my starter is different
I was able to do this job from the top only without removing the intake manifold. Since I had issues buying the starter I show some pictures about BMW's re-manufactured starter.
It is also interesting that I own a 1997/10 E39 528i manual and my car doesn't look like the car on the images from ce90 who is the first commenter here.
When I bought the starter in a BMW dealership I was complaining about the model since my starter has threads and the re-manufactured one has a hole without threads. But I was told that BMW redesigned the starter and this will fit and also works with the old bolts. So I bought 2 x 10mm nuts with washers to be able to fix it. You can see on the pictures that the two starter look very different, and when I removed the starter I took a photo of the flywheel to see if the difference will cause any issues.
Generally I often take a picture of something I can not see because my view is blocked. It is easier to diagnose it on the photo.
Getting the idea from bmerbill I removed the airbox and it turned out that I can complete the job from the top.
I had some extra unnecessary work so getting the experience I recommend to do it by the following order:
Remove airbox; disconnect battery; disconnect 12V cable from starter; disconnect starter and move it out for easier access; disconnect other cables from starter; and do it again with the new starter in the opposite order.