BMW M cars are held in high regard with fans of the Bavarian based manufacturer, with many considering the E39 M5 as the greatest M Powered car of them all, but why all the hype?

It was unveiled at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show, sporting a 4.9 litre V8 with 394bhp, a huge increase on its predecessor, and came with one choice of gearbox – a six speed manual… perfect! It received a fantastic reception from motor enthusiasts and journalists alike upon launch in 1999, and production lasted four years. There were some tasteful cosmetic upgrades introduced to the range in 2001, including various tech improvements and those Angel Eye headlights we all love, with these examples being the most desirable today. Overall around 20,000 were produced making it one of the best-selling M5s to date, along with its successor the E60. Approximately 2,500 of those E39s reached UK shores.

The great thing about this supercar in disguise is that it can be used as an everyday family saloon too. Four doors, five seats and a perfectly acceptable amount of legroom and boot-space means you can pootle down to the shops on a Sunday morning, pick up your newspaper and some groceries, and if you fancy it, take the scenic route home, open the taps and blast it down some country lanes. Nobody would be any the wiser if it wasn’t for that incredible exhaust note and the subtle styling enhancements.

A very successful formula, but it’s quite sad that this is likely to be the last time we see a naturally aspirated V8 engine in an M5, and although the successor to the E39 came with a 5 litre NA V10, the current M5 (F10) is fitted with a 4.4 litre twin turbo. Great for fuel consumption, but it does also mean they have to pump fake engine noise through the speakers! But that’s all the more reason for us to cherish the E39 as a purebred driver’s car. It also comes from a time when electronic aids didn’t ruin the driving experience, just one more reason it’s so widely appreciated amongst enthusiasts.

Nowadays there are a few high mileage cars knocking around for under £10k, but low mileage examples are few and far between and are charged at a premium, with good reason. BMW M cars are traditionally rather expensive to run, and this is no exception.

So will this outrageous four door saloon one day become a future classic?

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  1. Richard 2 years ago

    Here, here

  2. jason 1 year ago

    hands down best in class for its era wish I hadn’t sold mine in 2010 to upgrade (if you would call it that) to a new Audi S4. A good friend has the V10 SMG M5 which I have driven a few times and would prefer the control and feel of my genuine(with clutch) Manual E39 anyday.

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