While the E39 M5 may be more iconic, today’s Nice Price or No Dice 540i should provide three-quarters of that car’s performance at about a quarter of its cost. Let’s see if that makes for a fractional win.
With both Space Jam and the Animaniacs having made comebacks, it’s not surprising that yesterday’s Toon-tastic 2000 Chevy Venture Warner Brothers edition minivan would also make a grand reappearance. Most of you like that, and found that kid-friendly people carrier’s $2,000 price to be easy enough on the wallet. That combo earned the cartoon car a solid 86 percent Nice Price win.
Maybe yesterday’s two-grand van was too much of a slam dunk. Perhaps today we try something a little more challenging. Maybe something a little more complicated than a simple FWD Chevy. What could that be? Oh, I don’t know, why don’t we go with something like this 1999 BMW 540i sedan.
Now, to be fair, this 540i does have a manual transmission, and while those are generally simpler and less expensive to maintain than your typical automatic, this one does have six gears making it a bit extra complicated.
The general consensus around the water cooler is that the E39 5 Series is the last truly good looking edition of BMW’s long-running mid-sizer. This one sports the M5 edition’s more aggressive bumper caps and Style 65 Double Spoke wheels making it just a bit better looking.
Those good looks are enhanced by what the ad says is a decent appearance, calling the exterior of the 120,000 mile car a 9/10. That one-point deduction from perfect is apparently for some scratches on the front bumper that the seller claims are “very minor and easy to fix. I’m no Svengali, but I’d wager that if they were that cheap and easy to fix, those blemishes would have been already addressed.
The interior gets a slightly lower 8/10 score, and the reason for that is made obvious by the condition of the front sport bucket seats. Neither driver nor passenger throne is egregiously worn — there’s no apparent wear-through or seam ripping — but both show plenty of crazing and dye transfer. On the plus side, the rest of the interior looks to be top-notch and there is still one of those crazy-big hard-wired mobile phones in the center console to never use. There’s also a jar full of change in the passenger-side footwell, but the seller doesn’t say in the ad whether that gets thrown in with the deal or not.
As we noted at the outset, the 540i offers a good chunk of the M5’s performance at typically a much smaller investment in initial outlay and ongoing operating costs. That’s made by way of the M62 V8 under the hood. The all-alloy 4398 cc mill uses double overhead cams which, starting with this model year, employed BMW’s variable valve timing Vanos mechanism on the intakes. That helped the engine to make 282 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and while a good bit off the 394 horses and 369 lb-ft of the S62 in the contemporary M5, those are still pretty good numbers.
According to the ad, the drivetrain here works as it should with no grinding in the gears nor odd noises from the clutch. The engine too is described as being in “great shape” exhibiting no cooling issues or fluid leaks. Everything else about the car — sunroof, power windows, etc. — is claimed to be in working order.
In fact, the most glaring issue with this 540i seems to be those somewhat janky seats. And, while the seller claims that you can source “many interior parts for these cars online or junkyards” I doubt that you’re going to find any better at your local pull-and-pay yard. A better solution may be found in a pair of old-school sheepskin covers or maybe just breaking down and taking the car to an upholsterer who can refresh the dye and mask the cracks.
For anyone contemplating such post-purchase updates, we’ll now need to consider the car’s $6,000 asking price. That’s what the seller has set for the clean title car, but they qualify that by closing the ad with “but don’t be afraid to shoot me a good offer.”
Ok, we’re now going to shoot them that offer. What do you say, is this manual-equipped 540i worth that $6,000 asking? If not, what would you reasonably expect to pay?
H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!
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