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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 12-11-2014, 05:53 PM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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Opinons: Keep my sedan or trade for wagon

The local independent here in Matthews, NC (near Charlotte) has created an interesting car and since I've been toying with the idea of a wagon, it might be time to pull the trigger. He had a customer with a 528i touring that lost the automatic tranny. He swapped it over to a five speed, did the programming and made all the instruments work just like factory. My 528i has about the same mileage and is in great shape but it's silver with black interior and cubic trim. The wagon is black with gray interior and wood trim. Both are sport models with sport suspension, blacked out exterior trim and his has style 5 rims, mine has style 42. I love my 5 speed car and enjoy the e39 overall so here is the question.

For those of you that have had sedans and touring, which did you like better? I'm intrigued by the idea of a 5 speed wagon in black, it could look downright evil with dark tint. Is the wagon driving experience different from the sedan? Is one more fun than the other?

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  #2  
Old 12-11-2014, 06:13 PM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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The wagon driving experience is not significantly different in my experience. I regret letting some 528i 5 speed wagons get away from me in years past because they are so hard to find now. Ask him if the rear subframe bushings have been replaced because they fail on just about all E39 wagons by the time 100K miles rolls around. It is a difficult job if you don't have proper tools and a lift. When they have failed, the ride in the back is usually harsh and jarring over bumps and potholes. The subframe ties together the rear suspension, the rear differential, and the wagon's unibody frame structure.

I like my 03 530i Sport 5sp sedan but still wish I had a touring with Sport package and 5 speed. I make do by owning a 95 525i Touring with 5 spd conversion instead.

The other positive about tourings is that they have become cult cars and a well maintained one will hold its value in years to come compared to sedans.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:23 PM
MuscleWagon MuscleWagon is online now
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Who is your indy Dog? I'm in Raleigh and when the AT fails I'd just assume pay for a 3rd pedal as replace the AT. Would like to start compiling a list of those in the region who have pulled this off. TIA

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Old 12-11-2014, 06:37 PM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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Indy near Charlotte

Touring car in Stallings, NC. They work on any German car and the occasional Mini. Always a pretty eclectic mix of stuff in there from old Porsches to new BMW's to vintage Benz stuff. Lots of them are for sale and if you're in the area we get together every Wednesday evening for "car night" to drink beer, swap stories and eat food like proper carnivores, i.e. pork and beef. We also work on the occasional car as in one or two guys working on their car and the rest standing around and giving opinions. In short, it's a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

If you're interested in the conversion they have the full Auto Logic programmer to make everything work properly and do quality work. Good work isn't cheap and cheap work isn't good, so you'll get what you pay for.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:52 PM
MuscleWagon MuscleWagon is online now
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Good to know, thx. I haven't driven a sedan but the tourings are really fun. Dream of driving mine with a MT. Subframe bushing job wasn't that bad with the help of the DIYs here and the one included with the bushing removal tool kit I rented from a forum member. You'll know when it's time to replace them. Keep us posted on your decision.

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Old 12-11-2014, 08:18 PM
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I still don't quite get the appeal of the tourings.. I get the practicality but that doesn't sound very fun.. Its got to weigh more right? Then your power to weight is off in the 2.8 and the handling can't be all that great?
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Old 12-11-2014, 08:21 PM
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I'm gonna add though, I get the touring completly if you have 3 kids and a dog. You could go camping with it and all,
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnbigdog View Post
...........For those of you that have had sedans and touring, which did you like better? I'm intrigued by the idea of a 5 speed wagon in black, it could look downright evil with dark tint. Is the wagon driving experience different from the sedan? Is one more fun than the other?

Big Dog
I just sold my wagon yesterday. 7 years and 110k miles. I enjoyed every mile! It did not matter if it was a seven hour freeway trip, or a three hour country drive thru the twisties. I always had a smile on my face.

I have three different transmissions in three cars. 5 speed manual in the 528iT, 4 speed automatic in the 528i and 5 speed Steptronic in the 530i The cars are very similar, but the driving experience is different in my opinion because of the transmission. I have always preferred a manual over automatic. I prefer to determine where and when to shift. The 530i is my wife's car. When I drive it, I prefer to leave it in the sport mode. The 528i has now become my dd. I bought if for my mother, which is why I chose an automatic. She no longer drives, so I have it back. It is ok, but nowhere near as much interaction and feel for the car. It's a great car and the smile factor is still there, just not as fun for me. If you get the manual wagon, I do not think you will regret the decision.

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Originally Posted by mda185 View Post
...........Ask him if the rear subframe bushings have been replaced because they fail on just about all E39 wagons by the time 100K miles rolls around. It is a difficult job if you don't have proper tools and a lift. When they have failed, the ride in the back is usually harsh and jarring over bumps and potholes. The subframe ties together the rear suspension, the rear differential, and the wagon's unibody frame structure.........
I would tend to agree, but with the extractor tool and a lift, it was one of the easiest DIY's I'd performed. I did all four in about 2 hours with the aid of a friend who has a lift in his shop. There are a few wagon owners on fourms who have the tool and rent it. Well worth the money. This was the last item I'd installed on the complete front and rear suspension replacement. It was a complete different feeling. Tighter than the day I bought the car. I also had new Toyo Proxes T1R's at all four corners.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
I still don't quite get the appeal of the tourings.. I get the practicality but that doesn't sound very fun.. Its got to weigh more right? Then your power to weight is off in the 2.8 and the handling can't be all that great?
If you had one w/ a manual, you would understand. The appeal for me was two fold. More practical than an SUV, and much more fun to drive, with a center of gravity measured in inches vs. feet. Throw in three pedals and there was no question. With the sport suspension and summer tires, the handling is very good and only slightly less that that of the 528i sedan.

Last but not least, is the uniqueness of the car. There are many E39 still on the road. Only a few are wagons. Even fewer are factory 5 speeds. If BMW had offered the US market a 5 or 6 speed manual 540iT, I'd have bought it.

My favorite grocery store soon became a 1 1/2 hour drive away.......

As for the specs:
528 Touring
3726 lbs
Weight distribution - F/R 47.6/52.4
0-60 mph - 7.9 (manual)

528i Sedan
3495 lbs
Weight distribution - F/R 50.5/49.5
0-60 mph - 7.0 (manual)
These are BMW figures published in the factory brochure. I have not driven a manual sedan, but I would most likely have to think that a manual sedan would be somewhat more involving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
I'm gonna add though, I get the touring completely if you have 3 kids and a dog. You could go camping with it and all,
Unladen the 528iT is a very fun car to push to the limits and enjoy the ride. Ample cargo volume. This is where the touring shines. 32.7 cubic feet vs 11.1 in the sedans. With the rear seat folded down, it increases to 65.2 cubic feet. This is more than most SUV's traveling on our roads today.
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  #9  
Old 12-12-2014, 07:39 AM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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IndiansFan, I could not have put it better. I feel same way about my E34 Touring even though it is not as refined as the E39. Mine has been in the family for 12 years and has been an amazing combination of sporty driving and utility while getting much better fuel economy than any compact SUV. I did convert mine to 5 spd and it did alter the character of the touring making it much more involving and fun to drive.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:43 AM
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I just sold my wagon yesterday
What?!?!?!
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by JDeGraff89 View Post
I still don't quite get the appeal of the tourings
It's a touring thing...you wouldn't understand

Hard to explain but I've had a fascination with wagons for many years and the E39 is probably the best looking one out there IMHO. Throw 292HP in there and I'm in heaven. I still can't believe I get to drive one of my favorite cars on Earth every single day. Doesn't seem fair since I paid so little (relatively speaking) for it.
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:51 AM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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One thing none of us wagon fans have mentioned is that the general public does not expect a wagon to be a high performance car. It means we fly under the radar much of the time and don't attract negative attention that coupes and sedans do when they are lowered and have dark tinted windows. I get followed by law enforcement a lot more in my E39 530i Sport than I do in my touring. I am not talking about being followed because I did something stupid. I am a middle aged father of 2 and drive pretty conservatively most of the time. I am talking about small town cops following me because they expect a higher probability of me doing something wrong based on what the car looks like. Wagons have a 'sleeper' appeal that coupes and sport sedans will never have. That is why my dream car is an E39 Touring with an LSx swap. If I ever escape from NJ and move to a state where a swap like that can easily pass inspection, it will be high on my bucket list.
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:11 AM
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Alright all valid points from the touring crowd, but its impossible to look like a mobster while driving a touring.... Lol I do think they E39 pulled off the wagon look quite well, but I've always been a Sedan guy, that's any car. It needs 4 doors and a trunk. I don't do Coupés or Wagons, I did once have a Ute which was interesting.. But yeah.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:01 AM
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Hi,

JDegraff, As mentioned above, you've got to be 'into' the whole 'Touring/wagon/Estate' car thing to understand it more! it goes more than just kids and a dog and mda185 above mentions other aspects well! They don't weigh that much more than the equivalent sedan/saloon, there's a difference but it's not much. I personally don't really want to look like a 'mobster' when driving around either! but I know what you are getting at in terms of being 'young' and looking like you have a 'mean' appearance car! I much prefer the classy and subtly different yet aggressive look!

dnbigdog - Us Touring owners are of course biased, so I say to you to evaluate for yourself. If you do carry more stuff around often and never know when you might need more load space etc then do consider the Touring. If you don't really need the space then evaluate for the best E39 saloon or Touring that you want/find. 90% of the time my load space is empty, but then quite often a requirement comes up where it proves to be an absolute boon to have the extra space. This is me delivering an E39 M5 interior to a customer;



Cheers, Dennis!
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:17 PM
AV8R4AA AV8R4AA is offline
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I love my wagon. My fiancé drives it all over creation also. It's sporty, looks cool, enough power
for me, 30 MPG long flat highway, carries 5 and the dog, it's a BMW.

what's not to love about the touring.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DennisCooper! View Post
Hi,

JDegraff, As mentioned above, you've got to be 'into' the whole 'Touring/wagon/Estate' car thing to understand it more! it goes more than just kids and a dog and mda185 above mentions other aspects well! They don't weigh that much more than the equivalent sedan/saloon, there's a difference but it's not much. I personally don't really want to look like a 'mobster' when driving around either! but I know what you are getting at in terms of being 'young' and looking like you have a 'mean' appearance car! I much prefer the classy and subtly different yet aggressive look!

dnbigdog - Us Touring owners are of course biased, so I say to you to evaluate for yourself. If you do carry more stuff around often and never know when you might need more load space etc then do consider the Touring. If you don't really need the space then evaluate for the best E39 saloon or Touring that you want/find. 90% of the time my load space is empty, but then quite often a requirement comes up where it proves to be an absolute boon to have the extra space. This is me delivering an E39 M5 interior to a customer;



Cheers, Dennis!
Haha, the Al Capone appeal of a big black sedan.. I think my next BMW purchase will be a 2010 BMW 760Li M Sport [F02] the twin turbo V12 one.. Then I can kick even a E39 540i ass!! Lol I'm sure they'll be affordable to me in 5 or so more years.
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:16 PM
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Edgy36-39 Edgy36-39 is offline
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I get followed by law enforcement a lot more in my E39 530i Sport than I do in my touring. I am not talking about being followed because I did something stupid. I am a middle aged father of 2 and drive pretty conservatively most of the time. I am talking about small town cops following me because they expect a higher probability of me doing something wrong based on what the car looks like.
What?! That must be a pretty sleepy town if the cops are trailing middle aged guys driving BMWs three body styles old! What would they do if a new M3/4 - or heaven forbid an i8 driven by a kid - rolled into town? Arrest the driver for parking?
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Old 12-13-2014, 10:05 AM
mda185 mda185 is online now
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What?! That must be a pretty sleepy town if the cops are trailing middle aged guys driving BMWs three body styles old! What would they do if a new M3/4 - or heaven forbid an i8 driven by a kid - rolled into town? Arrest the driver for parking?
Most of the towns around here are sleepy little towns with cops that have state of the art radar and a need to fill the local govt coffers with revenue from tickets. When I bought my 525iT 12 years ago, I did a fly and drive out to Indianapolis to get it. A day after I got back, my wife was pulled over by one of these yahoos for not having a NJ inspection sticker. This was in the days when a new license plate would have a T sticker on it until you got your registration in the mail. On a temp tag, you had 30 days to get a car inspected if purchased out of state but they pulled her over the first day it showed up in town. They look for any reason to write a ticket. If your car is lowered and/or has dark tint, they are even more aggressive with their vigilance and it has nothing to do with crime prevention. My 530i Sport has the factory tint, is black, and is lowered slightly with H&R Sport springs. Even though I live here and they see me all the time, I get followed regularly. The speed limit is 45 mph on all approaches to Main St. but it drops suddenly to 25 mph and they look to nail drivers who don't notice it.

Having said all that, here is the really funny part. There is a small neighborhood in town where the residents are low income and according to my teenager, several drug dealers live there. These kids drive around in newer luxury cars and the cops leave them alone. What do you suppose is going on there and why if all the young kids know they are drug dealers, don't the cops aggressively follow these kids and look for reasons to pull them over???? Rant over and sorry to OP for getting so far off topic.
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:33 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is online now
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Originally Posted by dnbigdog View Post
Touring car in Stallings, NC. They work on any German car and the occasional Mini. Always a pretty eclectic mix of stuff in there from old Porsches to new BMW's to vintage Benz stuff. Lots of them are for sale and if you're in the area we get together every Wednesday evening for "car night" to drink beer, swap stories and eat food like proper carnivores, i.e. pork and beef. We also work on the occasional car as in one or two guys working on their car and the rest standing around and giving opinions. In short, it's a great way to spend a Wednesday night.

If you're interested in the conversion they have the full Auto Logic programmer to make everything work properly and do quality work. Good work isn't cheap and cheap work isn't good, so you'll get what you pay for.
Thanks for that. I'm over in Mint Hill and have been looking for a decent Indy. Do you know how their rates are? Running out of time to do things myself on my 99 and need a cost effective alternative.
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Old 12-13-2014, 04:45 PM
dnbigdog dnbigdog is offline
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They are about 2/3 the cost of the dealer and are reasonable if something unexpected comes up. That being said, their estimates are pretty much on target and if they give you a price, it's gonna be that price. Call Dan Middleton (owner) and tell him Big Dog sent you. Just Google them on the interweb for all the contact info.
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Old 12-13-2014, 04:58 PM
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bmdubya1198 bmdubya1198 is offline
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Originally Posted by AV8R4AA View Post
I love my wagon. My fiancé drives it all over creation also. It's sporty, looks cool, enough power
for me, 30 MPG long flat highway, carries 5 and the dog, it's a BMW.

what's not to love about the touring.
How do you get 30 MPG? Mine averages around 24.

As far as shops, I've heard about Touring Car. I use Brothers Auto Service in Indian Trail. There are lots of shops around here I'm just now discovering.
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Old 12-13-2014, 05:47 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is online now
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They are about 2/3 the cost of the dealer and are reasonable if something unexpected comes up. That being said, their estimates are pretty much on target and if they give you a price, it's gonna be that price. Call Dan Middleton (owner) and tell him Big Dog sent you. Just Google them on the interweb for all the contact info.
Yep,

already on their website.
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Old 12-14-2014, 06:03 PM
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What?!?!?!
Rusted out tailgate + rust @ ALL four jack points + 256k miles = time to sell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuscleWagon View Post
It's a touring thing...you wouldn't understand

Hard to explain but I've had a fascination with wagons for many years and the E39 is probably the best looking one out there IMHO. Throw 292HP in there and I'm in heaven. I still can't believe I get to drive one of my favorite cars on Earth every single day. Doesn't seem fair since I paid so little (relatively speaking) for it.
I agree 100% with the wouldn't understand comment! A 1974 Opal Sportwagon was my first real desire of wagons.

I enjoyed every mile I spent in the 528iT, whether it was on the backroads or the freeways: summer Toyos or winter Hakkas. I've begun my search for an '03 540iT M-Sport........

Quote:
Originally Posted by mda185 View Post
One thing none of us wagon fans have mentioned is that the general public does not expect a wagon to be a high performance car. It means we fly under the radar much of the time and don't attract negative attention that coupes and sedans do when they are lowered and have dark tinted windows. I get followed by law enforcement a lot more in my E39 530i Sport than I do in my touring...........
I'm 60. Seven years and 100k miles in the touring; I never was followed. A beige wagon, even with tint was always under the radar. Yesterday, in the Black 528i, I was followed thru 5 streets by an officer until I left his jurisdiction.

Never wanted to appear as a gangsta, which is why the Black 528i has not been tinted.
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Old 12-15-2014, 12:10 AM
707BimmerBum 707BimmerBum is offline
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Rusted out tailgate + rust @ ALL four jack points + 256k miles = time to sell.







I agree 100% with the wouldn't understand comment! A 1974 Opal Sportwagon was my first real desire of wagons.



I enjoyed every mile I spent in the 528iT, whether it was on the backroads or the freeways: summer Toyos or winter Hakkas. I've begun my search for an '03 540iT M-Sport........

Get that Alpine White '03 540iT Msport in NJ before someone else does. That car is a steal!!
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:07 AM
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bmdubya1198 bmdubya1198 is offline
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Get that Alpine White '03 540iT Msport in NJ before someone else does. That car is a steal!!
Definitely! Someone had mentioned that's a one of 3 or 4 imported to the U.S.
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