As an automotive enthusiast, I am never content with the M5. There will always be a car that is more comfortable, there will always be a car more reliable, there will always be a car that is faster, and there will always be a car that is just better. However, at the price point E39 M5’s are at, it is a great do-it-all car. And that is why I keep it around.
Cars depreciate. Luxury cars face that fate, and get hit with depreciation much harder than their Japanese competitors. This is exactly the case with the E39. What once was a $90k executive sedan is now a $12k bargain that any teen can ask for instead of their pre-owned Civic. On paper, they still perform well for a car that’s at least a decade old. The gas mileage isn’t horrible either, as you can expect 20 MPG on the highway. Car-people looking for a new car start to look towards the E39 M5 as a solution to a fast luxury sedan. Once these cars are bought at bargain-bin prices, the new owners quickly realize that the M5 is no budget auto, as the special Motorsport parts cost double the price of the already expensive BMW parts. And because the price to maintain a BMW breaks people’s wallets, there starts to be an influx of poorly maintained M5’s on Craigslist.
There are other BMW’s that have started to appreciate in value recently. One prime example is the E30 M3, but I am not old enough to fully appreciate the car, or know of it’s complete history. Another car I will talk about is the E36 M3, in both sedan and coupe forms. A few years ago, sellers had a hard time giving away their E36 M3 coupes for $7k; it was truly a buyer’s market. The car had hit rock bottom in depreciation, but that did not hurt it’s reputation as one of BMW’s iconic driver’s cars. Now, in 2013, buyers struggle to find a E36 M3 coupe for $7k with double the mileage compared to those found 4 years ago. Every well maintained M3 seems to want $9k+ and low mileage examples go for the low-teens. Now don’t even get me started on the sedan variant, as they were only made for two years, and are highly desirable. The sedan variant had better torsional rigidity, due to having a B-pillar, and it had rear doors, so it was more practical. I like to think of it as an E39 M5 precursor that was more performance oriented than luxury oriented.
Now, it dawned on me that I really want to try out an E36 M3. The M5 is a great daily driver, but I realized I don’t exactly need a car that is this refined. There is leather everywhere, including areas where you will never touch such as the steering column. And, running it is damn expensive. Sure, I DIY a lot on my M5, but buying tires, gas, and suspension components to get the M5 track-friendly is much more expensive than getting an E36 M3 prepared. However, I am faced with the dilemma that hit many E36 M3 owners a few years ago. I bought my M5 when depreciation hit an all-time-low, so should I wait for the M5 to appreciate again? I wonder, will the M5 follow the same path as the M3? After all, Jalopnik loves the E39 M5, Drive on Youtube also loves the M5, and countless BMW enthusiasts always compliment my M5 when they see it out on an autocross course.
I guess my only solution is to get in that driver’s seat and drive. Drive it hard. Will I miss the V8 song with 400HP? Or would I rather have a lighter car that rips my face off when going through corners? As the saying goes in my fraternity…”Life’s so hard.”
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