On its own, the BMW E39 540i M-Sport is an outstanding car in its own right. A sonorous V8, available 6-speed manual and M-Technic suspension added to what was already a quite capable mid-sized executive sedan. However, hovering over the entire E39 lineup was the M5, what is considered by most to be one of the most legendary super saloons to grace God’s green earth. This 400 horsepower beast still dominates the enthusiast scene, taking its place right alongside the Mercedes-Benz 500Es and succession of Audi S4/S6/S8s on the who’s who list of fast four-doors. One could consider the 540i M-Sport an almost M5-light. After speaking with a former colleague yesterday evening who happens to own a 2003 540i M-Sport with a 6-speed manual, the allure of this car is clear. This example for sale in New York happens to be one equipped with the automatic gearbox, perfect for those who might do a little bit more around town driving than the long-haul jaunts.
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One of my favorite vehicle genres is the beefed up sports sedan. Cars such as the Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 and E28 BMW M5 were some of the originators of the breed, but I think many of us can agree that BMW reached a watershed moment with the E39 M5. This car was many things to many people, but for me, it represented exactly what a man’s car should be. A car with some size and heft to it, eight cylinders, six speeds and an aggressive stance with meaty rubber to lay all that horsepower down to the pavement. This M5 for sale in California looks great in Alpine White, an not often seen color for this brute. This one is a three owner car with a bit of tuning thrown in the mix. With 55k miles on the clock, it should have a few ///M car nuts salivating.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M5 on eBay
Wagons are the GCFSB car of choice, if you haven’t noticed. Only our resident Volkswagen/Audi guru Carter is flying the five-door flag, however, with his 2002 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T Variant 5-speed manual. While I sit here and wait for the perfect 1995 Audi S6 Avant to come along, I’ll admire this 2002 BMW 540i Touring for sale in Portland, Oregon. It looks like a real beast, and with Dinan engine mods and a worked over suspension, it’s almost like the M5 Touring that never was.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW 540i Touring on eBay
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.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay
Stare at a BMW E39 estate long enough and I’m pretty sure you’ll forsake all other wagons, perhaps even all other cars depending on your level of longroof love. This car was just one of those times when the designers got it so right it’s almost scary. The artists over at BMW took one of the greatest sedan designs of all time and molded it into the greatest family hauler of its time. The seller goes so far as to say the 540i Touring is the best looking wagon ever made, now or then. He certainly has a point if you focus on the competition of the era but as far as best looking wagon of all time, I’d have to give that to the beastly RS6 Avant. I will however give the 540i Touring the silver medal without a second thought. The proportions on this car are wonderful and it looks good from any angle, the hallmark of a truly exceptional design.
The positives extend far beyond the appearance of the vehicle, it is equally as impressive inside and under its skin. The 540i Touring is powered by a 4.4 liter V8 churning out 290 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, not too shabby even by today’s standards. The superb handling dynamics of the E39 sedan carry over to the estate which makes the car even more desirable. It is by no means a canyon carver but from what I’ve read these cars handle with far better precision than one would think, especially since the damn thing weighs in at 5,043 lbs. When you consider that torsional rigidity was increased over the E34 5 series by 40 percent, the reasoning behind the affinity for these cars becomes quite clear. It’s a big steel caged missile that bests a car held in high regard for its handling capabilities. Having a hot rod that can haul will always be an attractive proposition to me and many other German car enthusiasts, the hard part is picking the right one. I’m always torn between the quintessential 90’s design of the E34 and the slightly more modern E39 but when push comes to shove, I seem to end up envisioning myself in the latter. I’m not sure why but the addition of a few more curves and rounded edges pushes the overall look of the elongated 5 series from great to all time classic.