Tuned BMW E60 M5s

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You might think that a car that has a simple button to raise its power by 100 horses might have enough, but today we have two E60 M5s that will explain to you why that kind of thinking makes you a peacenik ninny. I mean, if you can get a V10 in used Audis, then you have to do something to make your M5 stick out, right? These two E60s take pretty different approaches to power and style – supercharger vs. stroker, manual vs. SMG, Eurotuner vs. Roundel – but both represent about as insane of Autobahn stormers as you can find.

Click for details: 2008 BMW M5 on eBay

2000 BMW M5

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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve featured cars more modern than my predilection for ’80s German metal typically allows. Two were cars I’ve dreamt about owning since they were released, both in gorgeous deep-blue hues: the E39 M5 and MkIV R32. The Le Mans Blue M5 was an excellent, 75k-mile example with the sumptuous Caramel leather but came at a steep price – over $32k. The Deep Blue Pearl R32 had about 100k miles and asked $15k – a far cry from its MSRP and seemingly a good value for the performance. Today’s M5 throws the viability of either of those cars into question, bringing the many impressive strengths of the E39 M5 but at the same price as the R32. BMW maintenance may run more than VW, but it’s not like the MkIV is known for being bulletproof. With Tubi exhaust you’ll even be able to drown out the R32’s VR6 grumble while you enjoy luxury the VW could never match. It’s not the most attractive combo – silver on black/grey pales in comparison to the rich blue/caramel – but it’s a truckload of performance for the money.

Click for details: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay

1988 BMW M5

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I typically would stay far away from posting a car in the condition of today’s E28 M5, and not just because it hurts my heart to see rust all around the lower edges of the car. We’ve posted a few project cars, but for the most part GCFSB is interested in nice examples of fast, rare, and awesome German cars. This M5 inherently covers the first two, but falls far short of awesome. The reason I’m posting it is because the no-reserve auction is already well over $12k, more than I paid for my distinctly non-rusty M5 a few years ago. This one has a Euro bumper and headlight conversion that shares the major flaws on parts close to the pavement. The S38 has 167k miles, but certainly holds some intrinsic value if you look at this as some bidders probably are: a parts car, or at least a car that will need another parts car to become complete. It’s about as unoriginal and in-need-of-work M5 as I’ve seen that runs, yet is still getting scores of bids! The bottom of the market coming up like this is as strong of evidence of the E28 M5’s overall rise as any.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

2002 BMW M5

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Ah, the E39 M5: the humble king of supersedans. Plenty of followers have come out with more tech, more power, and more luxury, but none have found the perfect balance that made the E39 M5 astonishing when it came out and still eminently desirable today. Its 394hp shocked when released, but it was backed up a chassis and 6-speed transmission equally ready to brawl. It’s a holistic package that gets blown away on paper by today’s sedans bordering on or exceeding 600hp and yet still represents the platonic ideal for many enthusiasts.

This example in Texas has a lot going for it. 75k miles is right in the middle of the 50-100k wheelhouse for these cars, enough to protect it from cream-puff prices but not too many as to worry about big maintenance. Le Mans Blue over Caramel is a lovely combination, but my association of this BMW interior with a friend’s E36 M3 would make me long for that car’s Estoril exterior as well. It looks to be in just about perfect shape inside and out, but even then the price looks a bit high.

Click for details: 2002 BMW M5 on Fall Creek Motorcars

2001 BMW 540i 6-speed

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The E39 M5 is certainly the king of the hill when it comes to balanced and clean super sedans. It has enough power to blow the doors off of most sports cars, inherent chassis balance to make twisties fun, enough luxury to make you feel great, and styling that deftly melds classy and aggressive. While the M5 deservedly gets a hefty share of 5-series fandom, the E39 540i approaches many of those capabilities at a fraction of the cost – both up-front and in maintenance. The available 6-speed manual further bolsters its driver’s-car cred, creating a slick executive sedan that chooses subtlety and quiet capability over M-powered and -badged bragging rights.

This beautiful grey example came to our attention thanks to reader John. For sale in Orange County, it has just about every option and has been owned by a “super anal BMW enthusiast.” I’m sure there are plenty of jokes there for BMW haters but we’ll focus on the intent, which is corroborated by beautiful presentation inside and out and with a strong list of maintenance over the last couple of years. The sharp cross-haired, M5-aping M-tech front fascia wasn’t available until 2003, meaning this 540i gets the exceedingly simple narrow oval aperture shared with the lower 525i and 530i. All the better for flying under the radar while the 282hp V8 and 6-speed create plenty of smiles. Perfect Style 32 wheels complete a package that doesn’t stand out but does stand up to the test of time. With a diligent owner and just 107k miles, this can make an outstanding highway commuter for years to come.

Click for details: 2001 BMW 540i on eBay

1988 BMW 535is/Euro M5 Conversion

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Hagerty has this car listed under BMW E28 M5s, but its origin as a 525is and ensuing plethora of modifications make it a difficult car to classify. It recently received a Euro exterior conversion after a huge modification list of aftermarket E28 parts and OEM M5 parts, creating a FrankenE28 that is truly impressive. Bored and stroked S38s in any chassis are the stuff dreams are made of, with this custom build’s 350hp usurping even the almighty S38B38. A Wilwood big brake kit and Dinan/Koni/Bilstein suspension set up deviate from staying too true to the M5, but a full M5 interior and trunk, including battery relocation, are classy and expensive conversions. While not a fully dedicated M5 tribute/conversion, this ticks all the boxes in the outstanding E28 category.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

1992 BMW 525i Touring with 59k miles

If ever there was a company car for The Hamptons, it would be the luxury estate vehicle. No surprise, then, that this 1992 BMW 525i Touring finds itself not far from those beaches in Syosset, New York. The E34 Touring was BMW’s second attempt at an in-house estate car, following on the five-door version of the popular E30 3 series that was never sold new to US customers. With the dawn of a new decade, BMW decided to gift the US the 5 series Touring, which would become a hit for families looking for something a bit more dynamic for the school run. Sadly, one of the company’s tastiest offerings, the M5 Touring, would still be out of our reach. Nevertheless, BMW would continue to offer the 5 series Touring for two more generations of 5 series, but sadly, we are now stuck with the awkwardly proportioned 5 series Gran Turismo. This 525i Touring has under 60,000 miles on the odometer, a rarity these days as many of these long roof E34s have been run hard and put up wet.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 525i Touring on eBay

2002 BMW 540i Sport

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I first came across the listing for this 2002 BMW 540i M-Sport nearly 6 months ago, and frankly I’m shocked to see it still for sale. It was a garage queen during the first owner’s stewardship and the current owner says he didn’t use it for daily commuting. The seller has done a great job photographing the usual problem areas associated with vehicles living in coastal areas, and included lots of important information. Additionally, there are numerous recent articles floating around the internet that heap praise upon this sleeper Bimmer, and we’ve done a fair amount of worshiping at the temple of the E39 ourselves. Still, the 540i M-Sport remains a cult classic, unlike its sibling, and mainstream media darling, the E39 M5.

When I was in the market for a new car, I often had moments where I’d be looking at a performance variant of a model, and wonder if spending the extra money was indeed worth it. There are many factors that effect the answer to that question, the majority of them vary person to person, but on thing remains true across the board. Nobody needs an M5, but everybody covets that badge. Nobody needs an 540i either, but between the two, it’s the more rational choice. The thing is, we’re irrational beings, even when we think we’ve got a solid handle on things, we let our emotions get the best of us. More and more we’re a society that deals in extremes, and the 540i M-Sport is hardly extreme. Is it reaching to say this car hasn’t sold because people are so obsessed with the prestige that comes with driving an M5? Maybe, but if it’s a stretch, it’s an easy one. The market for V8 powered Euro sedans with 3 pedals is shrinking given that the mainstream mindset is TURBO EVERYTHING!

1985 BMW M535i

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The M535i is an interesting piece of BMW history in many ways. On the plus side, it came straight from the E12 M535i, which was a direct result of BMW’s motorsports efforts and was hand-built. Unfortunately, the E28 M535i was no longer hand-built nor rare. Mostly a bodykit and ///M badges unless some options boxes were ticked, the M535i acted more as an advertisement for the BMW’s blossoming M Division, getting those tricolored stripes and Ms out in public as the M3, M5, and M6 took charge as the real performance flag bearers. With rose colored lenses we could see it as an instrumental piece of building the extra-performance arm of the Ultimate Driving Machine; cynically, it can be identified as the beginning of BMW’s whoring out of the M cachet as all show and no go. Whatever your viewpoint, they are relatively rare, never-sold-here E28 legends that will attract some attention from those in the know.

This example isn’t pristine but is better than decent and represents a nice opportunity to get in a piece of E28 history for a reasonable price. The exterior appears to be the best part, with nice paint and complete M-Technic bodykit. The interior – though cloth, which I love – has some unfortunate holes, though not much worse than you’d see on leather. I absolutely love the Style 32 wheels in general, and they fit the OEM+ nature of the M535i perfectly – better than most other E28s I’ve seen with them. With a brake upgrade and recent tune-up, 165k miles isn’t much of a concern on the workhorse M30. All of this for $8,500 or less, right in the heart of good E28 money.

Click for details: 1985 BMW 535i on eBay

1994 BMW 530i Touring

I feel as though I’ve been on a kick of featuring performance variants lately and while a well maintained go-fast-machine is certainly attention grabbing, I think there is something to be said for solid basic transportation as well. This 1994 BMW 530iT lives only a few minutes away from me and I swear I’ve seen it out on local streets. E34 wagons always catch my eye, I’ve written up a number of them in the past, and while I usually look for rare ones with a 3rd pedal, I couldn’t pass over this example.

It appears to be quite clean overall and the seller mentions that $1,400 in service was recently performed. With an older BMW that could have easily been one minor part and a bunch of labor, but still, good to know it has recently been in the shop. I’d be sure to find out where he took it and touch base with the shop to see how well they know the car. The seller does mention that he has all the maintenance records from new, so either they’re the original owner or the records came with the car. Lots more to find out here, but I have to say this is one intriguing package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 530i Touring on Craigslist Los Angeles