RE: BMW M5 (E39): PH Buying Guide

RE: BMW M5 (E39): PH Buying Guide

Tuesday 3rd February 2015

BMW M5 (E39): PH Buying Guide

About to take the plunge on a V8 M5? Go in knowledgeable with the PH Buying Guide



In any discussion of the best all-round BMW, the E39 M5 is more than likely to warrant a mention sooner rather than later. Launched in October 1998 following its debut at the Geneva show the previous March, this 400hp V8-powered saloon instantly garnered rave reviews in the press, followed by equally enthusiastic testimonials from owners.

Finest of the breed? Discuss...
Finest of the breed? Discuss...
At its heart is the S62 4.9-litre V8 engine, which is normally aspirated and attached to a six-speed manual gearbox. Extensively modified by BMW's M Division, the engine has a higher compression ratio, double Vanos variable valve timing, individual throttle bodies for each cylinder and a dual air induction system. That was enough to see the E39 M5 from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and on to an electronically capped top speed of 155mph.

Search used BMW (E39) M5s on PH classifieds

While performance is a key element of any M car, handling is just as vital to its make-up. BMW didn't mess with the fundamental layout of the E39 5 Series' suspension for the M5, but it did receive stronger mounts, bushes and wheel bearings, as well as unique spring rates and a lower ride height.

Other identifying features included the 18-inch Shadow Chrome alloy wheels, four exhaust tailpipes and a small lip spoiler on the boot. A facelift in September 2000 that introduced headlights with a corona ring, revised rear lights, front parking sensors, Alcantara headlining and grey-faced main dials.

Four pipes introduced on this M5 generation
Four pipes introduced on this M5 generation
As a four-door, five-seat saloon with a large boot and the possibility of reasonable economy, if driven sensibly enough on longer trips, the E39 M5 has remained a popular choice for those seeking a family-friendly machine. Burgeoning classic status is also helping to bolster prices of the best examples and you can expect to pay as much as £30,000 for the very best. Don't despair, there are plenty of E39 M5s out there at much more affordable prices, though cars pitched at £6,000 or even less need to be approached with a great deal of caution. You will also need to keep a fighting fund of £2,000 to £3,000 per year to keep an E39 M5 in top condition as these cars need continual, and expensive, care.

Browse E39 M5s for sale on PH classifieds


PHer's view:
"My E39 M5 was a hugely enjoyable car. It handled well and the performance was exhilarating. Its best trick was as being able to shrink around you when you were pressing on, giving the feeling of being a much smaller, lighter car."
Nick Garnett


Buying Guide contents:
Introduction
Powertrain
Rolling Chassis
Body
Interior

[Thanks to Munich Legends, Ashdown Park Hotel and Bramley Cars for their help with this feature. Pics by Tom Begley].

Author
Discussion

malibudave

Original Poster:

8 posts

151 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Just to bolster the want for this car, I love this article:

http://archive.wired.com/cars/coolwheels/magazine/...

jakesmith

3,896 posts

112 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
You'd have to be bonkers to drop £30k on this ugly heavy turdmobile

sutts

493 posts

89 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Perfect all-rounder with a bit of performance. I wish they had done a production Touring version, as I'm sure I would have had one instead of my current RS4 Avant, albeit it would be a few years older.

I'm not a fan of the looks of the E60 version (Touring is better though), so putting aside the very latest model I think the E39 probably is the best of them all for regular use, and the E28 as a useable and practical appreciating classic.


Amirhussain

10,946 posts

104 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Wow, didn't know some are fetching up to 30k.

AlexMG

62 posts

88 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
I have such thing for this M5, Mr Roy is to blame for it to be honest, currently reading his book at the moment too.
If I could afford to run one I would in a heartbeat, one of the best looking BMWs IMO.
Advertisement

BenWRXSEi

1,672 posts

75 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
I swear the universe is telling me to buy one of these.

g3org3y

13,395 posts

132 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Bookmarked! thumbup

Damn tempting at the moment.

jakesmith said:
You'd have to be bonkers to drop £30k on this ugly heavy turdmobile
Notsureifseriousjoker.jpeg (though 30k is madness).

shalmaneser

3,586 posts

136 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
AlexMG said:
I have such thing for this M5, Mr Roy is to blame for it to be honest, currently reading his book at the moment too.
If I could afford to run one I would in a heartbeat, one of the best looking BMWs IMO.
What book?

g3org3y

13,395 posts

132 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
shalmaneser said:
AlexMG said:
I have such thing for this M5, Mr Roy is to blame for it to be honest, currently reading his book at the moment too.
If I could afford to run one I would in a heartbeat, one of the best looking BMWs IMO.
What book?
I presume this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Driver-Dangerous-Pursu...

Good book actually, I enjoyed it. Worth a read.

petrolveins

1,780 posts

114 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
g3org3y said:
shalmaneser said:
AlexMG said:
I have such thing for this M5, Mr Roy is to blame for it to be honest, currently reading his book at the moment too.
If I could afford to run one I would in a heartbeat, one of the best looking BMWs IMO.
What book?
I presume this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Driver-Dangerous-Pursu...

Good book actually, I enjoyed it. Worth a read.
I read it while on holiday in France with my 540i, it spurred me on to upgrade to the M5, and mine is also in LeMans Blue.

Truly awesome car, but absolutely pants in the snow on big fat summer tyres. Not surprising I guess.

jamoor

9,749 posts

156 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Watch out for rod bearings!


Mine failed at 140k with a knocking at 2000-3000rpm.

Luckily wasn't a disaster.

tjk123

389 posts

171 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Yep another warning about rod bearings, mine went at 88k with a horrifically terrifying knocking sound. Thought I was done for but CPC Performance sorted it out.

Also watch out for light control modules and stuffed dashboard blower fans and general heating system woes (although applies generally to the E39 not just M5).

Pablo16v

1,328 posts

138 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
"sighs"

Off to classifieds to look longingly at E39 M5's. Damn you new house and your money sucking ways.....

JakeT

2,359 posts

61 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
This is one car that I always truly want. Saw a gorgeous Le mans Blue model a few weeks ago at the Shell services at the bottom of the A34(Winnall). Spoke to the owner and its his second! His first went to over 200k. I know an American owner of one with 186,000 miles on it and the car looks mint. What the article doesn't mention is that the E39 is relatively easy to facelift, in front and rear lights and the Nav system. This can make a pre facelift car more attractive for less money, and BMW have been known to offer goodwill gestures on the replacement of a gauge cluster, also.

J4CKO

27,223 posts

141 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
30k, wow, no thanks, you would have to be very keen.

Things have moved on

Das Baron

4 posts

85 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
I bought mine at the start of October last year (1999 in Silverstone).

I guess it would have been very basic spec at purchase time as it has no Nav or Sunroof but these are both positives for me. The alcantara headlining would have been nice though.

It is my only car at the moment and I wanted to see if one vehicle could do everything for me.

I bought it with 203,500 km and it passed 216,000 yesterday. I'm averaging 21mpg over that 4 month period but I have a roof/board rack constantly fitted which no doubt has a negative impact on the mpg.

I have replaced a couple of interior trim pieces that were worn but it is mostly excellent inside.

It does use oil at a rate of about 1l per 2000km.

As a daily commuter car I find it fantastic. The lack of folding rear seat does make it a bit pants for the transportation of bigger loads.

I'm waiting for the passes to open in the spring to see if the handling lives up to the promise of the engine which really is an awesome device.

petrolveins said:
I read it while on holiday in France with my 540i, it spurred me on to upgrade to the M5, and mine is also in LeMans Blue.

Truly awesome car, but absolutely pants in the snow on big fat summer tyres. Not surprising I guess.
I have Michelin Pilot Alpin tires on mine and it is frankly astonishing in the snow. (even compared to the Impreza turbo and Jeep Cherokee I had immediately prior to it). I was up in Laax with it last weekend during a serious snow fall on yet to be cleared roads and it just flew up there with no fuss. The traction control light didn't even come on.

Edited by Das Baron on Tuesday 3rd February 13:05

j_s14a

815 posts

119 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
There's a good reason why BMW didn't do much to the basic E39 chassis/suspension for the M5 - the E39 platform is amazing. A 6 cylinder E39 drives more like a sporty GT than a saloon. All the E39s above the 520i are brilliant, the M5 is a true great. The E39 530d was, and still is, one of the best cars in the world for the money.

petrolveins

1,780 posts

114 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Das Baron said:
I have Michelin Pilot Alpin tires on mine and it is frankly astonishing in the snow. (even compared to the Impreza turbo and Jeep Cherokee I had immediately prior to it). I was up in Laax with it last weekend during a serious snow fall on yet to be cleared roads and it just flew up there with no fuss. The traction control light didn't even come on.

Edited by Das Baron on Tuesday 3rd February 13:05
Good to know, quite fancy getting a decent set of winters on mine and venturing into northern Europe next winter.

MrHooky

89 posts

83 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Very well timed article.

I'm in the market for one of these right now and have been enquiring about several. Still waiting for the right spec one to come up in the classifieds and will then go for it.

Aim for it to be my daily driver as I need a family wagon for my 6 and 4 year old but don't want a boring diesel rep mobile.

Hoping that spending £12-15k one the right one should mean I don't lose much other than the running costs...


Patrick Bateman

10,736 posts

115 months

Tuesday 3rd February 2015
quotequote all
Don't be too fussy on spec. Good ones are hard to find so don't ignore a good car because it doesn't have sat nav or electric blinds etc.

Also, rear diff seals costing £1000 to sort is outrageous.

Edited by Patrick Bateman on Tuesday 3rd February 13:57