2001 BMW 540i Sport with 1,890 Miles

Sport, M-Sport, Sport, M-Sport, Sport, M-Sport. Choose your title! More research and some comments from our astute readership seems to confirm that the official title of this car is 540i Sport in the USA, though it includes items labeled as M-Sport within that package. Thanks to everyone for their commentary and following!

Starting in late 1999 for the 2000 model year, BMW replaced the “Sport” package on the E39 with the newly recycled “M-Sport” moniker. Of course, the M-Sport had been seen on the E34 before and carried M-bits over to the normal 540i model. This was much the same for the E39; moving forward, the M-Sport models not only got the upgraded suspension and larger wheels associated with the sport package, but also gained a M-Sport steering wheel, shift knob and door sills. However, it wouldn’t be until the 2003 model year that the M-Sport reached its full potential when BMW slotted the M-Technic bumper covers on to create a ‘M5 light’ once again.

In between, there were minor changes mostly notable for different wheel designs. In 2001, for example, the Style 66 wheels were used. Staggered at 17×8 in front and 17×9 in the rear, the wheels mimicked the design of the Style 65 18″ M5 wheels minus the second set of split-5 spokes inset. These wheels were also coincidentally the optional winter wheel package for the M5. But without the bigger bumpers and M-Parallel wheels associated with the 2003, the 2000-2002 models were much more understated in their approach and to most aren’t quite as desirable as the M-Tech’d models.

Of course, when you find a showroom fresh one with only 1,890 miles, maybe that doesn’t matter?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 540i M-Sport on Phoenix Craigslist

Double Take 540i/6: E34 or E39? 1995 BMW 540i Sport v. 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

My recent M5 v. Alpina B10 post took a look at two exotic versions of the E34. Of course, BMW offered their own alternative to the M5 late in the production cycle, as the introduction of the M60 V8-powered 540i produced nearly as much usable power as the more expensive M variant. Such was the success of the 540i that BMW initially judged the M5 dead in this market; it was removed from the U.S. in 1993 after slow sales and wouldn’t return until the new millennium.

As a result, the 540i flew the 5-series performance flag for two generations and still is very popular today. Especially in Sport versions, the E34 and E39 540is offered power, refinement and outstanding chassis dynamics in a package that was attainable for more people. So which is the better buy today – the first or second generation?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on eBay

Roll the Dice? 2002 BMW M5

As we drove home in our E61 the other day, an E60 M5 with temporary plates sat in front of my wife and me at a light. She commented “Are those getting cheap? Because I’m seeing them more often…” She’s right. The E60 M5, with its screaming 500 horsepower V10, now can be had for around the same price as an entry level Hyundai. Pound for pound, they’re now the cheapest way to get into an M-branded 5-series. But though we own a fifth generation five, I’ll admit frankly that it’s not a car that’s for everyone. It’s big, heavy and complicated – and can be quite expensive to fix. Couple that with any M engine and drivetrain, and these cars are capable of draining your wallet as fast as they can accelerate.

So although the power levels are lower and they’re not as flashy or modern, for many the E39 model that preceded the one we saw is still the epitome of M5s (though they’re often challenged by an equally vocal group who says the first one is the only one!). We’ve seen them start to trend upwards after dipping a bit low over the last few years, and now places such as Enthusiast Auto Group have a plethora in the $35,000 – $80,000 range depending on mileage. So you missed out on this fan-favorite, as well?

Not so fast.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M5 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday Double Take: 2002 and 2003 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

There are a few select automotive tuners who can take an impressive package and refine it into an even better entity. That group includes legends such as AMG, Alpina and Ruf – all of which are staples of this segment.

Yet they are far from alone. Given the task of improving on what is generally considered to be one of the greatest sedans ever made is no small feat, but if there was one group up to it, it was Steve Dinan’s eponymous company in California.

While just about anyone can take a turbocharged engine and crank up the boost, slap a few stickers on it and call it done, the E39 M5 didn’t come with forced induction. On top of that, it was a motor which wasn’t exactly underdeveloped before it went into production. Nor were the brakes, suspension, or any other aspect of the third gen M5. But Dinan thought they could improve upon them, and with a tremendous amount of work, did.

Dinan went to town on the S62 from start to end. Out came the factory air boxes, air meters and velocity stacks, replaced by Dinan units of larger diameter and better flow qualities, along with larger throttle bodies bored out by the company. This necessitated reprogramming of the computer controls for the engine to match the new flow characteristics. To help the exhaust side of the motor, unique tubular headers were fit to a free-flowing, lightweight exhaust system. While this sounds a bit like old-school engineering, it was successful; the result was an additional 76 horsepower and 51 lb.ft of torque – basically, this was like adding a 1980 Rabbit’s worth of power to an already powerful car.

Dinan coupled the engine mods with a shorter final drive and higher rev-limiter to reach fantastic speeds. The S2 was capable of 0-60 runs around 4 seconds flat and, in unrestricted mode, geared out around 190 mph in 6th.…

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport Touring

I’m not really sure where the “wagons are cool” craze comes from. Back in Europe, estates tend to be regarded as a bit boring. But the longer I’ve lived in America, the more I can relate. Camping trips, afternoons spent chasing down furniture on Craigslist, and weekends spent helping friends move apartments in the city have all led me to appreciate the appeal of a good wagon.The highly competent 540i sedan is already well loved, combining a well-balanced chassis with a torquey 4.4 liter V8 that puts out about 290 hp. The Touring version offers all of this plus a load space nearly on par with that of a small pickup, once the seats are folded down. What’s even better than a 540i Touring? A 540i Touring M-Sport, which adds more aggressively styled, M5-like bumpers, firmer sport suspension, sport seats and shadowline trim (sedans also received M-Parallel wheels, although Tourings did not).

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport on Portland, OR Craigslist

2002 BMW M5

4The E39 M5 continues to be a firm fan favorite, and it’s not hard to see why. These cars offer a compelling combination of brilliant performance and everyday practicality, all served up in a beautifully balanced chassis with a slick 6-speed gearbox and screamer of a naturally-aspirated V8 engine. I have no doubt that they will one day be regarded as classics: perhaps the last of BMW’s M-cars from the analog era, before the advent of dual clutch auto-manuals, turbos and piped-in sound effects. Even nice examples aren’t that expensive today, when you consider how much car you’re getting. It’s probably a good time to buy one, since they continue to climb in value with each passing year.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums

2003 BMW M5

3The E39 M5 is an everyday supercar whose restrained exterior belies the power that comes from the monster lurking underneath its skin, a 4.9 liter V8 that makes 394 hp and will scream its way up to a 7,000 RPM redline. There’s something very pure and unadulterated about this car, and this gives it a special place in the heart of most M-enthusiasts. That purity comes from the application of a very simple (and by now seemingly old-fashioned) formula: take a big, naturally aspirated motor and add 3 pedals, 6 gears and only subtle exterior modifications to the already quite conservatively styled 5-series body shape. The product is a practical, four door sedan that you can use to pick up your groceries and drive your family to the mall. Or, blitz around the track.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW M5 on eBay

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

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Yesterday Paul wrote up a 530i Sport noting that for many, the styling of the E39 5-series is vastly preferable to the E60 that came afterward, burdened as it is with awkward creases and controversial styling courtesy of BMW design guru Chris Bangle. I tend to agree, although I also think the E60, especially in sport specification, will probably become better appreciated as it ages. While yesterday’s 530i with an autobox represents, as Paul put it, the “bread and butter” of the range, this particular car is a bit more special. The standard 540i, powered by a torquey 4.4 liter V8 making nearly 300 hp, is already a very capable sport sedan in its own right. The M-sport package however, which adds M-sport exterior styling, suspension and wheels, brings the car within firing range of the M5.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on Bimmerforums

2001 BMW 530i

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It’s been more than a decade since the E60 BMW 5 series debuted and most will agree that time hasn’t been too kind to that design. Too often, what is radical and forward thinking at a certain time becomes another man’s dated design a few years down the road. For many, however, the E39 5 series was the watershed for BMW’s mid-sized sedan. It brought us one of the most beloved M5s of all, packing a 4.9 liter V8 mated exclusively to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Offered in both sedan and Touring format with a wide range of engines, the bread and butter model would be the 530i, which could be optioned with a Sport Package for those looking to tart up their ride with some M bits, tighter suspension and more aggressive wheel and tire package. This 530i for sale in Arizona looks sharp in monochromatic Royal Red with the Style 66 alloy wheels.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 530i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1998 Alpina B10 V8

By the late 1990s, it was becoming increasingly difficult for tuners to compete with the stock offerings. Tightening emissions and safety regulations made getting turned up models harder to sneak past inspection, while simultaneously manufacturers were producing hotter models. The 540i is a great example, and you don’t need to look much further than the conundrum of the E34 M5 versus the various 540i Sport and especially M-Sport models. While the aluminum V8 may not have had the horsepower of the M5 model but only just, it had more usable torque and was (theoretically, at least) cheaper to run. It was so good, in fact, that supposedly when it came to the E39 model BMW was unsure if a M5 would be necessary in our market. So, it would seem to be the natural and easy choice to modify, right? Well, not so fast – because signature tuner Alpina had a problem. Its tried and true method of increasing displacement wouldn’t work on the M62 because you couldn’t bore out the special Nic/Alusil coated blocks. Game over, right? No. If you’re Alpina, you call up BMW and get them to make you a bigger motor:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Alpina B10 V8 on Vancouver Craigslist