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This post serves as an introduction to my car, a 2001 M5 that I actually found on this board. I'd been thinking about an E39 M5 for a couple of months when I stumbled this car. Originally I was going for LSB, but the unique color and the options swayed me to Stratus. I made the deal while on a business trip and arranged a time to fly to Irvine to pick it up. That was back in August. I've intended to start a thread since, but work and family have absorbed all of my time, as they often do.

The first few posts cover the initial week or two of ownership, during which most of the changes were made. I'll leave out the boring stuff like oil and fluid changes that everybody does when they buy a new car and try to stick to the fun stuff. As you'll see, this was a great car in good shape that just needed a few small things to be a great daily driver.

One of the few pictures I have of the day I picked it up. The PPI indicated that it needed new tires and an alignment, so I had tires shipped to a shop in Irvine. Picked the car up, paid and drove it straight to the shop. Along the way I stopped at Irvine BMW for a ZHP shift knob and a new set of floormats. Little things that make an old car new again.


From there, I grabbed dinner and hit the road back to Sacramento. I've driven the I-5 route plenty of times, and this was by far the most comfortable car I've ever taken on that trip. The tires and alignment fixed an odd shimmy at freeway speeds, and the suspension felt good overall. This picture is taken as the car arrived at about 10 p.m. I was so happy with the car I couldn't sleep and ended up going back out at 12 a.m. for another drive.


The first order of business was a quick interior and exterior cleaning followed by installing a few goodies. Every car I buy gets a new shift knob and floor mats. I also added an alcantara steering wheel from Coby Wheel. Great product and a very fair price compared to the factory ZHP wheel.


Comparison of the ZHP to the factory shift knob:


The car had a number of small issues, all fixed for less than $100 each. The next on the list was a re-filled rearview mirror. If your car has the bubble, do this now! It's rare on these cars that $100 spent can make such a big difference.

Old:


A week later:
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Next item on the agenda, after a few days of driving and enjoying my new toy, was a thorough cleaning of the interior. I knew there was a lot of leather in these things, but holy crap did it take awhile! Leatherique on just about every non-shiny surface.

Driver's bolster before. Dry, tough and cracking:


Driver's bolster after:


Passenger seat after:


Dash after:


Interior's done for now:


Final inspection and testing every single button and switch in the car (they all work!)
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Cleaned, claybared and polished the exterior. The paint, like the interior, is in great shape overall. The front bumper has a crack that will need to be addressed, but otherwise it's in great shape.


Side view. Really falling in love with this color, especially in direct sunlight.


The business end with the unacceptably quiet exhaust:


Exhaust issue addressed:


And finally, at home:



Next on the list:
Finding a vendor to completely refinish the wheels.
Fix the front bumper.
Drive the hell out of it.
 

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Nicely done! Congrats on the car! That is a really nice color and love the interior too.

So where did you have the mirror fixed? Now that I have a good alternate daily driver, this would be a good time to get that done on mine.
Got the bubble. Hasn't gotten any worse for 6 months at least.
 

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Very nice! Glad it went to a board member :)
 

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Congrats on the purchase. Glad to hear you are enjoying the car and getting all the issues addressed, no matter how minor.

I always liked that color.

Good luck!
 

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fantastic looking car. It really says something when you finish a long drive in a car and a few hours later get the itch again to get behind the wheel! happy motoring and be sure to post up pics and video of the new exhaust.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Nicely done! Congrats on the car! That is a really nice color and love the interior too.

So where did you have the mirror fixed? Now that I have a good alternate daily driver, this would be a good time to get that done on mine.
Got the bubble. Hasn't gotten any worse for 6 months at least.
I went through radar-mirror.com, as recommended on the board. Service was excellent, and the turnaround was 24 hours. The longest wait of the entire transaction was shipping. If you use USPS Priority, it's 2 days there and 2 days back, so you could have it finished in a week. I didn't have any issue driving around without a rearview mirror for a week.


Nice find. Makes me wish I'd kept my 1997 M3 to park my M5 next to, but alas I didn't have the space and funds for both...
That's the exact year of my E36. Great car that I've been through front to back. I don't think I'll ever sell it. My issue currently is space, which I'm working on a solution for. The only other car I'd like to have is an E46 M3. Something about the early/mid-2000s BMWs that they just got right. 3, 5 and 7 Series from that era are all excellent.

Thanks everybody else for the kind words. I'll update this thread when something changes.
 

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I went through radar-mirror.com, as recommended on the board. Service was excellent, and the turnaround was 24 hours. The longest wait of the entire transaction was shipping. If you use USPS Priority, it's 2 days there and 2 days back, so you could have it finished in a week. I didn't have any issue driving around without a rearview mirror for a week.




That's the exact year of my E36. Great car that I've been through front to back. I don't think I'll ever sell it. My issue currently is space, which I'm working on a solution for. The only other car I'd like to have is an E46 M3. Something about the early/mid-2000s BMWs that they just got right. 3, 5 and 7 Series from that era are all excellent.

Thanks everybody else for the kind words. I'll update this thread when something changes.
Thanks - I will get that mirror done here soon.

And agree on the E36 and E46 M3 sentiments. But as a long time BMW fan and owner including a E36 M3, I just went another direction and so far I am really enjoying the experience - early gen 1 996 Porsche 911. Fantastic drivers car and much more of a true sports car than an M3 ever could be. And getting super cheap - not much more than similar miles E36's and less than equivalent miles / condition E46 M3's.

One would look nice sitting between your M3 and your M5 methinks!!

 

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Something about the early/mid-2000s BMWs that they just got right. 3, 5 and 7 Series from that era are all excellent.
You have that right - the golden age!:)

Congrats on the pick-up, glad the car went to a good home where it will be taken care of. Individual Stratus Gray - nice!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks - I will get that mirror done here soon.

And agree on the E36 and E46 M3 sentiments. But as a long time BMW fan and owner including a E36 M3, I just went another direction and so far I am really enjoying the experience - early gen 1 996 Porsche 911. Fantastic drivers car and much more of a true sports car than an M3 ever could be. And getting super cheap - not much more than similar miles E36's and less than equivalent miles / condition E46 M3's.

One would look nice sitting between your M3 and your M5 methinks!!
I agree that the 911 is a natural progression from the M cars. Around here, there's a definite break in the cars you see at track days: E36 and E46 M3s are everywhere, but there's a noticeable absence of the E90/E92s. Tons of 911s from 996, 997 generations though. My bet is that a lot of people loved their E46 M3s, saw how heavy the E90 got, and bought a 911 as their next car.

I worked on the launch of the 997 and I've been keeping track of their value. I will own one some day!
 

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You have that right - the golden age!:)

Congrats on the pick-up, glad the car went to a good home where it will be taken care of. Individual Stratus Gray - nice!
The golden age for sure. I'm working on a history of BMW now, and it makes sense that the mid-2000s cars were the pinnacle of the 3, 5 and 7 Series lines. They all came out in the 70s and were incrementally improved for 30 years. And you can tell - driving each generation of car, they just feel like they were built by the same people and constantly refined. During that period, BMW had one of the most consistent group of executives in the industry, and that consistency created great product.

In the late 90s/early 2000s, that changed. It's reflected in the cars that were produced after that era, starting with the revised 7 Series, the 2004 5 Series, etc. The cars today are all very, very good, but there's a point in history when they stopped being refinements of the previous/proven designs. Around that time, BMW also started to go after more volume, and the priority shifted.

You can get into an E30, an E36 and an E46 (even non-M) and they all feel consistent, and each one gets better. Then you get into an E90 and you're in a very good car. But, to me at least, it doesn't feel like the logical extension of the E46. It's an all-new car by a different group of people.
 
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