When it comes to BMWs there are quite a few that could qualify as one of “the best.” But if you love everything about driving and want a true drivers car that will connect you to the road like it was an extension of your body, you’ll have a tough time finding something better than the E39 M5. The E39 is the last of the “analog” BMW’s that don’t have a wide array of electronic nannies controlling every aspect of the car. Don’t get me wrong, the newer M division cars are still spectacular, but some could argue that they’ve lost their touch when it comes to being a true driver’s car. And with an all new M5 coming later on this year that will have an all wheel drive system, it looks as if there will never be another M5 like the E39. To pay tribute to this fantastic car, Matt Farah featured it on the most recent webisode of The Smoking Tire and it’ll immediately help you remember what set this high powered sedan apart from all the rest.
The E39 holds a special place in my heart as it was the car that developed my eternal love for BMW’s. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was reading an article in one of the popular car magazines and there was one part that talked about how awesome it was to be able to pull up next to a Corvette, Mustang and beat it in a light to light drag race. And that wasn’t even the best part, what stuck with me is that you could beat up on a muscle car while you had your buddies in the car with you. From that point on, and still to this day, I lost myself in daydreams where a handful of my friends and I drove around in this badass M5 destroying unsuspecting “fast cars.” Granted, as time went on I came to realize that straight line speed wasn’t the M5’s forte, even though it was quite good at it. So that daydream started to include laying down lap times that would rival even the sportiest sports cars of the time.
So when I came across the new Smoking Tire webisode I obviously couldn’t look away. And for good reason too. As with previous episodes of the show, Farah drives privately owned cars and gives his take on them. The car he got his hands on is a silver E39 that appears to be in nearly mint condition. It’s a 2001 model and it has a few bolt-on upgrades that were intended to keep the car “stock-like,” but yet optimize the driving experience. Which I think is a brilliant way of looking at it because if there was ever a car that deserved BMW’s slogan of “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” it’s the E39 M5. So why fix something that isn’t broken by adding a bunch of nonsense upgrades. Instead, you just amplify or optimize, the things that make the car so good in the first place.
Some of the upgrades used on this gorgeous M5 are the Dinan stage 3 ECU software, KWV2 coil overs, Eisenmann exhaust system, intake, and a short shift kit for that spectacular 6-speed manual transmission.
When the E39 left the factory floor it had the glorious 4.9L S62 V8 that provided 400hp of high revving naturally aspirated goodness. It’s one of the best parts about the car and what makes it so highly sought after. That naturally aspirated engine was not only extremely powerful, but it sounds like a Greek God’s battle cry. Which actually caught me by surprise to hear Farah talking about how he could barely hear the exhaust during his test drive even though it has a full exhaust system. I say that because I have a dear friend that has an E39 that’s almost identical to this to the point that I had to do a double take when I saw it because I thought it might even be his. And the sound his car makes when you start it up and it sits there even at idle will make you weak in the knees. It sounds like the best sounding muscle car you could possibly think of. And don’t even get me started on the intoxicating sound it makes when he drops a couple gears and opens it up. Now I know his has an exhaust delete instead of an aftermarket system, but I might have to question Farah’s hearing.
The bottom line is the E39 M5 followed the proven formula of a high powered naturally aspirated V8 located up front, manual transmission with power sent to the rear wheels, and a seemingly perfect weight distribution. And because of that these cars are steadily increasing in value. I fully believe they will one day be a collector’s item in the same way that an old BMW 2002 is nowadays. Especially since they came standard with manual transmission, the rumor is that a true three pedal manual transmission will no longer be offered in a BMW, which seems like it should be a crime but only time will tell.