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2001 E39 M5 High Spec Full Restoration

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In the name of helping others, I am going to document the process of restoring my 2001 E39 M5 (formerly owned by Wiliam Storey of Rich Energy) which spent too much of its life in Scotland, resulting in the worst corrosion I've ever seen on an E39. The E39 M5 was always my dream car since I discovered them and by the age of 21, I managed to finally acquire one in 2018. Unfortunately, BMW stopped making the E39 M5 in 2003 when I was a mere 6 years of age, so purchasing a brand new one to cherish was no longer possible, so my goal is to restore mine back to being brand new in every possible meaning. If anyone knows anything about E39s, it's that they rust.....and it's quite bad. Well, during this restoration every mistake BMW made with their manufacturing and finishing techniques is also going to be rectified to completely future-proof the car. During this restoration, the car is also going to receive a 'glow-up' and have many rare OEM optional extras retrofitted with some exciting upgrades along the way thanks to the amazing community and their hard work to improve components and upgrade from old tech. I hope this restoration helps others and inspires them to carry out preventative maintenance on their E39s, as well as catching corrosion early on before it develops. I can be found on most of the E39 Facebook groups as well as the WhatsApp UK E39 M5 group should anybody wish to reach out for advice or questions
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I’ve had 5 e39’s from 2007 to now, not a single one has had any rust. I think it’s more environmental conditions that lead to e39’s rusting, and any car for that matter.
You're right. Cars from warm, dry states in the US don't seem to be afflicted by corrosion at all.

Different for those cars in the US NE states that put salt on their roads in winter. But having said that, the E39 does have a few poor design shortcomings that encourage corrosion. The lack of a drainage hole in the fuel filler area is one though this doesn't lead to structural corrosion, more of a cosmetic issue.

For those where road salt is an issue, jacking point and sill corrosion are real bugbears and part of this is down to poor elements of the E39's design. One UK repair specialist makes a reasonable living doing restoration work on E39s and makes some interesting remarks about the contributory reasons for sill corrosion, here:-

I fully endorse his comments about the sill covers being a contributory problem, as well as the water drainage arrangements near the cabin filters.

Here are some pics of the sill of my E39 530d sills taken by the guy I sold it to - for 'spares or repairs' - a year ago. (The car had spent most of its life on the heavily salted roads in the Scottish Highlands.)

A pictorial history of hope and disappointment.....

Automotive parking light Car Wheel Tire Vehicle

Then reality bites hard.....

Font Wood Wheel Adaptation Screenshot

Automotive parking light Tire Wheel Land vehicle Car

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Hood Automotive lighting Wood

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wood Tread Gas

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Motor vehicle

(The lesson here is, only buy an old car from Scotland if you can weld and are handy at sheet metal fabrication!)

A toxic combination of Scottish winter roads and BMW design weaknesses definitely led to the demise of this particular E39.

The postscript to this was that after countless hours of radical bodywork Phil resurrected the car and it has since passed its annual inspection ('MOT' test here in the UK) and recently made a trip to the Nurburgring. He visited my home area not long ago and called in to show me his handiwork. It now looks very presentable and is structurally sound.

My M5 is a different story. It spent the early part of its life in the milder, drier climes of SE England where salt is rarely applied to the roads. Since then and in the 10 years of my ownership it has never seen the salt since it goes into hibernation in my temperature and humidity-controlled garage in late October and only re-emerges the following May. I've been unable to find any significant evidence of the dreaded 'tin worm' anywhere, however, one of my next maintenance tasks is to remove all the plastic sill covers and do a thorough inspection 'down there' just in case!

OP. I wish you luck with your restoration. You'll need the patience of Job and the gold of Midas to bring your Scottish car back to 'as new' (or better) condition. Keep us updated. I'll be following with interest.
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