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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Hello M5board!

I must say that the M5board has been an irreplaceable source of information and wanted to thank everybody for making the owning experience of this car that much better.

Inspired by members Kiznarsh's thread, I wanted to share my buying story and adventures with the car.

I owned many BMW's over the years and most of them while I lived in California.
Right now I'm living and working in Frankfurt, Deutschland.

This is my 2nd e39 M5, before this one I had a '00 Le Mans Blue which I owned much shorter then I was hoping to. I did have great fun with it and did what these machines were made for, fly down the Autobahn and I got it up to 165 mph on one occasion.

Back to my current M5. I'll start with how I found the car and the road trip to Italy to buy it.

It all started with me scouring car websites all over Europe for M5's when I stumbled upon this listing in Italy.
The car was listed on the Italian website that's similar to craigslist and it's not very big on car listings like Autoscout is.

Listing looked like this.



Very little details, just approximate kilometers, year and that the car is bellissima. Not even a phone number.
I used google translate and sent an email to the owner and got a very short response and on my next email, he didn't even respond.
I then noticed that he had another ad where he was selling a couch and for that he left a contact number. Makes sense, right?
With that info, I then established communication with him on WhatsApp. It took few days to actually get pictures of the car. I didn't even know what color was it, he just kept saying it was light gray.

Production date is 07/2001. Original facelift and slicktop too!







Once I received pictures and VIN, I knew it was a real deal and immediately started planning the trip.
The car was in a small town near Ancona called Sirolo. Booked a flight to Milan and took the train to Ancona where the seller was waiting for us.
I don't speak Italian, and I asked him if he speaks English and he said little, which turned out to be nothing so dealing with a language barrier was fun.

I'm going to start off by posting pictures of the beautiful town of Sirolo.













We spent the night in town and really enjoyed the scenery and food.
Even though it's a tourist town during summer, we couldn't find a single person that was speaking English.
Ordering dinner also proved to be challenging, but it's tough to go wrong with Italian food.

Tiramisu was phenomenal!



Now, back to the car.

First thing I noticed on the car was a check engine light and that the left side Vanos was ticking quite a bit, which he didn't mention.
You could tell that the car was little neglected, but otherwise pretty decent and in original condition which was key.

Single family owned since new, 4 keys, service book and few records. Other than the lower right skirt (there was a small dent which can be seen in the picture he sent me) and front bumper that was repainted due to some scratches, the paint was original all around. Best of all, it had only 45k miles on the clock!







It was obvious that the car will need some work, but that's just what I love to do and I was more than happy to nurture this beast to the condition it deserves. We settled on the price and next day completed the paperwork in the town hall in Ancona and the car was mine!
The car had to stay with the owner until I found the transportation to Germany, so we shook hands with the owner and continued with our trip back to the north of Italy.

We decided to make a mini holiday out of this trip and we stayed two nights in Treviso and planned to visit Venice.

Few shots of a very charming city of Treviso. It has a very interesting city center with narrow streets and cobblestone roads.





]

And very good pizza. mmmmmm



Spent the entire next day exploring Venice, my first time and it was a great fun! Lots of beautiful and interesting things to see.





























After a very nice trip, it was time to head back to Frankfurt and start looking for a transport.

It was 2 long weeks before I saw the car again. In the meantime, the parts pile was growing.



Found a very reliable guy for transport and the car arrived safe and sound.







Noticed that the original Running-in instructions were still present on the windshield. It was hanging on by a thread so I removed it and put it in the service book to remain as part of cars documentation.



I didn't waste any time and put those new parts to use.
Out with the nasty old filters and worn out wipers.



Oil separator vent hoses were very icky and it was time for a new pair.



I'm a big Liqui Moly fan, but I figured I try that BMW's magic fluid made by Shell. For the next time, I will probably go with LM.



Also picked up a BMW oil bag for the trunk to keep things tidy and clean.



Bumper trims have done their job of protecting the bumper so I got a fresh pair of new trim for both sides.





Now it was time to tackle that check engine light. I scanned the car back in Italy with PA Soft and it was throwing codes for exhaust camshaft sensors on both banks, conveniently located at the back of the engine right next to the firewall.

When removing the cabin air filter box, I was pleasantly surprised how everything was intact, all of the plastic tabs were still there and even the glue that holds air filter tube was still present. It honestly looked like it was never removed before.





Passenger side wasn't that bad and it was fairly accessible. Drivers side sensor, I had to attack from under the car. There was no way I could reach it from the top.





Both sensors were original with a date stamp from 02.07.2001. On top of that, they are old design. I assume that intake sensors are original and old design as well so I plan to replace them too.

After buttoning up everything, clearing codes and starting the car, the difference was astonishing.
The engine idled much smoother and Vanos wasn't making any weird sounds anymore. Amazing how these small sensors made such a big difference.

I didn't take pictures of this part, but the car had tint all around which I had to take off because it would be instant fail at the inspection.
In Germany it is not allowed to have any type of foil on the front windows and for the rear, you need some types of certificates so I decide to take everything off.
One of the worst jobs I had to do. I tried using a heat gun before taking the foil, but it still left a huge amount of glue on the windows.
Lots of elbow grease and acetone, I was able to remove all of the glue from the side windows. I'm left to deal with the back window, but I'm afraid to use acetone as I know that the rear heaters are sensitive and I don't want to damage them. If anybody has a suggestion, I'm all ears.

At this point, I decided to take the car to Dekra for inspection and see with what they come up. I didn't perform full inspection so I was curious.



Got a call later that day from the inspection dude who told me that the car didn't pass and that he will show me the problems when I come to pick it up.

He found the following issues that stopped it from being roadworthy in Germany:

- Front tires excessively worn and not safe for road use. (I was aware of this since the front tires were from 2004 and the rear ones from 2009, an example of Italian old school maintenance, drive them until they explode.
- Front headlights not aimed correctly. (broken adjusters in the left headlight, common e39 problem).
- Rear sway bar bushing bracket sheared off
- Rear upper control arms had cracked rubber on the ball joints and the grease was starting to coming out
- Missing first aid kit and safety west


I'm happy to report that since then I addressed all of the issues and the car passed inspection without any additional problems.

The very next day I had it registered and I was finally able to stretch its legs on the Autobahn!







I think this is more than enough for the first post. More updates coming up. :grin
 

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Wow what a trip. Congratulations, great looking car. The inspection is really something - we don't have anything like that where I am. You can pretty much drive anything as long as it has a license plate and passes the obd-only emissions test. Enjoy!
 

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Excellent post! Congrats on the slicktop too -- something BMW denied North American customers of for the E39 M5. :grrrr:
 

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Awesome!
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited by Moderator)
wow great post and look forward to future updates.
Thanks for reading!

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you. :)

Wow what a trip. Congratulations, great looking car. The inspection is really something - we don't have anything like that where I am. You can pretty much drive anything as long as it has a license plate and passes the obd-only emissions test. Enjoy!
Thank you!

That's pretty much what I'm used to coming from California, as long as you don't have a check engine light, you're good.
It's quite strict here as it should be. There are no speed limit roads and you must have a car in good mechanical condition.

Excellent post! Congrats on the slicktop too -- something BMW denied North American customers of for the E39 M5. :grrrr:
Thanks! I was researching about that and found the same info. It's quite rare and I dig it.

Thanks for sharing. A great find!
Thanks for reading!

Thank you. :)


To pick up where I left off, post inspection.

I started with upgrading the headlights with Hella G4 projectors. 3rd time I'm doing this on e39.



New headlight adjusters, old ones were literally falling apart as I was removing them.



New Hella G4 Bi-Xenon projectors on the right.









Put an extra layer of butyl to keep the moisture out.



Everything buttoned up and later installed on the car. I'll get some shots of the cut-off soon.



Then the battery crapped out since that too was from 2009. The beast needs a good power supply so I got her a brand new Exide 100Ah.



Next on the list was rear upper control arms. Yellow markings are from the inspection dude.



Got a set from Lemforder. Even though the rubber was cracked, the ball joint was still fine.
It would fail inevitably so it's a good thing I got that sorted. One of the easiest DIY's I've done.







This is the snapped rear sway bar bracket. I was very surprised by this having owned few e39s and daily driving e39 530i for 20k something miles, but after a quick search on here, it appears to be quite common.



Replacement bracket from BMW is ridiculously priced at $70 each.
M5board proved to be a phenomenal source of information once again and someone posted that the bracket from e36 M3 will also fit.
That one is made of steel and bares a price tag of $4.

They are not 100% identical and it took a decent amount of pushing to get into place, but it did the trick.
Also replaced both sway bar bushings while I was in there.









Fan clutch was failing and revving the car sounded like there was a jet engine under the hood.
Got a replacement part from the dealer. Manufacture was BEHR same as the one I removed.





With the help of cheap Chinese tools, this was a very easy task.



Got some fresh spark plugs too.



Two wheel center caps were missing so I went for a new set with updated design which looks much better than the old one.



Next was leaky PS lines and reservoir that were making a mess in otherwise oil free engine bay.









Used a lot of brake cleaner and got everything nice and clean. Installed new lines that I got from the dealer and new reservoir that's actually from e90 series, but identical to the one for M5, just cheaper. Part number - 32416851218



Old fluid looked like coffee and had that burnt smell. I had to get all of that crap out so I did something simple but very effective.

I disconnected the return hose from the reservoir (that's the smaller one of the two) and put the plug on the reservoir.



I then put the return hose into empty bottle, tapped it secure, refilled the reservoir to the brim with ATF and cranked the car for a couple seconds.
I repeated this procedure for a total of 4 times until the fluid started coming out clean and nice red color.
PS fluid capacity is 1.9 L and I exchanged about 2 L this way.
Albeit, starting the car like that isn't very good for the engine, so I had it warmed up before I started doing this.



Then I refilled it for the last time and bled the system. I used Liqui Moly 1100 ATF fluid.



I could immediately feel improvement. The steering response is much better and the PS pump stopped whining.

That's all for this post. More maintenance pictures following. :smile
 

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Thanks! I was researching about that and found the same info. It's quite rare and I dig it.
For DE91 (left hand drive, rest of world) M5 production, according to M5portal about 26% were slicktops, 53% glass sunroof, and 21% steel sunroof.

I'm sure you torqued the inside bushings on the control arms at normal ride height, but if not... I just recently did both of the rear control arms on my car, and similar to this one, the rubber boots were cracked but the ball joints were fine, so functionally it made no difference (yet), but at least it looks pretty. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks, that's good info! Then it really is a rare option.

Of course, finger tight, lowered the car on its own wheels and moved it back and forth, got it up on the ramps and torqued to the proper spec under the cars own weight.
I've done few suspension overhaul jobs and I never miss this step. :) Exactly, it made no difference in functionally, just looks nice and fresh. :)
 

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Great thread btw for newcomers looking at what might be typical, even on a low mileage one, of an E39 M5 they're looking to buy. All the stuff you're running across is so very common right down to that broken rear sway bar bracket, headlight adjusters, disintegrated control arm boots, fan clutch, etc. Speaking of which, there are numerous posts over the years of hood damage where a fan clutch wasn't caught in time and/or the fan blades had cracks that propagated too far and the fan explodes. Probably a good idea to replace the fan too when doing the fan clutch (or at least carefully inspect it for cracks, in high stress concentration regions, under a bright light).

It's nice to see you saved this wonderful M5!
 

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Thank you, CSBM5! I couldn't agree more! When I told my friend that the car only had 45k miles his comment was that the car is practically new and that there's nothing to be done.
Well, wrong, it wasn't owned by an enthusiast and now I'm going through all of the common stuff and bringing it up to date with preventive maintenance.

Reading those exact posts where the fan blades where lunched through the hood, is why I replaced the fan clutch immediately and don't think about it anymore. I noticed that it was too loud when I was checking the car in Italy and gave it revs with the open hood (although it can be heard even with the hood closed).
I inspected the fan blades closely, they had no cracks and I felt confident enough to reuse them with the new fan clutch. Even if I change my mind about it down the road, it's literally a 5 minute job.

Keeping up with the preventive maintenance I addressed few more items.

E46 M3 oil cap and new lower timing chain tensioner. I didn't have startup rattle, but I wanted to have fresh tensioner in there.
Old tensioner put up a bit of fight and I had to loosen it with pliers and it came right out. Soaked new tensioner in fresh oil and installed it.





Next on the list were Vanos solenoids. No related codes or problems, but again wanted to know that everything was fresh and in good working order.

Have to thank Sailor24 again for being patient and helpful for when I was doing this for the first time, as well as the creator and participants of the excellent DIY thread for doing this.





Another sign of the low mileage is that the little net on the mesh filter was still present and was just starting to degrade so I was just in time to catch it.
On my old blue M5 with 100k miles the mesh filter was completely gone.



Then I activated each solenoid with a 9V battery and thoroughly cleaned them with brake cleaner until the stream was clean and strong.
I used a compressed air can to blow it out. I know it's best to use a powerful air compressor for this, but I couldn't get my hands on it quickly enough.
I repeated the process until I was satisfied with the clicking of each solenoid.

I removed the old solder and resoldered the contact points with a fresh coat, slapped new O-rings and tested them one more time before installing them back on the car along with the new Vanos gasket.





I got the same results like when I did this on my old blue M5. I felt the car was missing some low-end power compared to the old M5 and servicing Vanos solenoids really made the car feel alive again in the lower rpms.
Very happy with the outcome and I definitely recommend this as part of preventive maintenance!

Past Saturday I replaced pre-cat sensors and much-needed thermostat replacement which I will document in the next post. :)
 

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Holy Batman. Great story. Make it all sound so matter of fact to just unscrew one, put in a better looking new one. Oh just dropped the flywheel out.... loved it.
Loved my 2000E39M which came to an early demise. Daily driver is the 2008 E60 S92M with 105K and original clutch. Great reliable machine. Can’t beat it for buy price. Question: How can I find out how many of each model was produced?
Question: any independent shops in Fairfield County Area?


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Wow impressive, I would have been divorced by now if I spent this much time lol. Great job and inspiration for others thx.
 

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Nice pics and good work on the restore! You took a chance with the purchase, particularly with the vanos making noise. Glad it wasn't a more serious issue. Enjoy the beast!
 

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Pretty hard to beat a story surrounding traveling to Italy to buy an M5, sightseeing in Venice, and then having the M5 while living in Germany!

Thanks for the story and the pics. I read this on the other forum you had posted in but wasn’t a member so I couldn’t comment.

Glad to see this here!


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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Holy Batman. Great story. Make it all sound so matter of fact to just unscrew one, put in a better looking new one. Oh just dropped the flywheel out.... loved it.
Loved my 2000E39M which came to an early demise. Daily driver is the 2008 E60 S92M with 105K and original clutch. Great reliable machine. Can’t beat it for buy price. Question: How can I find out how many of each model was produced?
Question: any independent shops in Fairfield County Area?


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Haha, thanks! V10 is on the wish list one day for sure.

Here is some data for the E60 - BMW M Registry - FAQ E60 + E61 M5

I wouldn't know any shops in that area, sorry.

Wow impressive, I would have been divorced by now if I spent this much time lol. Great job and inspiration for others thx.
Oh, don't go there. :grin I'm spending way too much time working on the car which is always a great way to start arguing with my gf.
I was pretty much going straight to the garage after my day job and wrench on the car until late hours, but I truly enjoy working on the damn thing as much as I like driving it. Thanks!

I don't drive much now during winter, but I think some of the things I've done are a must before taking the car out for a pleasant drive.

Nice pics and good work on the restore! You took a chance with the purchase, particularly with the vanos making noise. Glad it wasn't a more serious issue. Enjoy the beast!
Thank you! After reading the codes, I was confident I'm gonna be able to resolve it, but you're right, it could have taken a turn for worse.
M5 in the condition like this and such miles, I was willing to take a gamble. I just wish I made before/after video on changing the exhaust CPS because the difference was remarkable.

Pretty hard to beat a story surrounding traveling to Italy to buy an M5, sightseeing in Venice, and then having the M5 while living in Germany!

Thanks for the story and the pics. I read this on the other forum you had posted in but wasn’t a member so I couldn’t comment.

Glad to see this here!

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Haha, thank you, it truly was an enjoyable experience. Yup, I'm on ZHPMafia, had few of those cars and the company there is also great!

I had a similar trip to Italy not long ago when I bought an E31 850i with 6 speed manual and 68k miles in Turin. Unfortunately, that magnificent machine didn't stay with me for very long.

Regarding driving the M5 in Germany and Autobahn, I ripped through some amazing roads in California and Europe, but driving the M5 on the Autobahn is the most fun I had behind the wheel.

Here's a piece of action from the last summer when the best traffic sing in the world comes up.

 

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Fantastic post and congratulations! I'm glad this M5 fell into your hands and is being brought back to tip-top shape.
 
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