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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-29-2012, 08:35 PM
Five30Eye Five30Eye is offline
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Talking E39 love

Greetings, name's John. Just registered and wanted to say hello.

I bought an '03 530 in May and have been loving driving ever since. It's an auto with 101k miles, but checked out and drives much nicer than the other 5 I looked at over the last year or so. Options include M sports suspension, Steptronic, Style 42 wheels, 16x9 navigation, Xenon headlights, sports seats, M-Tech rear spoiler. It's Sterlinggrau metallic with grey interior and the only exterior blemishes are some hood scratches/dings.

What I've done since purchase includes the requisite cooling system replacement, belts, oil & filter, valve cover gasket, front plate delete, re-surface headlights, NAV flash, new hood emblem, LED AE's and stealth side markers. Next projects are VANOS seals, transmission fluid & filter, a few door seals, factory Bluetooth, and audio upgrades (DSP amp, sub, replace OEM speakers)

Well, thanks for all the great DIYs and knowledge here, I just love my E39

Cheers,
John
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2012, 09:14 PM
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Welcome... And best of luck with it!
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  #3  
Old 11-29-2012, 10:41 PM
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Welcome!
looks like you've already been pretty busy!
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:43 AM
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  #5  
Old 11-30-2012, 09:09 AM
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  #6  
Old 11-30-2012, 09:40 AM
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  #7  
Old 11-30-2012, 09:40 PM
Bandem Bandem is offline
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After you're done with your list, the next mod needs to be a 6-speed manual swap.
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  #8  
Old 12-01-2012, 12:41 AM
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hh3uunp hh3uunp is offline
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Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
After you're done with your list, the next mod needs to be a 6-speed manual swap.
In a 530i

I know hypothetically its possible that the 330i 6 speed should fit. I don't think anyone as actually done it
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:40 PM
Bandem Bandem is offline
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I've seen 530i's with 6-speed swaps from the 5-speed. A 5-speed is perfectly fine though.
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  #10  
Old 12-01-2012, 02:31 PM
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hh3uunp hh3uunp is offline
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That's kind of stupid. 5 speed to 6 speed. What's the big deal ?. I don't use 5th gear ever. If it was an automatic swap to 6 speed Would make sense
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:46 AM
Five30Eye Five30Eye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
After you're done with your list, the next mod needs to be a 6-speed manual swap.
I can understand the dislike of the automatic transmission in an enthusiast sports car, if that's how we all agree an E39 should be classified. All the BMW forums I've visited seem to be pre-disposed against autos, which is fine by me. However, in my case, I'm getting old.......I've spent the last twenty years driving a stick, my left foot is TIRED. The steptronic computer can do things WAY faster and with more precision than my old decaying brain can. I'm not into chirping tires to get attention or having to feather the clutch on a hill, I'm just at a different point in my life. I don't take it to the track and I rarely exceed posted speed limits on purpose. Call me boring or old fashioned, hell, call me stupid and ignorant, don't bother me none. I am just looking for a more relaxed, connected experience on my daily commutes to and from the office, and my auto delivers that in spades! Just flicking into sport mode gives me about the same engine braking I had in my last stick, how's that saying go; "to each thier own"

Swapping out the transmission sounds like WAY more than a "mod", sounds like the car would be non-op for a month or more while all the details are ironed out, no thanks, I'll keep my old-man auto.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:58 AM
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hh3uunp hh3uunp is offline
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I have a 6 speed sometimes when I tired I wish I had an auto because I'm lazy. I disagree with your statement about steptronic being quick I find it pretty slow to respond to my commands compared to a stick. The double clutch gearbox would be nice. You get auto when you want it and manual when you want it. The gear changes are suppose to be super quick. The only problem I am aware of is that in city driving its like someone who is learning how to shift like a bucking bronco.
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  #13  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:43 AM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Five30Eye View Post
I can understand the dislike of the automatic transmission in an enthusiast sports car, if that's how we all agree an E39 should be classified. All the BMW forums I've visited seem to be pre-disposed against autos, which is fine by me. However, in my case, I'm getting old.......I've spent the last twenty years driving a stick, my left foot is TIRED. The steptronic computer can do things WAY faster and with more precision than my old decaying brain can. I'm not into chirping tires to get attention or having to feather the clutch on a hill, I'm just at a different point in my life. I don't take it to the track and I rarely exceed posted speed limits on purpose. Call me boring or old fashioned, hell, call me stupid and ignorant, don't bother me none. I am just looking for a more relaxed, connected experience on my daily commutes to and from the office, and my auto delivers that in spades! Just flicking into sport mode gives me about the same engine braking I had in my last stick, how's that saying go; "to each thier own"

Swapping out the transmission sounds like WAY more than a "mod", sounds like the car would be non-op for a month or more while all the details are ironed out, no thanks, I'll keep my old-man auto.
good choice for 2003 530i Sport Auto
i hate stick by default , too many in my life , this is for young guns trying to get more milliseconds from every run not for old folks
I drove many rent cars in my life but BMW steptronic is one of the best around and has 3 different modes
what else do you need for your daily community, totally agree with you
Enjoy your new ride
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Last edited by champaign777; 12-02-2012 at 08:53 AM.
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  #14  
Old 12-03-2012, 03:26 PM
Bandem Bandem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hh3uunp View Post
That's kind of stupid. 5 speed to 6 speed. What's the big deal ?. I don't use 5th gear ever. If it was an automatic swap to 6 speed Would make sense
Its a really big deal. 5th gear on the highway runs at too high RPM's. You aren't a highway commuter are you? And if you're in 4th at 75mph then that doesn't make sense. Especially if you have a shorter differential ratio. 6th gear is great for highway. Also, the 6-speeds like ones in the 540 or the 3 series had slightly sportier and shorter ratio's for better acceleration. And lastely, if your transmission is old and ready to fail...then why not just get the 6-speed. Oh and in addition, the M54's have major problems with consuming Oil. For a highway commuter, having a 6th gear to keep RPM's low will help reduce oil burning in the combustion chamber and prolong the life of your cat converters. I think you aren't thinking all of the possible scenarios through before stating bold opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Five30Eye View Post
I can understand the dislike of the automatic transmission in an enthusiast sports car, if that's how we all agree an E39 should be classified. All the BMW forums I've visited seem to be pre-disposed against autos, which is fine by me. However, in my case, I'm getting old.......I've spent the last twenty years driving a stick, my left foot is TIRED. The steptronic computer can do things WAY faster and with more precision than my old decaying brain can. I'm not into chirping tires to get attention or having to feather the clutch on a hill, I'm just at a different point in my life. I don't take it to the track and I rarely exceed posted speed limits on purpose. Call me boring or old fashioned, hell, call me stupid and ignorant, don't bother me none. I am just looking for a more relaxed, connected experience on my daily commutes to and from the office, and my auto delivers that in spades! Just flicking into sport mode gives me about the same engine braking I had in my last stick, how's that saying go; "to each thier own"

Swapping out the transmission sounds like WAY more than a "mod", sounds like the car would be non-op for a month or more while all the details are ironed out, no thanks, I'll keep my old-man auto.
You are lookg into buying a 530i with a sports suspension, sport wheels, sport seats, M-Tech spoiler and you're looking to replace your VANOS. To anybody who reads the OP, it seems like you're looking for performance so its only natural for my response to be putting a manual into it.

I reacted to your OP as such. If you stated you wanted a comfortable 530i with 16'' rims, soft suspension...etc. Then I wouldn't say a word about manual, because it shows you aren't interested in performance or connection.

Also, don't compare me to most "BMW" enthusiasts. I have nothing against manual or auto's. I think they are meant to be suited to one's own needs. Just, because I recommended it in your situation does not mean I generally support manuals. If you look at some post history you will see me being a staunch defender of the Automatic when people start insulting itself or the people driving it.
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  #15  
Old 12-03-2012, 05:56 PM
Five30Eye Five30Eye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
good choice for 2003 530i Sport Auto
Thanks! This was my buying decision flow: Start with E39. Had to be 2003. Had to be saloon. Had to be six cylinder (I have a thing for inline six's). Had to be 530. Had to have style 42's. Preferred auto, but would take stick if it had everything else. Had to be either Grey, White, Blue or Silver. After driving a few, narrowed interior down to Grey, from Grey or Tan. Preferred Xenon headlights. Preferred M-sport steering wheel. Turns out the preference for Style 42's & M-sport wheel really meant "sport package", but the 5 wheels were the driving force. (excuse the pun)

Quote:
Originally Posted by champaign777 View Post
I drove many rent cars in my life but BMW steptronic is one of the best around and has 3 different modes
I thought it had like 7 modes within the ATC programming? Hill mode, cruise control mode, stop and go traffic mode, etc. To me, that's way more advanced than what I can do with my left foot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
You are lookg into buying a 530i with a sports suspension, sport wheels, sport seats, M-Tech spoiler and you're looking to replace your VANOS. To anybody who reads the OP, it seems like you're looking for performance so its only natural for my response to be putting a manual into it.
I was merely introducing myself, the car is already in my garage, I've had it since May of this year. VANOS was just typical maintenence @ 100k miles on ANY car so equipped I thought, is that not accurate? It can help performance sure, but my bigger concern is fuel economy and having a healthy engine. I'm going to start a new thread so we can intelligently discuss the manual versus auto topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
Also, don't compare me to most "BMW" enthusiasts. I have nothing against manual or auto's. I think they are meant to be suited to one's own needs. Just, because I recommended it in your situation does not mean I generally support manuals. If you look at some post history you will see me being a staunch defender of the Automatic when people start insulting itself or the people driving it.
I'm sorry if I offended you, I appreciate your input, regardless if we agree or not.

-John
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  #16  
Old 12-04-2012, 01:28 PM
Bandem Bandem is offline
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Quote:
I'm sorry if I offended you, I appreciate your input, regardless if we agree or not.

-John
Thats fine haha. Just know that I'll never attack or condescend on anybody who chooses a certain type of car or transmission rather then another. Everybody has a different situation and needs. Just didn't want you thinking of me in a way that I'm not.

-Unless you have any symptoms of VANOS failure, I see no reason to change it unless you want better performance. I know a person with like (150,000? miles) on their M54 and it drives fine with no symptoms. If you cared about fuel economy, you should've at least bought a 1 or 3 series or a 525i not to mention not even buying a BMW period. If the car starts fine and shows no idle roughs or complete lack of power at lower RPM's or any major fuel economy deficits then I cannot see a reason to fix VANOS.

The price you pay to fix the VANOS will never be returned on the price you save on the "Increased" fuel economy unless you keep the car for a LONG time or you rack up ridiculous mileage. On top of that, it will not add any significant value to the car. Used E39's are worth less then the dirt on the bottom of my shoe for the outstanding quality that they are, but they cost more to maintain then some people's houses. Just trust me, fuel economy is the LEAST of your expense concerns with a 100k+ miles, because many things can start to fail. If you commute a great deal on the other hand, then a Japanese hybrid maybe for you. A Volkswagen Golf is also a great "Drivers" car and also economical. Honestly...anything other then a ridiculously overweight ancient E39 well out of its stock spec due to age.

If "performance" isn't your concern, flush that transmission fluid and make sure your fundamental suspension components (because you suspension is nowhere close to what it was when it was new unless it was overhauled) for safety are operating properly and keep up with regular maintenance and it will get you from A to B.

I am really getting mixed signals or perhaps I am confused something, but based on what you've said it seems to me you bought the wrong car for your expectations/needs.

Last edited by Bandem; 12-04-2012 at 01:32 PM.
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  #17  
Old 12-04-2012, 02:14 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Five30Eye View Post
I can understand the dislike of the automatic transmission in an enthusiast sports car, if that's how we all agree an E39 should be classified. All the BMW forums I've visited seem to be pre-disposed against autos, which is fine by me. However, in my case, I'm getting old.......I've spent the last twenty years driving a stick, my left foot is TIRED. The steptronic computer can do things WAY faster and with more precision than my old decaying brain can. I'm not into chirping tires to get attention or having to feather the clutch on a hill, I'm just at a different point in my life. I don't take it to the track and I rarely exceed posted speed limits on purpose. Call me boring or old fashioned, hell, call me stupid and ignorant, don't bother me none. I am just looking for a more relaxed, connected experience on my daily commutes to and from the office, and my auto delivers that in spades! Just flicking into sport mode gives me about the same engine braking I had in my last stick, how's that saying go; "to each thier own"

Swapping out the transmission sounds like WAY more than a "mod", sounds like the car would be non-op for a month or more while all the details are ironed out, no thanks, I'll keep my old-man auto.
Words of wise
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  #18  
Old 12-04-2012, 03:09 PM
Five30Eye Five30Eye is offline
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Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
-Unless you have any symptoms of VANOS failure, I see no reason to change it unless you want better performance. I know a person with like (150,000? miles) on their M54 and it drives fine with no symptoms.
No major symptoms, no. It does have a slightly rough idle for the first minute or so on warm up, but I expect it's ICV/CCV and or DISA related, going to closely inspect the CCV system next time I'm under the hood. Already subscribed to bluebee's excellent collection thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
The price you pay to fix the VANOS will never be returned on the price you save on the "Increased" fuel economy unless you keep the car for a LONG time or you rack up ridiculous mileage.
I would do the work myself, so the only cost would be the $80 or so for the kit, plus gaskets and oil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandem View Post
I am really getting mixed signals or perhaps I am confused something, but based on what you've said it seems to me you bought the wrong car for your expectations/needs.
I'm sorry, I'm not communicating very well. I often make the mistake that what seems well understood by me, should also be understood by the reader, and it makes for poor communication on my part. When I mentioned fuel economy, in relation to VANOS, it wasn't that I magically expected if I fix the VANOS my car would suddenly get 40MPG. More that it would maximize the potential miles per gallon. That's one of the main reasons why I didn't get a V8, 235hp is way more than I need on US roads, why have to cringe when gas goes over $4 a gallon. Anything over 20MPG was fine by me, my commute is only 30 miles a day, both ways. If fuel economy was my #1 concern, I likely would've gone with a Mazda 5 or another normally aspirated 35-40 MPG car, not hybrid. Don't get me started on hybrids!

Why E39 you ask?? Well, as I mentioned in my intro, my best friend had one. He is VERY particular about his cars, and I respect his opinion. If it was good enough for him, perhaps I should consider one. I had the chance to take an '02 335i for a weekend getaway several years ago and I was VERY impressed. My budget dictated that I buy a used car, 10-13k was my number. I have always liked BMW for their racing heritage and focus on performance and quality over flashy trends. Only until recently does the //M badge connote forced induction, which earns respect from me. I'm getting old now, I don't want to hand crank my windows down or be without AC on the two days a year I need it, I want some luxury when I'm driving, and I think I've earned it. I live in a highly affluent community and I see Merc's all day every day, lotsa bimmers as well. I also get a chance to see some amazing cars during the Concours D' Elegance and historic races at Laguna. For some reason the E39 body style kept percolating to the top of my list whenever I thought of cars I'd like to own. It's the rear quarters, when viewed from the rear, just looks great, IMHO. I think cars should not always be form follows function, but should have some passion and emotion in the design, which the E39 always had for me. The E90 is the only other car I would have considered from the Bavarian stable, but the 5 just kept "singing" to me, if you know what I mean. Once I was committed, it became an obsession, I NEEDED an E39. I outlined my initial purchase flow above and was fortunate enough to find my car on the fifth try. As I mentioned, I LOVE driving it and my biggest initial impression was not something I had anticipated; It's so QUIET inside. I was whispering with my daughter as we drove home from purchase, that's not something I could do in a commuter-can.

Sorry to be so long-winded, I hope that by going into more detail here, it will help to understand me a little bit better and enhance my ability to communicate with my fellow forumites.

Cheers,
John
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  #19  
Old 12-05-2012, 01:32 PM
Bandem Bandem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Five30Eye View Post
No major symptoms, no. It does have a slightly rough idle for the first minute or so on warm up, but I expect it's ICV/CCV and or DISA related, going to closely inspect the CCV system next time I'm under the hood. Already subscribed to bluebee's excellent collection thread.
Yeah, if you have a rough idle then perhaps thats the beginning of symptoms that will eventually get worse. If its $80 bucks then I'd say its worth it. You still won't recoup the costs anytime soon, but for $80 having smooth operation and maybe a good performance RE-gain would be nice.

Quote:
I'm sorry, I'm not communicating very well. I often make the mistake that what seems well understood by me, should also be understood by the reader, and it makes for poor communication on my part. When I mentioned fuel economy, in relation to VANOS, it wasn't that I magically expected if I fix the VANOS my car would suddenly get 40MPG. More that it would maximize the potential miles per gallon. That's one of the main reasons why I didn't get a V8, 235hp is way more than I need on US roads, why have to cringe when gas goes over $4 a gallon. Anything over 20MPG was fine by me, my commute is only 30 miles a day, both ways. If fuel economy was my #1 concern, I likely would've gone with a Mazda 5 or another normally aspirated 35-40 MPG car, not hybrid. Don't get me started on hybrids!
I agree, the V8's are no doubt more gas hungry. A lot also depends on how you drive. I bet if you drove a 530i really hard and then had a 540 or M5 that you drove very gently, the mileage would be higher on the 530i. And if you think 225hp is enough for the roads (and its probably even lower compared to stock spec due to age) then I'm honestly jealous. For road driving in the city, I wouldn't mind having a 400hp MINIMUM for safe passing, merging...etc. I'd prefer 500-600Hp as a daily driver. Its simply much safer and convenient for the road (not even talking about the fun factor, but strictly commuting). You can merge quicker, pass quicker and most important get out of the way when you need to.

Quote:
Why E39 you ask?? Well, as I mentioned in my intro, my best friend had one. He is VERY particular about his cars, and I respect his opinion. If it was good enough for him, perhaps I should consider one. I had the chance to take an '02 335i for a weekend getaway several years ago and I was VERY impressed. My budget dictated that I buy a used car, 10-13k was my number. I have always liked BMW for their racing heritage and focus on performance and quality over flashy trends. Only until recently does the //M badge connote forced induction, which earns respect from me. I'm getting old now, I don't want to hand crank my windows down or be without AC on the two days a year I need it, I want some luxury when I'm driving, and I think I've earned it. I live in a highly affluent community and I see Merc's all day every day, lotsa bimmers as well. I also get a chance to see some amazing cars during the Concours D' Elegance and historic races at Laguna. For some reason the E39 body style kept percolating to the top of my list whenever I thought of cars I'd like to own. It's the rear quarters, when viewed from the rear, just looks great, IMHO. I think cars should not always be form follows function, but should have some passion and emotion in the design, which the E39 always had for me. The E90 is the only other car I would have considered from the Bavarian stable, but the 5 just kept "singing" to me, if you know what I mean. Once I was committed, it became an obsession, I NEEDED an E39. I outlined my initial purchase flow above and was fortunate enough to find my car on the fifth try. As I mentioned, I LOVE driving it and my biggest initial impression was not something I had anticipated; It's so QUIET inside. I was whispering with my daughter as we drove home from purchase, that's not something I could do in a commuter-can.

Sorry to be so long-winded, I hope that by going into more detail here, it will help to understand me a little bit better and enhance my ability to communicate with my fellow forumites.

Cheers,
John
Oh yeah, I also like E39's. Honestly, if I were VERY rich, I would ask BMW for a custom BMW using an E39 chassis made of carbon fiber, but with a top notch suspension and one of their newer top notch engines like the S85 (I prefer NA engines) paired with a manual dual-clutch transmission and a revamped interior to look modern. It would probably cost hundreds of thousands or maybe millions for it, but that would be my daily driver. I really do like E39.

Main point is that I completely understand your story and agree!
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