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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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.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW 540i Touring
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
While I may have given the E38 some style points over the E39 this morning thanks to a slightly sharper design theme, there’s no questioning that the E39 M5 is among the most – if not the most – desirable sports sedans ever made. Great handling, monster power, and business-class aggression all come together for a Liam Neeson-type action star: “Is the plot different? Who cares. I’ll watch this brand of grown-up ass-kicking all day.” Today’s well cared for model comes up for sale with just under 50k miles on the clock – a number I’m sure the seller was well aware of. That’s near the top of the market and almost twice what some examples will cost, but low mileage makes champions in this arena. Dark grey on black is a dapper combo for this vengeful father – all the better to hide the blood.