I remember the launch of the E39 as if it was only yesterday and yet it’s actually 23 years ago. Can you believe it? 23 years already. Makes me feel old.
I was a hardcore E28 fan having owned many 525e, 528, M535 and M5s. I did fall in love with the shape of the E39 immediately, but I recall convincing myself that it would never be the same quality drive that the E28 provided. The first example I drove was in 1997 and it was the first diesel version, a 525 TDS. Well, I was blown away by the chassis. These new 5 series weighed in at close to 1800 KGs and yet they felt as nimble and forgiving as an M3. I put the car on the ramp and saw why. The E39 chassis was the first 5 series to make serious development and progress in chassis design. Not just the type of rear suspension had changed but also the materials, alloy components helped reduce un-sprung weight.
The first thing to go through my mind was, imagine how amazing the M5 is going to be when it arrives. None of us were disappointed and I still own an E39 M5 to this day.
For the last 17 years we have cared for many very loved E39 M5s. We now find ourselves carrying out quite major restoration work on many M5s as the higher value justified this type of work. What has surprised us over the last few years is how many none M5 E39s we are now seeing. They have become incredibly cult and very loved. We are now carrying out major restoration work on all models within the E39 range. We are inundated in the workshop with E39 530D and 530i Sports especially Touring’s. You guys just seem to love them and won’t let them go. People are saying to me all the time “I want her refreshed and kept on the road for at least another 10 years”. “BMW have produced nothing that I want to replace it with”. These words are becoming more and more familiar.
We have just finished a £16,000 make over including full respray of a one owner from new 530i Sport Touring, the owner told me that nothing newer interests him.
But a very serious word of warning to anybody looking to buy an E39. Yes, the very reasonable purchase price makes them very appealing, as does the blend of style and usability. BUT! Rust is becoming a very serious problem on the cars that have seen many winters of salt. The sills often need quite major fabrication work at the back and around the jacking points and this can be expensive!
Do not buy an E39 without it being checked carefully on a ramp by somebody that knows where to look for corrosion.