M5 ownership is a grand experience, even though it has been riddled with mistakes, hard work, and pure luck.
My name is Andrew, and I didn’t start out with my current M5, but rather another BMW: my mother’s 2003 E53 X5. It has the 3.0 liter M54 motor, and a religious service history from the dealer/independent specialists so I would never be let down. It took me until halfway through my senior year in high school and I was using the X5’s utility to the max. I was a three sport athlete, and also a volunteer fire fighter, so I was driving to-and-from practice, my home, and the fire house quite often. A plain soccer-mobile X5 was boring for a trending high school senior, so I started to modify it subtly. However, the interior got hit hard with my crazy hormones, and my style reflected that; I put plaid fabric over the wood trim, and vinyled my center console so all my friends could sign it. I also participated in two teen driving schools with the X5, one held by Audi Club of NJ, and one held by Tire Rack and BMWCCA called Tire Rack Street Survival. I took part in a 2-day teen driving school held by BMW at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC, where my X5 was also built.
I recommend these driving schools for any new driver, as I feel that these defensive driving courses have helped me understand how a car operates much better than an average teen driver. However, as nice as that SUV, I mean SAV in BMW terms, is, I wanted something more raw, and driver oriented. I was hooked on performance driving, such as autocross, and the X5 was limiting my driver-skill development.
Pure luck then hit. A driver ran into the side of my father’s 325xi, and I had the opportunity to hand back the X5 and get another vehicle. Then a mistake happened, and I leased up a 2012 Subaru Impreza. It was my first manual transmission car, looked good, had good specifications on paper, but actual ownership was a nightmare. It needed a transmission and front differential replaced after 500 miles, and it also had a hard-start issue that would occur randomly. Couple that with squeaky seat springs, a broken horn, and wind noise that made me think I was driving a cardboard box, the Subaru quickly qualified for Lemon Law, and it was gone. That still did not stop me from having fun with the car, and I participated in my first autocross with it.
When I got the green light that the Subaru was leaving, I figured I’d get another car that was even more performance oriented than the Impreza. I wanted a rear-wheel drive, manual transmission sedan with a limited-slip differential. So what fits those requirements while being <$15k? Easy, BMW made plenty of E30’s, E36’s, E34’s and other chassis’ with those specifications. One on that list was the E36 M3/4/5 and the E39 M5. I crossed off the M3/4/5 as the rarity of the car kept its values high, but a higher tech luxo-barge called the M5 did not keep it’s value at all. Depreciation is a bitch, and I reaped the benefits.
I searched Craigslist, Autotrader, Cars.com, eBay, and many BMW forums I frequented until I finally found my M5. It was a 2 month search, after viewing 3 other M5’s, a E36 318ti and an E46 M3. My specific M5 was listed on a BMW forum 2 months before I bought it with no bids, I was in fact the first person to see the car. I checked out the VIN, and it had no accidents and no options besides a rear spoiler delete (perfect, even more subtle than other M5s!) It came with some goodies such as a Blinder M47 laser jammer, Britalman cat-back exhaust and x-pipe, DICE iPod adapter, BMW roof racks, 16:9 widescreen navigation, and an extra set of ACS Type III rims.
The owner was knowledgeable about his M5, and told me outright that the car tool 1 qt. of oil every 1000 miles. Perfectly acceptable for an S62 motor with 127k miles. It also needed rear brakes, and brake pads were included in the sale. I also had to do front control arm bushings, and an alignment 500 miles after I got the car, but all of those repairs in total cost me less than $500. I’ve also paid for some rubber trim pieces around the windows to clean up the look, and that is the extent of the maintenance I have done so far. I mistakenly took off my Britalman exhaust system due to me thinking I could sell in this horrible economic climate, but now I’m keeping it and putting it back on when I have the time. As luck would have it, another easter egg this car gave me was the fact that it had the DVD-based MKIV navigation from the ’03 models, which is a $500 computer and much more advanced than the MKII that came with my ’00 model. It is now due for a chain tensioner and thermostat and both parts cost me <$120. I will DIY them when I return home from school.
With such a high performance machine, I intended to use it to its fullest. Of course, I couldn’t use 400HP on the streets, so I started to autocross my beast. I went to NJBMWCCA, NNJR-SCCA, and SJR-SCCA events and had a blast throwing my 4000lb sedan around. I swear it handles 400lbs lighter than it is, and can keep up with some Mustang GT’s, even with my all-season tires. This car can do so much, as it can be as subtle as a 5 series, carry 5 people in comfort, and tear up the autocross track. It really does have two distinct personalities.
Now that I’m in college, I don’t want to bring the M5 with me. It stays under a car cover, hooked up to a battery tender, and will only wake up when I return on breaks. I’ve realized that I do need a car at school, so another chapter of car ownership may begin. Somebody call a doctor…I think I have serious car ADD.
– Andrew Chow
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- BMW Depreciation: E30 M3, E36 M3, E39 M5. Andrew’s Thoughts. - May 12, 2013
- Compromise – Updates with Andrew and His 2000 M5 - January 18, 2013