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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 12-30-2012, 12:11 PM
Shin1ichi Shin1ichi is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 MB E320
530 or 540?...from a E-class...

Hello everyone. Great forum, i joined recently after reading for a while.
My story; have a 2000 E320.......absolutely boring to drive, after a 2000 323, which i remember fondly. Started looking at CPO 2010 528's, but then it dawned on me, i really always loved the E39's.... and 2010's in great condition will be around for another couple of years. So.......I am thinking to get rid of the Benz, and get an E39. And they are getting harder to find.........

Thinking 2002-03 530 or 540. I plan to put off the 2010 for another year or so, but if i find an E39 to keep it as a weekend car even after getting a newer "go to dinner car'.

My question is vague-ish but still. Go for a 530 (?easier to work on straight six?), lighter front end, (more durable?) and slightly better handling (my goal) or go for a 540 and enjoy the V8. Is the 540 much more mainenance intensive than the 6 cylinder? I've watched one of the vanos videos and think i can pull that off. And for either, i've missed a stick for a long time,.......but,....how durable is that steptronic vs a stick?

Thanks for all the input to this and for all the guys (and gals) who've contributed to these forums.

Best,
Johnny
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2012, 12:31 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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go for the better condition ...
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  #3  
Old 12-30-2012, 01:21 PM
Silverlight95 Silverlight95 is offline
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In my honest opinion, I say go for the 540 under the right conditions (well maintained, reasonable mileage, etc.) Yes, they do require a good amount of maintenance, but lots of it will be the initial maintenance when you buy the car. If you are a DIYer, it won't cost much more to maintain the 540. And plus, if you enjoy working on your own car, then you will enjoy it even more. Nothing feels better than repairing your own car and enjoying while doing so. But what can i say, this is coming from somebody whose engine is half apart
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  #4  
Old 12-30-2012, 01:28 PM
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ill540i ill540i is offline
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540! No questions asked,more power and there actually more relaible

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  #5  
Old 12-30-2012, 02:37 PM
Shin1ichi Shin1ichi is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 MB E320
thanks for the replies so far. i guess the biggest debate is in my head. i do wrench a little, and find it enjoyable. I've always thought the e39's were the best 5 series made. I wish i could buy a new 2012 e39!

i guess i'll see what is available in my area and read more info here......

thanks,
johnny
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  #6  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:07 PM
Silverlight95 Silverlight95 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shin1ichi View Post
thanks for the replies so far. i guess the biggest debate is in my head. i do wrench a little, and find it enjoyable. I've always thought the e39's were the best 5 series made. I wish i could buy a new 2012 e39!

i guess i'll see what is available in my area and read more info here......

thanks,
johnny
Good luck with whatever choice you make. You won't go wrong with either of them
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  #7  
Old 12-30-2012, 03:37 PM
edwin28 edwin28 is offline
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Mein Auto: 5401 Sport
Depends on what condition... but i would go 540i....
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2012, 04:09 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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Mein Auto: 540/6, S60 Volvo, Tribeca
540, they are actually easier to work on than the I6, no matter what the I6 guys say. I've worked on both plenty of times, 540 is easier.
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  #9  
Old 12-30-2012, 07:09 PM
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golferjohnm golferjohnm is offline
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Mein Auto: '01 540i 6sp '01 X5 4.4
540 w/6 speed...but what else would you expect
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  #10  
Old 12-31-2012, 06:05 AM
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manticore33 manticore33 is offline
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Are you trying to switch from automatic to manual? If you are staying automatic, stay with your E-class (unless it has the corrosion issues) or go to an e430 or an AMG variant. The seats in the e39 are terrible compared to MB (hell, they are terrible compared to my Porsche!)

This review, http://www.kenrockwell.com/mercedes/e430/index.htm, definitely made me consider MB and references the e39 540i M-Sport (which the e430 replaced).
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  #11  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:30 PM
Shin1ichi Shin1ichi is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 MB E320
Really thinking to go manual tranny, if i can find a decent one.
I've driven a few 525/530's (2002-2003) in the last couple of days, all @ 100K miles. All i could find so far are the steptronic, BUT, even in this combination, these cars drive so much more of what i want my car to drive like than my MB. MB has a sleeper motor, with good pull if you floor it, but tip in, initial response, is not as quick as the BMW and the steering and feedback of the MB cannot compare to the BMW..... and this is a prime fator in my looking, that and the styling is so much better.

The straight six with the steptronic is a willing partnership in comparison to my Benz. I hope to find a stick to drive soon as another comparison. Since i am looking at this as a drive almost daily for a year then retiring it to weekend/spirited driving duty, i want one i will be happy with for a long while. The body style and driving dynamics are there, just finding the right one, in the right condition.

One thing i have noticed; while looking at teh newer CPO cars, the tan interiors are really nice (with the black dash top area), but for teh E39, i prefer the black interiors....seem to hold their age better.

So, i'm looking.......and between my busy travel schedule that starts in mid Jan......I hope some options come up ......

Thanks to all (and I mean the entire forum).......it's great reading through here.

Any more comments, feel free to keep'em coming!

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  #12  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:55 PM
aspensilver540 aspensilver540 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 540i
I don't see how you can find the E320 boring and then get a 6 cyl BMW. Get the V8, you'll be glad you did. The Tan interior is hideous in the E39 because they decided not to give it a black dash and black door panel tops. Some members modded their interior to make those areas tan and it looks 10X better. I have the same motor as E320 in CLK320, it is fun but nothing like the 540I. A 6cyl will be boring to you, even though a 530I will drive much better.

BTW, those kenrockwell articles are questionable. Apparently Ken thinks an automatic E430 is as fast as a 540I/6, which it is not. The E430 has surprisingly bad track times. He also calls "E320s castrated E430s with fewer features" except you can order an E320 with same options as E430 wtf. Then his picture shows that his E430 doesn't even have seat heaters, so WTF is he talking about??? Lol.
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  #13  
Old 01-01-2013, 07:54 PM
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E36 Phantom E36 Phantom is offline
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You really need to drive them both for a good long test drive, despite being the same chassis they feel very different.

The 530 has plenty of power but isn't super fast. The lighter front end and rack and pinion steering however make it feel very light and tossable.

The 540 feels neither light not tossable. The extra weight combined with the recirc ball steering are certainly numbing in the steering department, but flooring it coming out of a corner in 2nd gear with dsc off will make you giggle like a school girl and forget about any handling complaints you had.

The Steptronic in the 530 is utter crap. It's a good transmission when it works but has a bad design flaw that guarantees you a torque converter replacement. The 540 Step is much more durable. The manuals are better transmissions by far than either, and the tall 6th gear OD on the 540 manual is great for cruising MPGs.

I've owned 540i/6s, 540iAs, and 530iAs (all sport models). For a fun daily commute car, the 530 is probably the better choice. For a weekend toy or fun car, the 540 for sure.

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  #14  
Old 01-01-2013, 08:38 PM
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Dking078 Dking078 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 BMW 540i
The 530i is a nice commuter car. The 540i is just a blast to drive, the ride is butter smooth and takes turns like a beast in the hills. The automatic trans.. well it can be nice and it can be bad, mine went south and cost a pretty penny to fix, but with that I got DINAN trans. software and I like a bit more now.

The only thing I find lacking in the 540iA, is the lack of paddle shifters. I'm waiting for an M3 SMG steering wheel to come up. Once it does, it will be an amazing retrofit.
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[Msport] [DSP] [AUX] [ICE V6] [BSWs] [DINAN Trans & Strut Bar] [M Audio Subs] [E38 lighted int. door handles] [E46 Paddleshifters] [Cubic Trim] [EURO Dash] [KONI's] [Two-tone Interior]

For Sale:
1 Set of Piano Black E39 Trim $155 [Click]
--Note: (I can wrap Set #3 in gloss or brushed finishes)
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2013, 02:11 AM
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fullthrottle540 fullthrottle540 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E36 Phantom View Post
The 540 feels neither light not tossable. The extra weight combined with the recirc ball steering are certainly numbing in the steering department, but flooring it coming out of a corner in 2nd gear with dsc off will make you giggle like a school girl and forget about any handling complaints you had.
great description, agree 100%
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2013, 03:21 AM
bdavid13 bdavid13 is offline
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You'll probably the right conditioned 530, but you're always going to wish you had waited and bought a 540! Ask me how I know! Good luck with your search.
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:36 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 528 MT
try and find a MT 530 or 528, Blast to drive , however a 6sp MT 540 would be much more fun,but more to fix as years go on.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:46 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Go through thousands of posts, you will see many people wishing they bought 540 instead of 528 or 530, but no one says they wish they would have bought 525/528/530 instead of 540!

If you do go 525/28/30, manual is required to use the power most efficiently.

dave
03 540i6
00 528iA (retired)
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:58 AM
Ed Cheung Ed Cheung is offline
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The 540 sure is heavier, but not as bad as it sound, the steering feel is the biggest different. But the weight, you will get use to it in 15 minutes. I bought a set of AP coilover and used it on a 528 for 2-3 weeks, then found a nice 540. Took the coilover out and sold the 528. Now the coilover is on the 540 for a month now, the difference is marginal, used the same spring, didn't even bother to get the stiffer spring that is made for the V8.
Plus the gas milage, I am not gaining much on the 528, as I need to squeeze out the power from the 2.8L engine more often.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2013, 10:17 AM
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fullthrottle540 fullthrottle540 is offline
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in a 500 mile road trip, i averaged 27 mpg in my 540. It's no Honda, but still better than my 15mpg truck!
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  #21  
Old 01-02-2013, 10:25 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540nj View Post
Go through thousands of posts, you will see many people wishing they bought 540 instead of 528 or 530, but no one says they wish they would have bought 525/528/530 instead of 540!

If you do go 525/28/30, manual is required to use the power most efficiently.

dave
03 540i6
00 528iA (retired)

I've owned my 528 for 15 yrs now, and not ONCE did I wish I had bought a 540 instead.
What I do wish for every now and then is that I should have bought mine w/o a moonroof. An extra 1" of headspace, lack of windnoise, and no more broken roof rails is a far better deal.
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  #22  
Old 01-02-2013, 10:53 AM
540nj 540nj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHoang View Post

I've owned my 528 for 15 yrs now, and not ONCE did I wish I had bought a 540 instead.
What I do wish for every now and then is that I should have bought mine w/o a moonroof. An extra 1" of headspace, lack of windnoise, and no more broken roof rails is a far better deal.
many != All

Enjoy your ride!

dave
03 540i6
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  #23  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:16 PM
blingin96 blingin96 is offline
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+1 540i /6 tons o fun. Nothing like a V8 6speed!!

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  #24  
Old 01-02-2013, 06:46 PM
Shin1ichi Shin1ichi is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 MB E320
thanks for all the chiming in.....

i need to drive more of them, that's for sure. stick shift 530's and even stick 540's, if i can find any around here..........
?...for 2003's, were both 530 and 540 5 speed sticks?

i know i would be 'hoping' not to need a new steptranny any time soon, but i've never dropped a tranny for a clutch either,...outside my current realm of skills.....

handling, i guess that is what i am chasing more, in that body/chassis, than pure power.......(i have caught myself eyeing the Mustang Gt witht the Coyote 5.0........) but snap myself out of it.

one day,.......aways off from now, i dream to build a cobra kit with a 427..........

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  #25  
Old 01-02-2013, 09:09 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 530 Sport Twins
ya
dont take 530i
piece of sh** ... not like 540i ...
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