times as much for it'

Nice shed.

neil_bmw

240 posts

117 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
That is a serious bargain (assuming its not hiding a nasty bill soon)

I have a 2003 530 sport (Champagne Individual II) i cant bring myself to buy anything newer as its superb. Still hanker for a V8 with a bit more poke every now and then but i just cant think to get rid of such a great car.


varsas

3,361 posts

90 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
I noticed the other day how cheap E39's where, and you can have them with a V8. Seriously considering one instead of an e46 as my next daily (in a few years time...)

digger_R

1,514 posts

94 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Can't bring myself to get rid of mine, though it may go up for sale this weekend as it's about to get a fresh MOT. This one only loses points for lack of cowhide and a steering wheel from a bus - otherwise, top shedding.

At that mileage with history it will go on for a while too

mark1970

94 posts

65 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Are these prone to VANOS issues?

once

200 posts

71 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Excellent SOTW. Still looks better than most new cars. You just have to be prepared to roll the dice with expensive repairs. But set against that very low depreciation.

Seriously tempted!

McSam

5,788 posts

63 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
Bugger, I voted 5 by accident on my phone when it should be a 9. Excellent shed, if a monumental pain in the arse when I'm right about to decide on an E46.. wink

StevieB

777 posts

36 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
IMO, the best shed ever! (unfortunately I pushed wrong button and rated it a 5, doh!!!)

Nearly bought one twice, but my wife just wouldnt have it. Still love these cars.

Goatex

38 posts

35 months

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Friday 6th April 2012 quote quote all
I sold my 2000 530i with 160,000 miles on it in September 2010. Put it on ebay with a starting bid of £1,500 and got just that for it - was hoping for a bit more interest as, despite the milage, was a well looked after car and still drove and performed nicely. In terms of things going wrong mine needed a new radiator, thermostat, cam sensor and relay for the rain sensitive wipers. Reason for selling? A colleague gave me first refusal on his E39 M5 and I didn't refuse.
I've driven an E92 330i extensively and the E39 rides better, is quieter, has a higher quality interior and generally feels better engineered -they are brilliant, brilliant cars.
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