I think many of us know that in the world of performance coupes the Porsche 996TT is incredibly tough to beat on value. What about sedans? Where does the buyer in need of proper rear seating and a decent trunk look for performance value? The place to start almost certainly is the E39 M5. These also happen to be my personal favorite of the breed. With the E39 you get 400hp mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and a shape that seems almost perfectly proportioned for a sedan. These are aggressive appearing without being comically so and seem to have had all of the extra fat trimmed away. While later M5s would showcase improved performance the design has never appealed to me and the current models seem huge by comparison. Best of all, these days an E39 is about as reasonably priced as they likely will ever get. A really low-mileage example may command a decent premium, but for a driver-quality car they’re darn hard to beat. Here we have just such a driver-quality example: a Black on Black 2000 BMW M5, located in Arizona, with 56,610 miles on it.
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After a long winter for many of us, clear skies and sunshine are back. A car like this M Roadster epitomizes summer, looking resplendent in Dakar Yellow. This particular example for sale in New York has under 50,000 miles on the clock and offers M3 levels of performance in a fun, diminutive drop-top package.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW M Roadster on eBay
It was around my second year in college that the chance arose for me to finally get behind the wheel of the (then) newly introduced Mercedes SLK230. My first impression is that for such a small car, it drove just like a regular Mercedes. Except it was smaller. Up until around 15 years ago, I maintained that you could blindfold me and I could tell you if I was riding in a Mercedes or not. The SLK was no different. Steering with a bit of heft to it, a firm but compliant ride and a smooth automatic gearbox were the order of the day. Some complained about the agricultural nature of the supercharged inline-4, but it offered plenty of power to scoot you around in a hurry.
Mercedes upped the enthusiast ante shortly after the SLK debuted and offered a 5-speed manual gearbox. Not since the 190E had US customers been able to spec a Mercedes with three pedals. To this day, you can still order a new SLK250 with a 6-speed manual, but who knows how long that will last. I tend to think someone at Mercedes-Benz USA forgot this was on the menu. If you don’t want to plunk down the coin for a new SLK, this SLK230 for sale in Pennsylvania gives you the chance to enjoy a lot of fresh air and the freedom to row your own.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230 on eBay
However subtle the exterior modifications may be, the E39 M5’s enlarged front aperture and unique wheels still grab my attention from blocks away. As nice examples become the exception, these super sedans are hovering around the bottom of their depreciation curve, no longer going down but not shooting up as quickly as they soon will. With examples between 50-100k miles hovering around $25-30k, this looks like an enthusiast-owned driver that’s very nice but not perfect and being sold at a very reasonable price.
Click for details: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay
Do you want to stand out in the vintage German crowd? There are plenty of expensive ways; drop a couple of million on a barn find 300SL Gullwing and everyone will be talking about you. But, say you don’t have a few million? Well, even for the modest budgeted enthusiast, many of the classics are heading out of reach. In the world of BMWs, vintage 3.0s are heading towards six figures for the best examples and even the 2002 – the car that started the craze of BMW’s sport sedan heritage – can be an expensive proposition for an average enthusiast. If you want a really nice example, you’ll be spending between $25,000 and $30,000 for a good carburetor example. Tiis are even more highly sought, pushing $50,000 for the best examples. Even a top condition lowly Isetta can run over $40,000. That doesn’t mean you’re pushed out of the classic BMW market if you’re not made of money; witness the BMW 2000, the semi-forgotten sports sedan that shared much of its architecture with the 2002 but offers 4-door sports sedan practicality: