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.…

Double Take: 2001 and 2002 BMW M5 Dinan S2s

“Dinan’s latest work of art, he has not only fixed a car that wasn’t broken but also sought to perfect a car that everyone considers to be as close to perfection as is humanly possible: the BMW M5”, Car and Driver wrote in 2002. Dinan had, at that point, already made a reputation for themselves as the premier BMW tuner in the United States to the point where they became offered straight from the dealer. Considering that’s just occurred for Alpina here, the endorsement of the level of engineering from the California firm was resounding. Yet that is in part because Dinan’s modifications are far from just slapping a badge and some wheels on a car and calling it done. Take, for example the M5 S2.

Dinan took what many considered to be a very highly developed 4.9 liter V8 in the S62 and went old-school to up the power; and up it a lot, he did. There was no supercharger or turbocharging here; revised intake and enlarged velocity stacks were met on the other end with tubular headers and a bespoke exhaust. Each throttle body’s bore was increased, too. These changes required a reflash of the computer, but were both lighter and more powerful. As in 76 horsepower more. That’s the best part of a 20% gain on a motor that many considered to be close to peak performance! Dinan further upgraded the suspension, brakes, wheels, and final drive, along with adding a lighter flywheel. As a result, the new S2 was, well, about 20% better than the already awesome M5. But that perfection cost, and it was more than a 20% increase. A lot more.

On top of the M5’s $73,400, if you wanted a fully spec’d out S2 you’d tack on $36,000 to the price. For that amount, you could have grabbed a nice 330Ci in addition to your standard M5!…

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

2000 Dinan BMW M5

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On Friday, Carter related the E39 M5’s star power, even when found in Green on Tan. Today, I bring you one of the most impressive E39s we’ve seen, a 19k-mile M5 with a heap of Dinan upgrades. It’s not quite the full S2 package, but it has enough points to achieve the DINAN trunk badge. As with all Dinan products, we can be sure that they only add to the M5 experience. If I had that supplemented driving machine, I’d have a hard time parking it, but this one has covered fewer than 20k miles. It’s usually a knock against ultra-low-mileage cars when they’re been tuned, and I guess it keeps this from being a museum piece, but we can be sure that it will command a hefty sum – both for the lack of use and the well-chosen, BMW-approved modifications.

Click for details: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay

2001 BMW M5

About halfway through production of the E39 M5, BMW released a series of films from notable directors highlighting their model range. They all starred Clive Owen as the ubiquitous Driver character as the wheelman of a particular model. Some were dark, some were mysterious, but my favorite – and, I believe the favorite of most people – was Guy Ritchie’s Star. For me, it was neither the famous director nor his power-couple wife Madonna that was the star of that particular film, but the Driver‘s M5. Indeed, rewatching the film I found myself comparing the character’s introduction monologue, which ostensibly was about the female character played by Madonna, to the car. The characteristics shared of the dual nature of the iconic singer somehow work juxtaposed onto the M5. That was brought into sharper focus as the film progressed and Blur’s Song 2 – a song that somehow perfectly summed up the M5’s character. A deep base line, rhythmic speed and shouts of “Woo Hooo!” seem to somehow follow the M5 wherever it goes. Over the top? Absolutely, but it seemed that the whole plot line of Star is how most M5 drivers think their daily commute goes.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M5 on Hartford Craigslist

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

Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup of the cars we just didn’t have a chance to get to this week. We’ve got quite a few reader submissions in this edition, and by chance it ends up focusing on some super sedans which are all quite affordable in their own ways. Which is the one we should have spent more time on?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Audi S4 on Denver Craigslist

Tuner Tuesday: 2000 BMW M5

I’ll start this post with the bad news; our reader Z sent in an awesome Dinan S3 spec E39 M5 that was supposed to run in this slot. Unfortunately, although the auction was slated to still be running it ended early, meaning we don’t get to look at that car. Now the good news; because Dinan is a factory-backed tuner and the M5 is one awfully popular machine, here’s another to fill the void! This particular example isn’t quite as wild – without the supercharger, you’ll have to make due with only around 450 horsepower from the naturally aspirated S62 with a host of Dinan upgrades:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay

2001 BMW M5

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The E39 M5 is well known for being one of the wolfiest cars wearing sheeps’ clothing ever. Typically seen in silver or black, I grew up near an Imola Red version that draws a bit more attention. Today’s will draw the gaze of all who pass, including car lovers and cops. As much I love subdued performance machines, red is my favorite color and I actually love this hue on M5s. I might go without the bright chrome wheels, but hey, if you’re going to be blinding people, you might as well get some help from your wheels as well. With right around 100k miles and a Buy-It-Now of $16k, this is a great deal for a stunner in both aesthetics and performance.

Click for details: 2001 BMW M5 on eBay