The E39 BMW M5, the simply-styled V8 super sedan from the early 2000s, is almost universally appreciated by car enthusiasts. Its look is timeless and it lives in a technological sweet spot that includes convenient modernizations without losing what you might call “soul.” Here’s what one looks like with 400,000 miles worth of travel on that soul.
Alex Palmeri of LegitStreetCars bought this well-used Bimmer in Atlanta and drove it home to Chicago, which in of itself is an accomplishment, but thanks to fastidious upkeep the car actually looks... pretty damn decent.
The video introducing the car is Very YouTubey, in that there’s a lot of buildup and Doug DeMuroesque intonation, but the backstory of where Palmeri found this high-mileage hero is mildly interesting. If you’re not into that kind of thing though, you can zoom straight to the 12:50 mark and just see the current condition of the car.
Palmeri says the M5’s engine was actually changed out in 2003 over high oil consumption, which puts the powerplant’s mileage at about 319,000. I know some folks are sticklers about that, so I thought it’d be important to point out.
I, for one, am still impressed that this car is still on the road. Apparently it pulled 23 mpg on the highway trip home, which is exceptional for such a car, and didn’t explode despite a diagnostic computer picking up “51 faults” which could range from nothing to who-knows-what.
The car was resprayed in its original color a few years ago, had its worn interior replaced with a used one, seems to have a whining differential, some sort of air bag issue, needs an O2 sensor and a charcoal canister, and I don’t know but to me it looks a little smokey when he revs it. But! It’s running!
Palmeri seems to think it was well-bought at $8,000 with a clean title and Carfax, and a lot of service records, citing seeing other heavily used ones in the $10,000 to $14,000 neighborhood. I guess whether or not it was a good deal depends on how badly you want an M5, and how brave you are about dealing with the inevitable deterioration of just about everything at that mileage.
I’m still convinced that, with determination and patience, and strict attention to maintenance, cars can pretty much live indefinitely. And I’m always glad to see cool cars being kept alive. It will be interesting to see how well this M5 holds up to more use, and now that it’s owned by a YouTuber I’m guessing we’ll get to!