Growing up, I never really understood the appeal of wagons, or “estates” as we called them in England. The triumph of sensibleness and practicality over style, they didn’t seem particularly cool or desirable. Instead, they were for posh people in the countryside who owned big dogs. But as I’ve gotten older, and particularly since I moved to America, something has changed. Not only do I find myself needing to carry around a lot more stuff these days, but wagons have become, well, cool. No longer the staple of the staid upper classes, they’re for the person who needs the extra space of an SUV or a minivan but says “f-that, I’m not ready to give up on life just yet.” And there are some seriously cool wagons around these days. On a recent trip home to London, the first sight greeting me in the car park at Heathrow was that of an F11 530d M-Sport, B8 S4 Avant and an E63 AMG estate, all lined up next to each other. It’s as if somebody was trying to make a point.
The E39 Touring, already a fairly handsome car, looks especially good when specified with the M-sport package, as here. This particular 540i represents the top of the range and not only has it been blessed with M exterior styling and sport suspension, as an added bonus the current owner has gone to the trouble of retrofitting a 6-speed manual transmission from an M5, turning this into a quick, capable and seriously cool longroof.
The E39 is a classic, handsome car that may well go down in history as the quintessential 5-series. The wagon was merely an extension of the good looks and capability, multiplied when they saw fit to drop the smooth M62 4.4 liter V8 in it. Manuals were available but extremely hard to come by, and while that would certainly be preferable, an automatic is well-suited for highway and family-hauling duty. With just 84k miles, this luxury wagon is roughly the same price as a VW Jetta TDI wagon of similar vintage. If you’re not too worried about gas mileage, I know for certain which one brings more comfort and speed for the money.
It’s a wagon kind of week. It took me some time to come around to the notion that the Germans do not make a very good SUV. It’s not their fault, they really don’t want to, but the market demand in the states is just too lucrative to turn your back on. Drive through any major, or not so major, metropolitan European city and you will find tons of touring wagons. You may see the occasional SUV but this is the exception and not the rule.
Much of this may be due to gas prices and the tight confines these cars need to be wedged into. The rest of it may be attributed to the fact that SUV’s are, well, kind of ugly. I can’t remember the last time I saw one and said, “I gotta have that.” It’s not that I have not tried, having owned a Touareg, XC90, Cayenne, and a X5 I figure I have tried more than most. But I am over it, my next German family mover is going to be a German Wagon. Something that looks a great deal like this.
From the seller –
“I have worked in the automobile business in one form or another for over thirty years and this is one of or maybe the nicest 60,000 mile car I have ever seen. It is all original, unmolested, and as near new as any I have ever seen. The E39 BMW is held in the highest regard by BMW enthusiast and often referred to as the best 5series ever. Car and Driver call it the nearest to perfect automobile. This car handles with the agility of a 3series and the comfort of a 7series. One of the most satisfying cars you will ever drive. Finding cars like this is my passion, driving it will be yours. This car is clean, fully serviced and ready to enjoy.”
Beautiful car, I would like to see some better pictures and some info on service history but… what can you do. I see lower mileage examples such as this knocking around the auctions but they are never running right and always seem to have unibody damage. Do your homework here buyers. I appreciate the seller’s enthusiasm for this wagon but the listing is a bit scant on details so be careful.
Almost $16k is a tough sale, regardless of condition. Something closer to $14k seems to be more accurate. I am guessing this auction is not going anywhere until the seller comes down in price a bit.
I seem to be on a sport wagon kick. This 540iT is the prettiest of the recent lot.
The car has traveled 131,901 miles and some where along the way it had some cosmetic surgery. While the driveline is all still stock, unlike the other two wagons I recently posted, this one has alot of flair on the outside.
The car had its white paint replaced with the ubiquitous, for the BMW guy looking for attention, Laguna Seca blue. Then a BMW M5 widebody kit with wide wheel arches was added. A Remus exhaust and some deep dish rims wrapped in meaty 285/30 19s out back give this car a much sportier feel. KW coil overs help it in the turns.
Inside the car has new buckets and a sprinkling of carbon fiber look wrap. The seller says there are a few electrical gremlins inside and an intermittent check engine light.
As the seller says it would be nice to swap in a full M5 driveline, but this is a looker that still will have decent performance. Bonus points go to the owner for the Hybrid emblem on the hatch lid. If it did have an M5 powerplant that badge would perhaps be more suitable.
The ask price is $18,000. There won’t be any bidders at that price, but when the seller can start lopping off several thousand I’m sure this car will get attention.
Another fun wagon for the soccer parents.
This pretty much stock looking 540i Touring has one sneaky change that makes a world of difference. The automatic transmission has been hauled out and a six speed.
The car itself has 135,000 miles on it, the engine is a replacement unit from a 740i with 90K and the transmission has 110K. Other mods include upgraded steering from a 2001 7 series with an M5 steering box, an M5 sway bar, some A.C. Schnitzer springs, and Dinan tune. A set of black BMW rims add to the stealth look.
The car comes with a rebuilt title, from what the seller says is a fender bender. You will want to get more details there.
The ask price is $7,000 with no reserve. While that isn’t very much to pay for a BMW wagon with V8 power and a 6 speed manual you are putting faith in the previous owner’s conversion/transplant on a car with a previous salvage title, that has zero warranty. Cool car, it would bring twice that if it came that way from the factory. I wish the parts used in the engine and transmission conversion had less miles on them, but an enthusiast whose good with a wrench should be able to keep this one on the road no problem.
With the popularity of the BMW X3 and X5 these days, the BMW 5 series wagon has taken a backseat to the sport utility vehicle craze and, it was recently announced that the newly revised F10 (we’re not using the E prefix anymore) 5 series wagon will not be coming to the US. Instead, we’ll be left with the newly developed 5 series Gran Turismo, which, from what it appears to me, is trying to be a sedan/SUV/wagon all in one. Whatever it is, when I saw it in person, it just didn’t work for me. It’s too big for my tastes, which is sadly the case with most new cars these days.
Let’s take a look at simpler times, when you could have a good, honest BMW wagon with a V8 and rear wheel drive:
The seller states:
2000 BMW 540iT Wagon, Sunroof, 6-CD Changer, Alloy Wheels, Remote Start, Navigation. 66,992 miles
With no reserve, the bidding is still under $10,000, which is a steal for a car with this much hauling capacity and power. Just the thing for that trip to the Hamptons. And an even bigger question looms: will the Hamptons embrace the Gran Turismo as much as they have the 5 series wagon in the past?