SOTW: BMW 528i (E39)

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

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (177) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Stitch 06 Apr 2012

    Proper shed.

  • g3org3y 06 Apr 2012

    Brilliant SOTW. If the engine hasn't given up by now, I wouldn't be worried about Nikasil. Good find cool

  • NelsonR32 06 Apr 2012

    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 06 Apr 2012

    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 06 Apr 2012

    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...

View all comments in the forums Make a comment