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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
All, I am new to the board and I have enjoyed catching up on all the good information exchanged. There is obviously an extensive amount of knowledge, know-how, and experience on this board, so I feel I should get some intelligent (and probably blunt) opinions on my issue.

The E39 M5 has always been my dream car! I watched helplessly as a 20-something as it came out and cost more than I made in a year...times have changed and I was able to acquire ,by chance (longer story) a Titanium Silver 2001 Beast for practically nothing.:M5eyes: Now that I have obtained my holy grail of cars, i am stuck in a different conundrum....:dunno:
She has 100458 miles on her, and by all outward appearance was not very well maintained. The previous owner said he commuted between OH-PA on a weekly basis which really upped the miles, but that from 60k-100k, 90% of those miles were Highway.
My issue is that I want to go all-in on the girl. I have, so far, cleaned her from stem to stern, checked the gas tank (she sat for over a year with 0 road time), changed oil and filter (x2), fuel and filter, spark plugs, washed her again because it was so damn filthy, and now I am wondering which way to go. The wheels are curb rubbed all over, the tires wont pass PA inspection. The mechanic I took her to says she needs to have the sway bar brackets replaced and probably the water pump. The serpentine is cracked and on its last leg....and the list goes on. The majority of the other issues (that I know about) are cosmetic, and I can deal with fixing up as time permits...they wont detract from the exhilaration of the drive. However, is she a femme fatale and destined at this point in her life to be a money pit of diminishing returns due to the lack of road time for mechanical issues? Or should I listen to that 20-something old inside of me, pray the kids learn how to throw a 120-mph fastball, and put the time and effort into restoring her? I have seen that there are plenty of owners out there at 100k+ but I am wondering if the work I am going to do to get her road-worthy will be overcome by automother-nature and she's already singing her swan song?
To be fair, I did drive her from her resting point to my place the other day post-spark plug/oil change, and she rode like a dream! I didnt punch it because all the tags are expired, and my wife was tailgating in the zoom-zoom!, but by all accounts, she still runs, sounds, smells, feels fine....and I am wondering if that is a "for now" statement.

So I am wondering should I:
1)really go all-in and make her look new (e.g., new paint, repair and powder-coat OEM wheels, fix bumpers, redo tint, etc.);
2)just take the free ride and grind it out, completing only essential maintenance required to keep her on the road, and fore-go any expensive fixes that may not last the life of another critical part that could break the following week; or
3) flip it, and sell it to someone who is doesnt care about the cost and frustration associated with #1.


Thank you for reading my rant, I apologize for it's length. Thank you in advance for any opinions! :byebye:
 

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1. Congratulations on your car!
2. Like anything that is beautiful, she is high maintenance.
3. She will need repairs, even routine maintenance will test the strength of the relationships you have with those around you.
4. Nothing ever costs LESS than you think.
5. She will put a smile on your face every time you drive her (and she feels like being driven).
6. When she is taken care of, you'll be rewarded.
7. This is not the car to own if you think of it as an investment.
8. Enjoy the hell out of it! Many of us will never enjoy another car more than the E39 M5.

-Allen

EDIT: You added the three options while I was already responding! I say, if its feasible, number 1. To me, number 2 is not an option. A neglected M5 will chew you (your patience and your wallet) up and spit you out.
 
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I like option 2. Make it mechanically perfect and just keep on driving! You're going to be inside the cabin most of the time so why bother making it perfect unless you know you have the funds. Plus, in the long haul, you might like it so much you'll spring for option 1 when you have the means to do so.

My M5 has scuffed bumpers from autocross cones and rims that need to be refinished. However, the engine and drivetrain is well looked after and I don't fear taking it out on another autocross to flog on it. I can still shine up the paint well as I don't have any scratches, just some rock chips and swirled/scuffed bumpers.
 

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So you're a writer.. Since you asked for blunt opinions I'll lay down my 2 cents. Option 3 off you go! Why you ask? b/c your concerns are mainly superficial (read cosmetic). The real money pit is in the invisible PM to keep the Beast in tip top condition, like suspension, engine electronics, sensors and cooling components. Let's start with suspension, take thrust arm, rear ball joint, tie rods, center drag link, upper strut mount, rear shock mount, idler control arm bushing, rear integral link, and how about saggy springs and tired shocks, none of which got a mention in your description of list to do on a 100k beast. All of a sudden, a serpentine belt and sway bar bracket sound quite benign doesn't it?! And let's not even get started with the timing chain/guides, rod bearings and double vanos. If you think a spit shined M5 is a healthy M5, you'll be in a world of surprise. If I were you, and must haz cheeseburger, I'd unload this one and use the proceeds towards a worthy perhaps low miles but definitely well cared for example and go from there.
 

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If you are the kind of owner who would reap great satisfaction from rejuvenating her, then start researching DIYs in the sticky Guidepost. Calculate how much of your acquisition "savings" (and/or more) you are prepared to spend on reconditioning. See if your expected costs and goals align.
 

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Congrats. I am doing the same with mine, which has 89k miles right now. I was the 2nd and 4th owner, and I daily drove it for 4 years. I am now in the process of taking care of the essentials and the odd 100k maintenance areas. I am planning on refreshing the suspension and the drivetrain mounts in the month or two. I fixed the center bearing on the driveshaft, changed the diff and transmission fluids (2nd time, every 45k miles), and hanged the ebox fan due to codes.

It still brings a smile to my face after 9 years so I am an option 1 man.
 

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I wouldn't skimp on maintenance but there's a fair argument to say spend a bit getting her in fair shape but perfection at this point in her life would be pointless and expensive. Better to drive it than keep her as a garage queen. Just have fun, no 10 year old will be perfect so why would you want too swap for another?
 

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As a dream car you face what we all do eventually, dreams are better than reality a lot of the time. No matter what M5 you buy, unless you get a very expensive and low mileage example, there is one for sale here in Toronto for 38K C$ with about 20K miles on it I would just enjoy what you have.

A big part of the mtce fun is not just replacing parts but selecting good upgrades when the time comes. Yup it is a bit pricier but the results are great. I have had my 01 beast for 3 years and while I tried to resist the nonstock route I am very pleased with every mod and having a car that is just what I want is very satisfying. PSS9s being the best change of all.:goldcup:

Keep it, mod it, and enjoy is my 2 Canadian cents.
 
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If you got it for a steal, I mean an absolute steal, I would do the minimum PM: all fluids, oil, serpentine, maybe even the water pump if it really is bad (although your mech prob just said this cuz you are at 100K). Then, drive it for a while. If it continues to run strong and you have no issues consider selling it and chasing an immaculate car.

Seriously though, my biggest reason for not fixing it up would be paint. If the car needs a full repaint, then I wouldn't bother. Maybe if you want to wrap it? An OEM quality paint job would run like 6K. Enough cannot be said about the quality of factory paint.
 
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Some great advice above. Based on what you wrote and how you wrote it, I'd vote for option #3. Get it road worthy and presentable, sell it, make a little money and find yourself a nice car.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Not a writer, but I play one when I drink...

So you're a writer.. Since you asked for blunt opinions I'll lay down my 2 cents. Option 3 off you go! Why you ask? b/c your concerns are mainly superficial (read cosmetic). The real money pit is in the invisible PM to keep the Beast in tip top condition, like suspension, engine electronics, sensors and cooling components. Let's start with suspension, take thrust arm, rear ball joint, tie rods, center drag link, upper strut mount, rear shock mount, idler control arm bushing, rear integral link, and how about saggy springs and tired shocks, none of which got a mention in your description of list to do on a 100k beast. All of a sudden, a serpentine belt and sway bar bracket sound quite benign doesn't it?! And let's not even get started with the timing chain/guides, rod bearings and double vanos. If you think a spit shined M5 is a healthy M5, you'll be in a world of surprise. If I were you, and must haz cheeseburger, I'd unload this one and use the proceeds towards a worthy perhaps low miles but definitely well cared for example and go from there.
Guys, thanks for all the responses. Since it was such a great deal (essentially family walked away when they left the country and refused any offered monies), I felt why not just flip it...hence the immediate superficial concerns. Then I drove it #love! My head knows where option 1 will take me eventually...yes, past the paint, oil, leather, trim, and even past the belts, pumps, and valves. I just helped my father replace his upper/lower control arms, bushings and springs on his S420, so I realize the joy, pain and expense associated with a late model/high mileage toy.
But you are all correct, this isnt a bottomless well, and I guess I was concerned if this is going to be a thousands of dollars affair, or a tens of thousands affair. Time is on my side as she will be a garage queen; I would attempt to scour and apply all DIY lessons learned; and I have no intention of taking it out if the temp dips below 54 F. And of the 9,992 01 Beasts out there, how many have succumbed (through no REAL fault to their owners) to some mechanical or electrical affliction from which there was no return?

So, yes, I guess the inital thought was to offer a "spit-shine" just so when I drove it and I came upon another who suffered from the same love-affair I have with the M5, I wouldnt get the stink-eye for having it in such disrepair. Like I said before, she runs and sounds great, no OBD codes, and even the exhaust smells great...just not sure how much longer i can press the "I believe everything will not fall apart in middle-of-nowhere" button.
Again, thanks for the advice and, hopefully, I am on this site for a loooong time to come.:checkeredflag:
 

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Since you picked it up for nothing, I personally would sell it and use the money towards a well-sorted example. However, if you enjoy restorations, it may be a fun project. In that case, I would mainly worry about possible unknown mechanical issues and what kind of maintenance or care the car had to this point.

By 100K miles, if they haven't been replaced, a whole lot of things will be due soon (not including routine maintenance such as tranny and diff fluids, plugs, etc.) including fuel filter and pump, CPS, MAFS, O2 sensors, clutch, etc. I'm not a bearing worry wort, but at that mileage I would be concerned not knowing the driving style and oil change interval prior to your ownership. A used oil analysis might help you out here or you could just elect to replace the bearings.

Good luck either way!
 

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I'll start the bidding at $150 shipped ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Since you picked it up for nothing, I personally would sell it and use the money towards a well-sorted example. However, if you enjoy restorations, it may be a fun project. In that case, I would mainly worry about possible unknown mechanical issues and what kind of maintenance or care the car had to this point.

By 100K miles, if they haven't been replaced, a whole lot of things will be due soon (not including routine maintenance such as tranny and diff fluids, plugs, etc.) including fuel filter and pump, CPS, MAFS, O2 sensors, clutch, etc. I'm not a bearing worry wort, but at that mileage I would be concerned not knowing the driving style and oil change interval prior to your ownership. A used oil analysis might help you out here or you could just elect to replace the bearings.

Good luck either way!
I guess I am looking forward to it as a restoration project. I would have continued just resorting to deep, longing sighs whenever an M5 passed me, had this one not fallen into my lap. So if it is sold, the money will most likely NOT go towards another. Thank you all for the insight. If it does go on the auction block, ill be sure to start the bidding here!
 
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