Bring a Trailer Bargain of the Week: 2001 E39 BMW M5

2001 BMW E39 M5 on Bring a Trailer article highlights:

  • The 2001 BMW E39 M5 continues to be a supremely satisfying sports sedan, but it has some engine reliability and livability upgrades over the 1999-2000 models
  • A clean 93,000-mile 2001 M5 is available on Bring a Trailer right now with a current bid of $13,000—well below the market average
  • Although not perfect, a 2001-2003 M5 is one of the most reliable and stout used M products

From its inception, the BMW M5 has balanced supercar-level performance with luxurious refinement. This is a sedan—and occasionally a wagon—that shatters speed limits with ease yet comfortably fulfills daily-driver duties. And the older ones, especially the E39 M5, do so with a delightful dose of analog balance. But while that usually makes them expensive, occasional bargains do appear. And one of these bargains, a 2001 BMW M5, is up for grabs this week on Bring a Trailer.

The BMW E39 M5 is still one fast and special super sports sedan, and it got even better in 2001

2001 BMW M5
Engine4.9-liter ‘S62’ V8
Horsepower394 hp
Torque369 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Curb weight4024 lbs
0-60 mph time4.8 seconds

Bimmer fans often consider the 1990s-to-early-2000s period as BMW’s and M’s modern golden age. And while this era gave birth to several stellar sports cars, the E39 M5 is arguably the peak of the bunch. Basically, if you want the ultimate expression of M’s road car goodness, you want a 1999-2003 M5.

Sure, the E39 M5’s specs don’t seem impressive in comparison to the 627-hp 2022 M5 CS and its 2.9-second 0-60 time. But then, the current twin-turbo M5 is automatic-only and has AWD. In contrast, the E39 M5 comes exclusively with a stick and RWD. Also, its naturally-aspirated V8 revs to 7000 rpm while breathing through eight individual throttle bodies. And to quote Hagerty, it’s “a righteous screamer of an engine,” as well as M’s first road-going V8.

But the incredible V8 and solid shifter aren’t the only things that make the E39 BMW M5 special. Yes, stick-shift V8 RWD sports cars are a dying breed these days. Yet the 1999-2003 M5 isn’t a leather-upholstered muscle car. Almost two decades after the last one left the factory and this sedan is still serving up smiles. With a solid chassis, just enough body roll to enhance driver feedback, and sublime steering, the E39 M5 remains a superb sports sedan.

However, it wasn’t without some in-period faults. Early cars had some VANOS issues as well as elevated oil consumption. But alongside a minor facelift and interior upgrade, BMW improved the M5’s engine for 2001. Firstly, the VANOS accumulator got a new shutoff valve to keep oil in the system and reduce noise. Secondly, the secondary air injection system received wider passages to warm up the catalytic converters faster and lean out the start-up mixture. As a result, carbon buildup drastically decreased.

You can try scoring this 2001 example on Bring a Trailer

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These reliability upgrades are why later E39 M5 models are often more desirable than early ones. And one of these later super sedans, a 2001 BMW M5, is up for grabs this week on Bring a Trailer.

In addition to that screaming S62 V8, this 2001 BMW M5 packs a limited-slip differential, trunk lid spoiler, Dynamic and Automatic Stability Control, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. It also has xenon headlights with built-in washers, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, and a glass sunroof. Inside there’s Nappa leather upholstery, burl walnut trim, heated power-adjustable front sports seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and navigation. And besides its suspension and chassis upgrades, the E39 M5 also has an M steering wheel and gauges.

Despite its age and near-93,000-mile odometer reading, this 2001 BMW M5 is in excellent shape apart from some minor bolster wear. It has a clean, accident-free history, too, as well as a plethora of service records. The seller also recently changed the oil as well as the ABS module and wheel sensors (likely for TPMS reasons). And besides an aftermarket Magnum exhaust system, it’s stock.

This well-driven BMW E39 M5 should be a reliable bargain if you treat it right

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When this 2001 BMW M5 was new, it stickered at $72,145—that’s the modern equivalent of $117,840. But as of this writing, with two days left in the auction, it’s listed at $13,000. According to Hagerty, a good-condition E39 M5 like this is usually worth around $38,600. In other words, this is a certified M bargain.

Although this M5 is very affordable right now, I’d strongly recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection. However, if you’re worried about reliability, know that the E39 M5 is not the maintenance nightmare that its successor is. It’s actually one of the most reliable used M cars out there once you take care of a few things, such as its plastic timing chain guides and rod bearings.

But since this is a 2001 car, its VANOS system is stouter. Also, while carbon buildup can happen, it’s not as much of a headache. Plus, S62s don’t suffer rod bearing failure anywhere near as frequently as, say, S54 inline-sixes. And if you’re worried, an oil analysis usually catches it before it becomes a problem.

Perhaps the best way to keep an E39 M5 like this running strong, though, is to drive it regularly. And it’s clear that this car’s past owners have done just that. So, do you want to continue that legacy?

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