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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello M5 Board!

First of all, I consider myself a car enthusiast and not just someone looking for a "cool" car so that's something to take into consideration.

The BMW E39 M5, in my opinion, is the greatest saloon car BMW have ever produced thanks to the powerful S62 and looks that rival any modern car.

Over the last five months or so I've been looking at these cars and I've been getting to know the ins and outs of them including things to watch out for such as VANOS rattle and so on.

So I have two questions:

1) Would an E39 M5 be a good car to own as a first car?
2) What are the average maintenance costs providing nothing is catastrophically wrong with the car?

To be perfectly honest, I don't want to be one of those guys driving around in a 1.2 litre Vauxhall Corsa... :wroom:

Thanks.
 

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Welcome to the board.

For #1, probably not if you aren't already adept with a manual transmission. The other question is better answered by locals, but even then there is no general answer except: don't buy one without a rainy day fund.
 

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Let me make this short; dont buy M5 unless you have money as a rainy fund. Buy something less powerful for a first car.
 

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It's a bad idea as a first car, partly because it can be ultra dangerous in the wrong hands with all the power. But, mainly it's not a great fit since you're young and presumably don't need a roomy car, a much better idea would be to start with an e36 M3 or something. It's cheaper to maintain, and tons of fun too. M5's are great, but most of us would rather be driving a Porsche Turbo or something, but for practical reasons, we need a back seat :).

Even though I'm suggesting an alternative, I like where your head is. :wroom:
 

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I guess it depends on how old you are. If you're 30 and just never owned your own car, it's different than if you're 18. I suggest checking into insurance rates as I hear they are off the charts compared to the USA. Budget $5,000 for the first year and $3,000 per year after for PARTS, plus labor if you can't do things yourself. Then factor in gasoline cost... these are expensive cars to run and even more so in GB.

Even giving you a break, thinking maybe you are like I once was, I think it's a bad idea as a first car. Way too much HP. I did a lot of dumb things and got in trouble a few times with my 1985 Trans Am first with 220? HP and then with my "built" 327 with 310 flywheel HP.
 

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Welcome to the board.

For #1, probably not if you aren't already adept with a manual transmission. The other question is better answered by locals, but even then there is no general answer except: don't buy one without a rainy day fund.
Agree 100% with this one. Ive had my car about 2 1/2 years and the mantienance costs can add up pretty qucikly. Ive put more money into this beast then I care to admit but it was worth every penny to me.

And of course the past mantienance history of the car you are looking at will be the determining factor in how much cash outlay you will be looking to purchase. As Chowdah stated though, you need that rainy day fund.

Make sure you get a PPI done before purchase ifyou can, that way you will have at least a knowledge of possible future issues.

Good luck to you.
 

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I guess it depends on how old you are. If you're 30 and just never owned your own car, it's different than if you're 18. I suggest checking into insurance rates as I hear they are off the charts compared to the USA. Budget $5,000 for the first year and $3,000 per year after for PARTS, plus labor if you can't do things yourself. Then factor in gasoline cost... these are expensive cars to run and even more so in GB.

Even giving you a break, thinking maybe you are like I once was, I think it's a bad idea as a first car. Way too much HP. I did a lot of dumb things and got in trouble a few times with my 1985 Trans Am first with 220? HP and then with my "built" 327 with 310 flywheel HP.
Welcome the board! I agree completely with technician here. I'm sure you're a true enthusiast as many of us here were even before we could drive. You have excellent taste with regards to your statements about the M5, of course any of us here would agree with that.

That being said, I'd have to agree that cost and capability are two things that just don't make it the greatest vehicle to be someone's first car. To be totally honest I did a lot of foolish things behind the wheel when I was younger that I would never do today. I bought my M5 when I was 28 and even then sometimes drove it in ways that I never would now. At 35, I can truthfully say that putting an 18 year-old behind the wheel of a 400 hp car is akin to handing them a live grenade. Of course at 18 I would have insisted that was untrue and never taken that advice from anyone. Of course when I was 18 I never would have asked that opinion as you have so maybe you're already ahead of the curve with regards to maturity.

With that aside, or in the event that you're older and just never owned a car before, experience also comes into play a great deal. Handling a 400hp rear wheel drive car isn't like driving a golf cart. Knowing how RWD handles and responds vs FWD or AWD is something that is learned from driving and gaining experience. Knowing how your car will behave in dry, wet, snowy conditions, etc. They just aren't things you learn by reading about. You have to be behind the wheel to figure it out.

I won't get too far into cost except to say that I'm assuming since this would be a first car it will be your daily driver and you won't be buying a second car simultaneously to have while the M is down for maintenance/repairs. Expect it to cost even more than most of us will quote you for maintenance and repairs. Without having owned a few more basic and simple vehicles before this and having gained experience from wrenching on them you should assume that you'll be initially paying labor for everything so someone else can do it for you. Remember just because the purchase price of these vehicles has gone down significantly over a decade and a half they started out as $80+ automobiles and still require the maintenance of one. I was lucky enough to have had extensive experience with working on cars before I acquired my M. Had I not, the cost of ownership would have been more than I could have afforded at the time I bought it.
 
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Welcome to the M5board! I have to agree as well that the M5 can get you into hot water fast with its power as a first car. Yeah it might not be putting down 600 hp, but it is still much more capable than 90% of the vehicles on the road. Maintenance costs can also discourage first time owners. I would recommend researching a bit more and finding a well-maintained example.
 
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Duncan.
Buy something else until you have saved enough funds to buy a good E39 M5.

In that time you'll have earned a few years No Claims Discount so the insurance costs of the Beast will become less unreasonable. If this is your first car and you're under 25 it may be that your annual insurance premium will be very close to the value of your desired M5. A Glasgow postcode may well make it very difficult (or impossible) for any insurance company to offer you cover of any sort at all given your age (under 25?)

I posted some stuff about this on Pistonheads recently but if you're looking for an entry level E39 M5 (circa £5-6k) you may have to spend big on it to ensure reliability. Hey, just replacing routine stuff like all the brake rotors and pads with OEM stuff your empty your wallet of £750! Budget an average of £150 per corner for good tyres, too. Bottom end of the market cars are cheap for a reason though you may get lucky....hope for the best but plan for the worst. An unexpected ££££ bill is not outside the bounds of possibility.

Mid-market cars up to circa £11-12k are likely to be better buys - though there are quite a few madly optimistic over-priced cars in this sector - and these will probably have had quite a few of common M5 issues attended to by enthusiast owners.

'Top money', very low mileage cars up to £30k are available but it's unlikely these will be of interest to you.

Do yourself a favour, buy that asthmatic Corsa and simmer your MPower dreams for a few years. A car you seriously can't afford to buy/run/insure (but kid yourself that you can) will ruin/kill your enjoyment of these uber saloons.

Just my 2 cents....
 

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I think we need more details on the OP, particularly in the age department.

I'll leave experience out of it as this has been covered, and there are plenty of reasons why a young driver may have good skills before being old enough to get a license.

However, if you're <20 yrs young then you have little chance with regards to insurance in the UK. There are firms out there beyond the mainstream that'll do it for you (think footballers & celebs), but you'll be paying more for cover than you will for the vehicle. Youngsters don't drive around in that 1.2l Corsa because it was their first choice of car. I tootled about in a 998cc 1983 Mini at 17 for 3 years; the first years insurance was £1300, and that was in 1999. At 23 with 5 years NCB and no claims I tried to insure a 1986 E28 M535i; the cheapest quote was £1700.

If all of the above is irrelevant, then I'd be tempted to find a smart 530i manual to begin with. Superb engine but a little easier on the wallet and a good introduction to RWD and E39 ownership :M5launch:
 

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op, how many miles do you have under your belt and how much play money do you set aside per year? I had 300000 miles on my license and $3000 budget when I first got my 5, I was neither prepared for the skills to properly pilot the car nor maintain it to close to perfection.
 
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If the M5 had been my first car, neither I or the car would be here to-day..Seriously, either a fairly healthy wallet, or a real good set of tools are almost a must.
 

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Some really great advice and insight in this thread!

To the OP: I think you have to really consider why it is you want an M5, and then figure out what is practical for you and what the car will be used for. It is a LOT of car: lots of power, lots of fun...lots of gas, lots of maintenance and a lot to insure.

To use myself as an example, my first car was a 1993 Honda Civic Si...a 2 door hatchback with a 5 speed manual. Several of my friends bought mid-80s 3 series, and every winter I would drive by them stuck in the snow (and I didn't even have to buy snow tires). Not to mention that the civic could keep up with them in most situations, got better gas mileage and cost less to insure. I made the practical decision, and it was the better one in hindsight.

Fast forward to now, I have worked my butt off for years and have my dream low mileage Beast. It took me 2 years to find her, but the wait was worth it to find exactly what I was looking for. And the waiting made me appreciate it even more:wroom:

Depending on your driving experience and needs, there are many fine examples by BMW that will suit pretty much whatever you might need. I also have a 2007 e92 328xi coupe and it has been bulletproof to this point and is a blast to drive. Not much power as the M5 obviously, but great driving dynamics, overall performance and highly practical.

Good luck on your decision:cheers:
 
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I think we need more details on the OP, particularly in the age department.

I'll leave experience out of it as this has been covered, and there are plenty of reasons why a young driver may have good skills before being old enough to get a license.

However, if you're <20 yrs young then you have little chance with regards to insurance in the UK. There are firms out there beyond the mainstream that'll do it for you (think footballers & celebs), but you'll be paying more for cover than you will for the vehicle. Youngsters don't drive around in that 1.2l Corsa because it was their first choice of car. I tootled about in a 998cc 1983 Mini at 17 for 3 years; the first years insurance was £1300, and that was in 1999. At 23 with 5 years NCB and no claims I tried to insure a 1986 E28 M535i; the cheapest quote was £1700.

If all of the above is irrelevant, then I'd be tempted to find a smart 530i manual to begin with. Superb engine but a little easier on the wallet and a good introduction to RWD and E39 ownership :M5launch:
Well I'm 20 years old and it's only been within the last half a year or so that I've been looking at cars that I would potentially want to own. I'd mainly be using my car to get to and from university and to have a more enjoyable experience travelling to places, rather than using the train or being driven all the time.

I definitely take on board what each and every one of you have said and I greatly appreciate all of your input.

With regards to insurance costs (I haven't actually had a proper quote yet), it's a given that a 20 year old with a ~400HP car isn't going to be cheap especially in the UK and where I am specifically in Glasgow. :(

I guess one of the main reasons that I want a "non-everyday, run of the mill" car is becuase I would rather have a car I love and keep it for many years opposed to having a less powerful car and not really be that enthralled with it.

I think, being realistic, DepthHoar probably has the right idea. Get a normal, less powerful car, build up my NCB and then after a few years think about getting an M. Eventhough it hurts!
 

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Hi Duncan,

Some excellent advice and insight in the responses so far and overall, I'd very much agree with those. In addition, none of us know your financial position or your background etc so certainly from my perspective which I suspect is along the same lines as the other responders, we are drawing conclusions somewhat from what you've typed/mentioned so far.

A BMW M5 is not an ideal car for you at all given your age, likely experience level, the sheer capability of the car as well as the various aspects of the financials. An M5 to commute from student digs/home to university is simply going to cost you X% significantly more in fuel, just for pootling at rush hour speeds. You aren't going to learn about the car for commuting to university.

The next thing you need to do is call up various, actually as many as you can insurance companies and see if any of them will actually insure you. I suspect, many won't offer cover until you are either 21 or 25 and if they do, the costs are likely to be extremely high indeed - I'd hazard a guess at perhaps £5000+ per year. The only 'good' thing recently is that insurance rates in general have come down in the last year or so from some rather stupid levels 3-4 years ago. Still, a group 20 insurance rated car for a 20 year old in the Glasgow area is going to be as above! You then need to factor in the cost of petrol and then keep perhaps £2000 per year for maintenance items as well as for any bigger bill items which may go wrong.

As mentioned previously, if you do have the funds to pay for it all, then by all means go ahead. That then leads on to the points raised already, in so much a very fast car in the hands of a relatively inexperienced driver significantly increases the risk that someday, something will go wrong and the potential consequences are on the extremely dangerous/fatal kinds of levels. My advice is as mentioned, get yourself into a small(er) car, one that's much cheaper to run in all aspects and over the next 2-4 years, build up no claims AND your driving awareness and skills and then perhaps consider jumping to an M5. I go to many local car shows and meets and indeed, there are similar aged enthusiasts as yourself, one such enthusiast who at 19 has his E36 M3 GT2 and (did have) an E39 530d for his commuting car. A couple years ago, I recall he mentioned insurance for the M3 was around £3500-4000 for the year and insurance for the E39 530d was around the £2400 or so level. Perhaps with insurance rates coming down a little you could get slightly lower premiums? - you'll need to ring around plenty of places still for perhaps an E39 530i.

If it's a BMW you want, I'd say look to an E46 variant - perhaps a 320i in order to get a 6 cylinder engine. The Earlier E36 will be even cheaper still and a 325i could perhaps be on the cards for you. As for non BMW cars, you'll need to evaluate what you like and then ring around all those insurance places to see how much the actual quotes are.

Please update here with whichever way you go !

Cheers, Dennis!
 
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If the horse hasn't been beaten enough, I will hit it a few more times.

An e39 M5 is a very powerful and quick piece of machinery. Things can get out of hand, and quickly if you incorrectly judge the situation. I am very happy that I had several years of experience under my belt before getting into such a powerful car. And even at that I have screwed up pretty badly a few times with the M5, some how I have managed not to get in any accidents or screw anything up.

My first car was a 1999 Oldsmobile 88, I still own it to this day. Ever since I got my license at 17 I have driven that car like I stole it, almost on every drive at some point. It is not super fast, and it handles worse then a pig on stilts, however it was very predictable and was extremely hard to get out of control. I am glad that I got most of the stupid stuff out of me with that car. I bought the M5 last fall at age 22, I was looking for a manual 90s BMW and that is what popped up. An e39 M5 was a dream car of mine and I could afford it so I bought it. It has been wonderful to own and I have done some dumb stuff with it. I am starting to settle down I think and learning to enjoy it for what it is, a powerful luxury car that can move very swiftly when wanted. I am not one to go flogging a car around a corner any more.

I would strongly advise buying something a bit more tame as your first car. It can be unique and handle well, but 400hp is a heck of a lot to handle, especially when you turn of the traction control. Plus buying a lower spec car now will heighten your anticipation for the M5 when you do buy one. I know it was one heck of a great day for me when I realized I didn't have to drive my 200hp Oldsmobile to work every day.
 

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Although your mind is made up, and you will get an E39 M5 as a first car, it is not a good idea. Running costs and the vast amount of power is not a good idea for a first timer. I've been through this argument numerous times in the E60 forum and that car is even more stupid in the hands of a first timer. Get yourself an E39 530 and get to know the car. Then start looking for an M5 when you're able to handle it. At 16, 17, 18 - it is not the right car. Heck at 16 I was happy as a pig in ****e with an '87 Toyota 4x4 5 speed manual with a 22 re 4 banger. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I had an E39 M5 and before that I cut my teeth on a '96 Cobra.
 

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Not a good idea at all.
 
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Same input as the others about age, rainy day fund, etc.

My addition to the list is to own other cars first and learn to drive a BMW and appreciate what an E39 M5 is all about. My first BMW (at 29) was an E46 (still own) and I learned to handle the car and enjoy the drive only a BMW can deliver (not much power though as a 328i, so hard to get into too much trouble). Now I have a good rainy day fund in place and now need can appreciate the E39 M5 for what it is. That being said, I need to learn to re-drive a bit as handling this kind of power is a whole different ballgame (read: easy to get yourself into trouble with DSC off).

Best of luck to you. You certainly have great taste in cars!
 
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