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2001 BMW E39 M5


It started with an M. Well, in fact, it started before the M but BMW’s Motorsport Department has a lot to answer for. In terms of automotive Cadbury’s goodness, it’s been responsible for some absolute crackers.

The E30 M cars were superlative, but the road cars really hit their sales stride in E39 form. They were modern, brutal and desirable. None more so than the M5.

Revealed at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show, its V8 engine was good for a nosebleed inducing 394bhp and 369lb ft of torque, which meant it was a proper road-burner. 0-62mph was devoured in 4.8 seconds and although top speed was restricted to 155mph, it was had the potential to hit 186mph. Dial down the madness a touch though and you could get five adults and luggage aboard; hooligan dads everywhere rejoiced its arrival.

Superbly designed suspension (alloy at the front and multi-link at the rear) and a limited-slip differential ensured that it hugged the road, whether on the high-speed school run or on trackside on the very most ragged of edges.

A September 2000 facelift saw the arrival of the iconic ‘Angel Eyes’, but the underlying formula wasn’t tampered with. There was no need… it was that good.

We sold a similar looking example last March for decent money, but that was a high mileage example. This one however, is an entirely different proposition.

Lofty words, but we feel that this is surely one of the very best remaining examples.

The Vehicle

The vendor Stuart has owned this lovely M5 since 2016. “It’s a really lovely car,” he says. “It’s got most, if not all, options, save for a tow-bar – why would you on an M5? The leather is top-spec ostrich leather and looks superb. For me, it’s the last of the proper nice BMWs.’

This example has lived a very cossetted life indeed, with just 3 owners from new. Its fully stamped service history came via BMW main dealers up until 2019, before its first independent specialist stamp. It has a current MOT certificate that runs until March 8, 2022.

“It has sensible mileage and has been well cared for and used, but not abused. I’d say it’s 10/10, as it is immaculate. I’ve just had the exterior ceramic coated and the interior, and under bonnet are both just as good. If you’re looking for an E39 and want the best out there, then this is it.”

Stuart is selling to free up some space in his collection, and that decision means very good news for E39 M5 fans.

On the Outside

C’est magnifique – wait, wrong language. Dast ist goot. Sorry, understatement this time. I’ll stick to English. It. Is. Simply. Superb. Our photographer came back from shooting the pictures and stated, “I did find at least one small scratch on it, I think.” Well his eyesight is better than mine, because this is a seriously impressive example.

The ceramic coated Moonstone paint is glorious. To our eye, this is the E39’s best hue; it accentuates its muscularity yet at the same time lends it a demure understated demeanour.

Add to that factory-quality panel fit, fade-free plastics and immaculate smoke grey alloy wheels and it’s a lovely exterior picture. Light lenses are without marks, remaining clear and there’s no delamination discernible on any of the glass. Each wheel is shod in a Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre and seems to have a decent amount of tread remaining.

Even the quad chrome tailpipes are without blemish. Flip the fuel filler flap and it’s eat-your-breakfast-off-it clean underneath. For us, that’s always a key indicator of whether a car is genuinely that good (as here) or if it’s just been given a quick Bob-squash (i.e. a good detailing) for sale.

As we said, superb.

On the Inside

Ostrich leather is expensive thanks to the time-sensitive and intricate process involved in making it. One thing’s for sure, it’s an addition that lends this cabin a distinctly high-end feel. The raised points on the crown of the hide give it a distinct look and it is supple in the extreme. Plonk yourself in the driver’s seat and the lateral support provided by the bolsters is simply stunning – your derriere is going nowhere, no matter how fruity your driving gets.

The BMW leather sports steering wheel remains in good fettle as is the gear lever, and the door cards and headlining are both clean. The pixels on the dashboard-mounted screen (a known issue in some examples) all work, as do all electrics including the sunroof.

Quibbles? The nearside edge of the dashboard and the glovebox both have some minor white scuff marks on them – a touch of restorative product should negate that; and the M5 badges and sill trims have a small amount of minor imperfections. Please be aware that this is nit picking in the extreme though, as it is superlatively tidy overall.

Best bit? While the ostrich leather is lovely, it must be the M-colour-stitching embossed steering wheel. It’s a thing of beauty and the perfect weapon with which to control the V8’s unbridled fury.


“It drives beautifully,” says Stuart. “It has so much power, yet it’s very smooth and just happy to cruise and burble away. And yet, when you need performance…”

We’ve had it here at our Abingdon headquarters for a little while and can second all his thoughts on the car. The V8 motor is a masterpiece; so much more joyous and subtle (yes subtle, despite circa 400bhp!) than the tricksy V10 that followed it, and the subsequent sledgehammer power delivery of later turbocharged units. Brakes are sharp, suspension taut and the gearchange is without issue. It’s just one superb, potent high-speed weapon. TR Triumphs are sometimes described as being ‘hairy-chested’ but pale into insignificance compared a car like this; it positively exudes hirsute manliness to the nth degree.

Pop the bonnet, and you’ll find a showroom fresh looking engine bay. Get down on your knees and look underneath and, a touch of road dirt aside, it all looks to be in very rude health.

History Highlights

Peruse the history file, and still nestling in their original leather wallet, you’ll find all the original hand and service books – which is lovely to have. Of course, it’s even better when the latter is full of reassuring stamps and this car’s certainly is.

It has an almost full BMW main dealer service history from new (its last was carried out recently by the vendor and the 2019 service by A1 Specialist Cars, of Herts). It’s not been serviced absolutely every year, but they have been carried out commensurate to mileage covered. As expected, the time periods between have become larger as usage has diminished – especially in recent years.

Invoices include: an outlay of £183.62 for a service at A1 German Car Specialist, Bucks on 03/05/19; another outlay of £1578.05 also at A1 German Car Specialist, Bucks on the 14/05/19. This included fitting of a new clutch and flywheel, as well as reparative works to a front parking sensor; one from Vines BMW Guildford dated 20/07/16 showing completion of the Inspection I service.

You’ll also find a comforting vehicle safety recall letter, which instigated the replacement of the driver’s airbag in 2017.

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of the paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained to the highest of standards.

We include an online HPI report run at the auction start which shows no finance outstanding and no insurance markers for theft or damage.

What We Think

Modern classics of the superior kind have been moving up in the last 12 months of the Covid era. The reserve isn’t low for this example – we think it’ll sell for somewhere between £26,000 and £35,000 – but this model is the king of a new breed of classic cars, and this example is simply outstanding.

There are certain phrases that auctioneers must always, at all costs, steer clear of stating; ‘rust-free’ and ’10 out of 10’ come immediately to mind. And yet… this car is likely as close to latter as you can get. It is tight, lovely and absolutely spot on.

If Carlsberg did M5s then it would most likely state that, “The E39 M5 is probably the best car in the world”. That’s because it did absolutely everything when new. It was the only car you ever needed. That was true then, and it still stands today.

We’ll refer you back to our closing words about this example in the Background section, above: “…this is surely one of the very best remaining examples.”

If you’ve always wanted an M5, then be in no doubt, this is the one to have.

Inspection is always encouraged (within Govt. guidelines of course), and this particular car is located with us at our HQ nar Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 65000
  • Engine: 5000
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: Silverstone Metallic.
  • Interior: Black

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