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Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/10/09 9:03 p.m.

She Who Navigates has decided she really really likes the E39 M5. I'm not the sort to argue, either. Prices on the Übersaloon are dropping hard as a bonus.

I'm looking at one locally. Very local, actually - it currently belongs to my boss and friend Bill. It's a 2002 in black, and looks like Darth Vader's personal shuttlecraft. Based on driving the car, I'd say all 400 horsepower are present and accounted for.

It's not perfect, though. The stereo currently only accepts fundamentalist Christian stations and Fox news, so that's a problem It has 94,000 miles. And a salvage title.

Bill's been working hard on the stereo problem, and he's the sort of guy who will likely track it down at some point. On Tuesday, he had one of the rear interior lights to check out an antenna amplifier embedded in the C pillar. The sheer tonnage of electronics in this car is amazing. The salvage title doesn't seem to have created any real long-term problems, other than a slightly-less-than-ideal front fender fit and some aftermarket xenon headlights that are chrome instead of black.

Obviously, I'd bargain a price in line with the car's mileage and history, and this is part of what makes it affordable - I'm thinking $15k. That's a lot of car for used Honda money. I can fix problems myself (obviously) although parts costs could potentially be spooky. I feel pretty comfortable with it mechanically, due to the fact that I know exactly how the current owner has gone over it and the fact that I can drive it for long periods.

Am I nuts? Bill also has a 540i Sport with the 6-speed that I've driven, and while it's a nice enough car it's not on the same plane as the M5.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn SuperDork
9/10/09 9:10 p.m.

I think you can find them without salvage titles for that kind of money. I've been watching one on my local Craigslist, a 2000 that's listed for $16.5k from a dealer - they've had it listed for almost a year now with no takers. There's also a nice e34 M5 with an asking price of $12k - not as powerful as the e39 but the old straight six M engine is arguably cooler, the e34 chassis is built like a tank, and they have a fraction of the electronics in them.

aussiesmg SuperDork
9/10/09 9:12 p.m.

I have looked at these also Keith but while they are awesome, I think they give off the wrong image for my current needs. That is the only reason I don't have one ..... yet

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/10/09 9:25 p.m.

The price isn't set, and feedback on that is definitely welcome. My $15k estimate was based on looking at closed eBay auctions and the like - but salvage titles are pretty rare, so I'm not sure how much to deduct for that. Bill's basically said "make me an offer", and I think he's going to be a bit shocked when he finds how much the market has dropped in the past year.

One thing to keep in mind is that I'll have to travel at least 250 miles to find another one, and I wouldn't be able to check it out like I can this one. Craigslist didn't turn up any gems around here, but a nice 2002 with 46k sold for $14,300 in Denver recently on eBay. Definitely below market value from what I can see - most of the auctions aren't hitting reserve, probably because owners are still thinking about what they paid!

E34 is nice, but it's the E39 that both Janel and I really like.

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/10/09 9:27 p.m.

I agree with Stuart. I don't think $15k is enough of a discount. Seeing that in print, having just typed it, seems like lunacy, but I stand by the statement.

As a data point, a co-worker recently bought a near-mint 2003 (black on black) with ~65k miles locally for $22k. From what I recall of his research, 2003 and up model years are the cars to be looking for.

I love them. I'll take one in Lemans Blue over caramel please!

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/10/09 9:41 p.m.
dyintorace wrote: From what I recall of his research, 2003 and up model years are the cars to be looking for.

2003 was the last year of the E39. There's no 2004, then the E60 showed up in 2005.

Gorgeous color!

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/10/09 9:49 p.m.
Keith wrote: 2003 was the last year of the E39. There's no 2004, then the E60 showed up in 2005. Gorgeous color!

True. I meant 2002 and up. Sorry!

Lemans Blue is my favorite, though Imola Red is pretty on the M5 as well.

dyintorace GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/10/09 9:50 p.m.

Also, he immediately put on this same exhaust system. And here I thought they sounded killer stock!


z31maniac Dork
9/10/09 10:19 p.m.

I've heard they are scarily expensive to maintain.

Other than that I'd love one.

pigeon Reader
9/10/09 10:41 p.m.

I think the (awesome) M5 has been discussed here before - bottom line, look long and hard at the maintenance requirements and to see what special part$ the M5 may need vs. the 540i/6 before jumping in. I've never driven one personally, probably because I'd wind up selling my 750Li for one but I was plenty impressed with the E60 550i/6 I drove before I bought the big 7 - I can't imagine how good the M5 really is...

I'll also chime in that $15k seems high - salvage with an electrical problem is probably more like $12k in my book. Of course, you probably can't lowball your boss too much - maybe ask him what he wants for it instead? Basic negotiating says get the other side to make the first move, you may be surprised to find that Bill wants less than you were going to offer (yeah unlikely but you never know).

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/10/09 11:30 p.m.

I already let Bill name a price, and his response was obviously based on what he paid for the car a year ago. Prices have dropped quite a bit since then - a friend of mine who's got an E46 M3 says the same thing has happened with those cars. I think that's why a lot of the eBay auctions aren't making reserve. The fact that he's my boss factors into the equation far less than the fact that he's a friend. I know the car's in good shape other than the audio system, and I know that anything he tells me will be the truth. That adds some value to the car to me.

Anyhow, I shouldn't have brought the pricing into it. I know that as soon as you mention pricing on an internet forum there's always the "that's too much!" discussion I'm just trying to figure if I'm buying trouble. There are some great ones available at the $20-22k price point (and well above that), but that's a bit over my comfort level.

nderwater Reader
9/10/09 11:44 p.m.

I always thought the E39 would make an awesome family car, and ours has. After selling our Jetta a few years ago my wife and I looked at early 540i's (97-00) before finding a great deal on a low mileage '01 530i and figured it would be cheaper to maintain and fill the tank than a V8. That goes double for the M5 - it's a dead sexy car, but not cheap to keep on the road. That said, it's just money right? If you're going to spend it on a car, why not get something you live. Besides, (I hate to say it) but a $15,000 M5 gets you a hell of a lot more car than a $15,000 Miata.

Butch_86 New Reader
9/11/09 12:05 a.m.

I love the E39. IMO the best 5 series that BMW made.

My father just got rid of his 2003 530i black on black, loaded with almost 90k on the clock. He got just shy of 11k for it. The only reason he sold the car is because it also had a phantom wiring problem the lights in the car would no longer come on when he opened the door. He had it into the shop and they couldn't figure it out. He then went to the dealership (thinking that they could do better) they also could not find the phantom and said the only way to fix it was to rewire a good chunk of the car.

I also had a friend with a E39. It also had a minor wiring issue but he totaled the car before he could get it fixed.

I say 15k sounds a little high I am with Pigeon 12k sounds right for a salvage M5 with a wiring issue.

Brust Reader
9/11/09 5:33 a.m.

I can never find good deals, but there is one in our area for $13.5 with 118k that is otherwise apparently in great shape.


Two others though, are in the low 20's.

Rusty_Rabbit84 Dork
9/11/09 9:55 a.m.

I remember right...

Clutches always go out after 80k... All E39 Cupholders suck...

njansenv Reader
9/11/09 10:04 a.m.
Rusty_Rabbit84 wrote: I remember right... Clutches always go out after 80k... All BMW Cupholders suck...


I WANT that Black M5@13.5k. I hadn't realized they'd gone that low... Shame about the highway mileage (I do ~100miles a day)....

I've heard concerns about some of the emissions stuff getting plugged with carbon...though how much that matters depends on local emission requirements (and CEL tolerance) more than affecting actual performance.


belteshazzar SuperDork
9/11/09 10:04 a.m.

You may let him try selling it for a little while. This allows him the opportunity to see what people are really paying for them, despite what they're "worth" (which in my mind, is a LOT. whatagreatcar omgomg). Additionally, if he really can get what he wants for it, great. right? And when he doesn't, your sincere $12.5 offer will not be an insult.

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Reader
9/11/09 10:19 a.m.

I will throw it out there once. Having driven both I personally would go with a CTS-V. It has the LS series motor you are getting familiar with and parts are pretty cheap and easy to come by. Look up the Top Gear review of it. Entertaining and pretty honest.

The rear end is a know problem and the interior is not nearly as nice as the BMW although long term it will likely hold up better. Price are around 15k to 25k depending on the year, mileage etc.

That being said the M5 is a fantastic car the parts and maintainence cost scare me though. If you need more convincing look here... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1dYv_gKTA8

I got the chance to drive one when new with only 17 miles on it. Unsupervised

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/11/09 11:18 a.m.

Thanks guys. I'm not looking to play the "what other car?" game, I've been through that on my own time CTS-V would be pretty nice, but it's the E39 we're looking at.

I've sent Bill the results of my pricing research, we'll see what he says. He may just decide to keep the car! He's currently at Miller Motorsports park doing a turbo install on a car at the NASA nationals, I'll probably speak to him this weekend.

I've got the DVD of the BMW Hire films. Might have to do a bit of recreation

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/17/09 9:14 a.m.

Update! Bill and I have reached an agreement on price. I'm not going to say what it is, simply say that most people here would probably be pretty happy with it. Both Bill and I are, which is what counts.

We're buying a BMW Übersaloon for the price of a 4-year-old Civic. This will be fun.

John Brown
John Brown GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/17/09 9:27 a.m.

Wow Christmas Bonus?


pigeon Reader
9/17/09 9:28 a.m.

Good for you, even if Bill's breaking my personal rule of never sell to family or people you work with. Get some pics up in Reader's Rides!

Kendall_Jones Reader
9/17/09 11:49 a.m.


Also, if anyone is looking for a great E39 project, I've got a 540i with bad engine I'm looking to sell. :) Its not quite challenge priced, but close ;)

Ebay item 290327896679


dj06482 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/17/09 12:14 p.m.

Wow great news, can't wait to see/hear more about it. Remember, it's your navigator's car

Ian F
Ian F HalfDork
9/17/09 12:36 p.m.

Sweet. I love the E39 M5 and drool over them often (they're somewhat common around here).

I was just watching the Hire DVD a little while ago...

Right now, the other half and I may be looking for an E39 M52 wagon. Or maybe a Volvo 850... Unfortunately, her back has been screaming for her to add an auto-tragic to our fleet...

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