RE: Shed of the Week: BMW 528i (E39)

RE: Shed of the Week: BMW 528i (E39)

Friday 30th November

Shed of the Week: BMW 528i (E39)

The E39 is Shed legend. But too often they come with strings attached. Unless you find the fabled good 'un...



Mention the name Chris Bangle in any chat about car designers and the chances are you'll split the room. Some reckon he was a genius, others a - well, not a genius. Bangle wasn't initially responsible for the design of the BMW E39. A Japanese chap called Joji Nagashima was. Joji also did the E36 and E90 3 Series, and the least said soonest mended Z3. These days he lectures at the Technology Design department of Tokyo University, where he is a visiting professor.

Anyway, Bangle joined BMW as head of design in 1992, which meant he was able to freeze Nagashima's design for the gen-four 5 Series. That was one of his smarter decisions, as the E39 was not only extremely stylish but also a big dynamic improvement on its hardly poor predecessor, the E34. The E39 was 40 percent stiffer than the preceding E34, which itself was something of a standard-setter for the class, handling-wise.

(May we briefly interrupt this programme for a geek fact? If you've ever wondered what the E in BMW factory names stands for, it's Entwicklung, which is the German word for development. You can bring that up as a useful diversion if things are getting heated in your next Bangle-based conversation.)


Talking of geek facts, one aspect of Shed's previous life involved the gathering and maintenance of fascinating automotive datasets. One of those was to do with car awards. Knowing who'd won what was a useful lead for magazine ad sales folk. As the years rolled by, it became clear that one car stood head and shoulders above all others in terms of the plaudits it had received over a long period from the more informed sections of the UK-based car press. That car was the 5 Series, starting with the E12 of 1972.

Based on its all-round package of quality, performance and driving manners, the E39 of 1995 is commonly referred to as 'the best Five'. Annoyingly, and in the opinions of many prematurely, BMW stopped making it in 2003. As a result, most E39s today have huge numbers on the odometer or in the 'number of previous owners' box of the V5 - or quite often both.

If either of those factors have put you off potential E39 purchases, this week's Shed should be of considerable interest. For a (good) start, it's a 528, powered by BMW's superb 190hp straight six engine. Next, it's a manual - another plus point for those hankering after ultimate handling and perhaps also harbouring dark thoughts of drifting.


So, let's have a squint at the mileage. 147,000... not a lot for one of these. Interesting, interesting... now the number of owners... one. What's that? One? Yep, one owner from new. Oooh. Do we dare hope for a full BMW service history? We do dare, and there it is: every receipt from new, plus the original bill of sale. Throw in the Avus Blue paint black leather, the tasteful M Sport accoutrements, and the vendor's claim that this is Britain's cheapest manual-gearboxed E39 528 Sport, and you may now be wondering if this is finally the time to scratch that six-pot itch.

In June, the MOT tester mentioned a non-excessive oil leak and thin front brake pads. The MOT history indicates that a fair amount of suspension work has been carried out over the last two years/20,000 miles, which is good to hear. As you know, the E39 was the first Five to feature plenty of aluminium in the chassis and specifically in the front suspension. Outside of the V8 models it was also the first Five to use rack and pinion steering.

The springy/steery bits do take a bit of a hammering on these cars. Poorly aligned steering will grind off the inside treads of the back tyres. E39 'shimmy' at medium speeds is one of life's great unsolved mysteries. Some say it's the anti-roll bar bushes and droplinks, others the track control arms, steering boxes, dented alloy rims or warped brake discs, others blame Mercedes or Brexit.


E39 ABS modules by Bosch were known for fritzing out and that oil leak thing is hardly unheard of either: the cam covers are a bit leaky. Then there's VANOS. That's an internet's worth of stuff on its own. Sunroofs and windows can be noisy, locks can be clunky, and dash pixels can be missing pixels. Fans conk out and engine bays are rarely 100% dry thanks to leaking power steering or coolant systems. The boot can let water in too.

This particular car is interesting from the back. Does anybody know what effect that tiny little boot-top lip had on the handling? And there's no 528 badge. Presumably it was deleted by the owner, which Shed likes as the big typeface BMW used back then kind of dates this model. Is debadging still popular in 2018? Do they still charge for it? Most of Shed's motors are debadged, but that's mainly an aftermarket thing carried out by his friendly neighbourhood hooligans.

There it is then. Well, at least, there it was when Shed spotted it. It might not be there by the time you finish rubbing your eyes. Only the owner knows this car's foibles and glitches - it would be worth making an enquiry for the chat alone - but on paper it's hard to imagine where you might find a more honest 528 for this money. Hell, it's even got the original BMW rechargeable glovebox torch.

Here's the ad

Author
Discussion

HeMightBeBanned

Original Poster:

512 posts

114 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
A Holy Grail shed.

darkblueturbo

89 posts

148 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
I used to have an E39! Awesome. I’m tempted, but the kids need Christmas presents more than I need a new shed.

So what does the F stand for in the newer BMW models?

Cambs_Stuart

326 posts

20 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Superb shed. Nice car and great history. Good find.

mcelliott

4,925 posts

117 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
darkblueturbo said:
I used to have an E39! Awesome. I’m tempted, but the kids need Christmas presents more than I need a new shed.

So what does the F stand for in the newer BMW models?

Fugly

rallycross

9,357 posts

173 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Is 728 am to early to call someone about an old shed?

Looks very clean and tidy.
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aston addict

187 posts

94 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
The leaking boot comment made me smile. Had a e28 and that had a leaky boot - even two generations later BMW didn’t manage to fix it!

Still, such a well-rounded design.

2smoke

57 posts

47 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Nice!

Filibuster

1,125 posts

151 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Surely, this is too good to be true....

ETA MOT history:






Doesn't look too bad. But dont park on a steep hill hehe
Looks like the bargain of the century!!

Oh and make this SOTY!!

Edited by Filibuster on Friday 30th November 07:59

s m

16,914 posts

139 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Sunroof as well cool

aka_kerrly

10,417 posts

146 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Quality shed for especially for someone who can do some DIY maintenance/repairs as parts aren't hideously expensive nor hard to obtain.

I used to own a 1997 523i SE manual in glacier green, it had sport suspension upgrade and a barely any other options but that didn't matter to me because it was £225 with MOT+ loads of service history & receipts. It looked far far too good to be going to the scrap yard when all it needed was a cooling system overhaul.

What was meant to be a quick fixer upper an stop car car for my dad turned into my daily for the next 2 years!! It was dam reliable apart from when I was a cheapskate and put non gen Cam & Crank sensors on it which failed within a few months. Genuine BMW sensors ARE ESSENTIAL on these cars!!!!!!!!!!!!

The sad thing is because of it's colour when it came to selling it (for £500 at 113k 3 owners, ££££ worth of receipts from day 1,9 months mot, fresh fluids & belts all round) I had LOADS of time wasters and sadly ended up selling it to a guy who ragged the hell out of it on the test drive and wanted it to drift. He had all the hallmarks of a C**T an by looks of it the car was impounded a few weeks later for no insurance & taxmadfurious Its still not showing as Taxed or Insured now 8 months later, which is a fffffffffffin huge waste of a wonderful car.

If I had more space I'd have kept it, I've owned various far more expensive/interesting cars over the years but the BMW 5 got so many positive comments especially from people who'd owned them in the past or were under the impression it was worth at least 25X what I paid for it - presumably because it barely had 1 ding/scratch and dam clean!

Pic of P513DBW in it's better days.



drjhill

156 posts

126 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
I'm not the only one "working from home" this morning then!

Avus blue makes this a no brainer for me, good job it is miles away and I am going in the opposite direction later

I'll just have to wait for the auto 530 then

kellyt

156 posts

55 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Yes, yes, yes!!!

After some unappealing (to me) sheds, finally something I definitely like. Nice spot, a car worth caring about. A good drive and seats that still rate as comfortable now. Everyone that I've spoken to that had one of these regretted selling theirs. That kind of tells you a lot.

Limpet

3,123 posts

97 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
What a genuinely lovely old car. These have aged so well.

Given the list of common woes, I wonder how much commitment (and cost) it would take to keep it up to scratch. It seems far too nice to let slide into banger territory. What are these like to work on yourself, and what are the parts costs if you don't want to fit stuff that lasts 6 months, or ruins the drive?

Mileage is nothing given the quality of the car, and the service history. I bought a mk4 Golf GTI 1.8T (a considerably less well engineered car) a few years ago with similar mileage that was also a genuine one owner car. Full VWSH, and drove better than any of the lower mileage ones I looked at. Ran it for a year with only an alternator failure (£35 from a breaker for a guaranteed OE Bosch replacement, and an hour's work to fit). For the VAG stuff you also have VAGCOM/VCDS that can do everything the dealer tools do, and more. Could you run one of these on a similar basis? Genuine question, I don't know much about the E39.

kellyt

156 posts

55 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
rallycross said:
Is 728 am to early to call someone about an old shed?

Looks very clean and tidy.
Call them!!! If it was 5.30, call them anyway. That old gal isn't going to hang around long. If I didn't have too many already, I'd be poised.

SD_1

6,792 posts

94 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
A manual 528i sport with one owner from new and allegedly lots of history?

Doesn't get much better than that, someone get it bought! biggrin

AC43

6,427 posts

144 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
Great design, great looking car, great shed.

Just before the lost decade when Bangle mangled it all up. Still don't understand what BMW were thinking.......

James Junior

743 posts

93 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
I bought a black 2003 530i M-Sport as a run around 18 months ago with 110k on the clock and full BMW service history. I have the original receipt of sale for am eye watering £46,000 showing every option on the list ticked bar two. I paid £3,200 for it. It has electric everything, xenons, heated and ass massaging seats, front and rear parking sensors, nav, bluetooth and all the M sport goodies.

It was intended only as a stop gap, but I love driving it and can't see any reason to change it now. It feels really solid and still quite modern, though the auto box could do with a 6th gear. It has it's share of dings and the paint is in poor condition, with a few rust patches in the usual areas, but that just means I can park it where I like without worry. It's amazing how many positive comments it gets from people who either admire it or used to have one and wish they had kept it.

Barging at it's finest.

kellyt

156 posts

55 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
AC43 said:
Great design, great looking car, great shed.

Just before the lost decade when Bangle mangled it all up. Still don't understand what BMW were thinking.......
The E60 5 Series stood out. In times of ever more identical cars, it had its own look, it stood out. I hated it when it came out, but as the years have gone by I'd say I respect the E60 for taking a risk. It'll probably go on to be a classic. I'd say the current BMWs have become far more anodyne and just inoffensive.

The safest car design option is not to make design decisions that could surprise, or excite, but to just design something with the fewest lines will make a car distinctive. Nothing to love, but crucially, nothing to hate. Just inoffensive. That's been VW for every iteration since the Giugiaro originals that dragged them away from bankruptcy. Just make something a little more modern looking, that no one could hate much.

James Junior

743 posts

93 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
kellyt said:
The E60 5 Series stood out. In times of ever more identical cars, it had its own look, it stood out. I hated it when it came out, but as the years have gone by I'd say I respect the E60 for taking a risk. It'll probably go on to be a classic. I'd say the current BMWs have become far more anodyne and just inoffensive.

The safest car design option is not to make design decisions that could surprise, or excite, but to just design something with the fewest lines will make a car distinctive. Nothing to love, but crucially, nothing to hate. Just inoffensive. That's been VW for every iteration since the Giugiaro originals that dragged them away from bankruptcy. Just make something a little more modern looking, that no one could hate much.
I am with you. An E60 in M-Sport spec with those lovely 19" wheels looks great to me. I've always liked the Bangle era stuff. The cars that came after just looks bulbous and overdone to my eye.

pSyCoSiS

2,346 posts

141 months

Friday 30th November
quotequote all
The E39 was really the pinnacle of 5 Series design, and a great all round car. I've had all iterations over the years, and some at 300k miles which still ran like clock work, so mileage isn't an issue. The best build quality of all 5 Series IMO.

This is a great Shed, all the right boxes ticked, and I do believe these early 528i Sports will start to appreciate in value over the next few years. Look at how much an E34 525i Sport goes for these days, and to be honest, this is a much better car.

My Dad has an Aspen Silver 528i SE Auto around 12 years ago. It drove so nice and had the silky smooth six pot pulling it along.

This has to be a contender for Shed Of The Year, surely?!

Edited by pSyCoSiS on Friday 30th November 08:36