Colton’s 2001 BMW 540i/6 Information

540_Driveway1On Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 5:08 AM I turned the key to the first ignition slot on what would turn into one of the biggest decisions of my life thus far.

Let me start from the beginning.  I’ve always been interested in automobiles, ever since I was a young boy.  I was the boy who had a box full of matchbox cars which I would drive around on the floor for hours imagining different scenarios.  I had quite the imagination.  As I grew older, I started to lean towards Ford trucks, mainly because my father had purchased a 2002 F-150 Super-crew.  That truck was all I knew as far as vehicles were concerned, that was until I met a friend of mine:  Ryan Schultz.

It was early 2010 when I decided to buy an Asus display.  I searched YouTube for reviews of similar displays, and discovered a channel called “JamesRSchultz“.  I watched a few videos, enjoyed them, and decided to message the owner of the channel.  This owner happened to be my present-day good friend Ryan.  Ryan and I had similar goals on YouTube.  We both wanted to get our message out to the community about the technology we enjoyed working with.  We partnered up, and eventually worked together on a website called

James purchased his first car on Tuesday, July 27, 2010.  At the time I knew what a BMW was, but I knew absolutely nothing about the car.  I remember vividly joking about how “my future (at the time) F-250 could run over that little BMW and not feel it.” To this day I regret saying that.  For the following year I knew about the car, I had learned a good deal about it, but I didn’t know anything.

August 2011, 2:00 AM.  Amtrak station, Alliance, OH.  I had just arrived on the 2:00 AM Amtrak train coming from Washington, DC.  This was the first time I was going to meet Ryan in person.  Stepping off that train onto the platform on that chilly 50 degree night sits vividly in my mind.  Ryan and his friend Kennan were standing on the platform and waved me aside.  Kennan took my bag and we walked towards the M5 which was, at this point, roughly two hundred yards away.  Ryan opened the trunk, I put my bags in, and then got into the rear seat.

My first thought was that it smelled very nice, much like very high-quality leather.  At the time, Ryan didn’t know how to work his cooling system fully, so we had no defroster on the front windshield.  Kennan was wiping vigorously to keep the windshield clear of condensation.  I was leaning forward speaking to Kennan when Ryan decided to pass a slow moving vehicle on a two lane country road.  It was at this moment that I finally had a taste.  A taste of a powerful car.  It’s said that when a wild animal gets it’s first taste of blood,  it will always hunt for that same taste, that feeling.  I found out that it is very much the same for a car enthusiast at heart.  It was at that moment when I was thrown back into the driver’s side rear seat of that Silverstone Metallic M5 like I had never been thrown into a seat in any automobile, that I finally had an inkling of what my life would soon turn into.

For a week, I cruised around with Ryan in his home town of Hudson, OH.  I was slowly falling more in love with that car every day.  When I returned home, I remember feeling angry that I wouldn’t be able to have the feeling of a roaring V8 anymore.  I was hungry for that feeling, and I was prepared to do anything to get it.

At this point, as you can probably tell, I threw the idea of getting a truck out the window.  I decided I was going to get some type of BMW.

Over the ten months following, I had graduated high school, and had started a job working for Red Lobster in my home town of Baltimore, MD.  I had kept up with Ryan, but due to both of our busy schedules, we had started talking a bit less.  However, I was keeping up with his M5 very closely.

July 3rd, 2012.  I arrived in Cleveland, OH on a Southwest flight at roughly 1:00 PM EST.  I collected my various forms of baggage, and departed the baggage claim area nervous as could be.  I was beginning to sweat, and I had adrenaline rushing through my veins.  This was the first time I would see Ryan, Kennan, and the M5 in over ten months.  Ryan texted me telling me that he would be parked out directly south of the Southwest baggage claim.  I exited the airport, and started walking.  A minute later I spotted the M5.  It was parked behind a Crown Vic taxi.  I walked up behind the M5, tapped on the trunk, and it popped open.  I loaded in my luggage, walked around to the passenger side rear door, opened it up, and got in.

For the next ten days I cruised around Hudson, OH with at this point, both of my fairly good friends.  I had already fallen madly in love with the M5, but I fell deeper in love with it this time around.  I had a deeper passion for it, and this was only the beginning.  Ryan and I clay barred the M5 that week, and then detailed it using Zaino car-care products.  The car was looking immaculate.  Before this trip, I knew I wanted a more powerful E39, but it was during this trip that I finally decided that I wouldn’t settle for a 530i.  I was going with a V8.

Ryan and I had our differences for a few months.  We both became very busy, him with his classes at Kent State University, and me with work.  Now let’s get back to Thursday, September 6, 2012.

Earlier in the day, I had been browsing eBay Motors, per usual for me at the time.  I happened upon a certain car that sparked my interest.  It was unlike many of the cars I had previously found, as it was for a much lower price.  It was a 2001 BMW 540i/6 in Jet Black, located in Baltimore, MD.  There were, however, a few catches.  The car, for starters, had 226,000 miles on the odometer, and had a good bit of body damage.  I could immediately see the potential this vehicle had, but I wasn’t sure I was in a position to take on such a restoration.  I emailed Ryan and asked for his opinion.  He basically told me that it wasn’t worth my trouble and that “It looked as if someone had been transporting battery acid in the trunk.” Much like Ben Roethlisberger, I didn’t know that no meant no.  I continued to look at the car.  It haunted me like a sickening disease that entire day.  I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  I emailed Jason, the previous owner, that day about the car.  I asked many questions such as, was the body damage repairable, did the car have a clean title, and other general information about it that wasn’t included in the eBay listing.

After a few days of emailing back and forth about the car, we settled on a date for my father and I to go look at it in person, and test drive it.  On September 15, 2012, I arrived at Jason’s house in Baltimore at 6:30 PM EST.  He recognized me, and handed me the keys.  He walked his dogs back into his house, and didn’t come out for around two minutes.  In those two minutes, I failed to figure out how to unlock the car, but I did get to spend the first two minutes alone with her to collect my thoughts.  We proceeded to look her over, and then we decided to take her for a test drive.  At the time, I was on a learner’s permit, and hadn’t the slightest idea of how to drive a manual automobile, so my father drove.  I will never forget the first time I was in that car and all eight cylinders were filled with fuel.  The 300 horsepower M62TUB44 punched me back into my seat.  In layman’s terms, my father accelerated, hard.  It sounded almost exactly like Ryan’s M5, it was Jet Black, it was German, and it was a manual.  I knew at that instant that I would own that car.  We parked the car in a nearby parking lot, Jason walked back to his house, and my father and I looked the car over.  I admittedly missed a lot about it, but I also learned a lot about it in the next fifteen minutes.  This was the first time I ever had sat in the driver’s seat of a running BMW.  The only time prior to this moment was when I had helped Ryan push in his brake pedal once.  I tried to play it cool when Jason returned, but I could see it in his eye.  He knew I wanted it.  Like any smart man, I told him I was interested, but needed some time to think it over.  I told him that I would call him that evening.

I rushed home and immediately called up Ryan.  We talked for several hours while I walked all around my neighborhood.  Pacing up and down my street, preparing myself to make the biggest purchase of my life so far.  Minutes before I called Jason, Ryan added our friends Kennan and Robert into the call.  They all muted themselves, and I dialed Jason’s number.

When I called up Jason, I offered him $3,500.  He sounded like he was tempted to take it, but there was a problem.  An hour earlier the Ebay auction had ended, and someone in Arizona had placed a bid for $3,800.  When he told me this, my heart hit the floor and shattered into what felt like one thousand tiny shards of glass, cutting up my abdomen from the inside out.  I took a deep breath, and offered him $3,600, closely followed by me calmly telling him that I was a sure buy and that he had no proof the Ebay auction would ever come through, not to mention shipping costs.  There was a pause for roughly three seconds, and then my life changed forever.  He told me that he could do that, and that we had a deal.

The following Saturday, September 15, 2012, was the date we set up for me to pick her up.  That day started out with me heading into downtown Baltimore for MPact East.  I left MPact at around 1:00 and headed for Jason’s house.  I arrived some 15 minutes later.  A bit of time, some paperwork, and a few handshakes later, she was mine.  Again, my father drove her the 20-minute drive back to our house, and I was impressed at how she handled everything he threw at her.  Keep in mind that he in no way pushed the car except for that one time on the test drive.  This drive home was a walk in the park for her.  He backed her into the driveway, and I took the first picture I ever took of her.


It is now Friday, March 22, 2013 as of writing this and I can say without question that I am becoming closer to her by the day.  Below is a timeline of everything I have done since obtaining ownership of this phenomenal automobile.

In the first month of ownership, I did a few minor things to the car, such as retrofitting an illuminated M5 shift knob, as well as an M5 steering wheel.

IMG_0006IMG_0011IMG_0018IMG_0020After my first wash, I conducted the first official photo-shoot during my ownership.

IMG_0041IMG_0037After this, I started to get into a few more major things such as suspension work.  I installed Billstein Sports and a new control arm in the rear.

IMG_0054IMG_0055IMG_0056IMG_0063I then replaced all of my power steering lines, and updated a few cosmetic things such as adding Titanium gauge rings, and an ///M license plate frame.



The following two tabs change content below.

Colton Frey

Latest posts by Colton Frey (see all)

11 thoughts on “Colton’s 2001 BMW 540i/6 Information

  1. Hey man, I recently acquired a really similar car. 2003 E39 m62tu 6 speed.
    And I have a couple of questions
    1. Did you have to service the oil lines leaks at the driver side engine mount bracket?
    mine is leaking, and I researched quite a bit, and still have not found a good DIY

    2. my third gear is grinding. Did you ever have any service experience with the manual gearbox?
    I researched quite a bit on this as well, and found out most people commented it as unserviceable.

    • 1. Are you referring to the oil filter housing lines? They are prone to leaking and should be replaced when they do start leaking. Just a few hoses that feed and depart the oil filter. Never done them myself, but there should be DIYs on M5Board or other forums.
      2. The manual gearbox is serviceable. Grinding comes from worn out synchros, what smooth the shift into gears. They help get the engine speed (RPM) to match the new gear. If you’re a fluid manual driver, you should be able to manually prepare the engine speed by letting it fall in time or manually revving for downshifts to avoid wear on the synchros. But, who knows what previous owners have done with your car. The synchros themselves are not that expensive at all, and it would pay to replace all of them at once. The problem is, the transmission needs to be removed and opened up. The labor for this job is pretty high. I haven’t had any experience with this myself. I got lucky with my 2000 M5 (188,500 miles now) that all of it’s previous drivers have driven it very well, so I have no grind whatsoever.

      Hope this helped.

      Ryan Schultz

  2. Pingback: BMW E39 SIRIUS XM, AUX Input, BM53 Radio Retrofit DIY | BMW E39Source

  3. Where are you guys at in Baltimore? I’m in monkton. Have had an e39 530 since 2006 and in the process of finishing up a 1997 540i. Heads decked, timing chain tensioner replacement. Would love to meet up sometime.
    Shoot me an email
    Chad Lovett

  4. Hey Colton I have a 1998 E39 BMW 540i and is It’s possible To upgrade from the radio To navigation? It has a 6CD changer, a Cassette tape and DSP.

    • It is possible. You’ll need all of the wiring harnesses and hardware (computer + display) plus a power source. It’ll be expensive, and you’ll have to take the seats and carpet out to run the wires.

        • I’ll tell you what I know. Buy a computer (MKI-MKIV, MKIV if possible) and a display (4:3 or 16:9, 16:9 is better) and all of the wiring harnesses. You need the blue and purple data and power wires that go between both of the parts, and then somewhere that plugs into the car’s power and amp. I have never done this, so I don’t know specifically which cables you need. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *