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BMW E39: Achieved


garethj

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I asked earlier, and everyone said it would be fine.  More correctly, some people said it would be terrible but I ignored them 👍

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I’ve been looking for an E39 diesel with manual gearbox for about two months now, they sold quite a lot of diesels back in the early 2000s but very few manuals.  As Junkman would point out, shifting your own gears is for the proles so why would someone pay forty grand and do it themselves?  I’m glad a few did, because the 525d auto does 44mpg extra urban while the manual does 53mpg.  Composite mpg is a similar difference of 35mpg for the auto and 42mpg for the manual.

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Other key specs are 135mph and 0-60 in just under 9 seconds.  Shall we do the jokes now?

The switches inside feel nice, the indicator switch feels almost unused.

It’s got a sort of adaptive cruise control in traffic, you just set it to 90 and when you come up behind other cars you just flash your lights.

Ah, that’s better.  As well as limiting my choice with a diesel manual, I also didn’t want one like this

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or this

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A shame, because many of them are tastefully* modified this way.

After a few false starts - one that was the most worn out that I’d ever seen a car be, another where the seller went silent, one where the seller would only reply to messages after 3 days and another with 16 previous owners (the car, not the owner), I found a possible candidate on the south coast, only 150 miles away.  Finish work an hour early and let’s go!

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My eldest very kindly gave me a lift there, and when he asked what playlist I wanted, replying “It’s your car, you choose” was, frankly, moronic of me.

Anyway, we got there and it looked good 

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The test drive showed up the usual clonking bushes and non-working a/c but otherwise good.  A few tiny blemishes on the end of one sill and one wheelarch but jacking points are solid and a pretty good MoT history too.

 I bought it and stopped for fuel

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And drove it back 150 miles in 2 1/2 hours, which was either motorway or roadworks, getting home at 11:30 last night.

I could do with replacing the clutch and dmf at some point but otherwise it’s good and drives nicely.  It’s ancient but inside is whisper-quiet, it’s the closest thing to a Lexus LS400 in that respect.

To sum up, it’s quite good.  To be continued…

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Well done, these are great when bought well. I bought a dog, twice, which is basically careless, and has tainted my view of them.

 If their neediness at this age has been kept on top of they are wonderful things.

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I'm not generally a fan of BMWs but the E39 really is just a great car and I really like them. Shame so many of the survivors, like with E36s, have been hit with the barry stick.

To my mind is still the best looking modern era BMW ever made - especially on the Style 37 "twin 5-spoke" wheels the Sports used to come with

Do these suffer with the same plastic water impellors as some other contemporary BMW diesels, or have they got a proper metal one?

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3 minutes ago, stuboy said:

looks very nice, do they come in 530d flavour?

They do, 195bhp instead of the 525’s 163 although the 525 responds well to a remap and gives just over 200bhp.

Earlier 525tds cars made about 120bhp I think.

There’s also a 520d but I’ve never seen one.  The 4 cylinder diesels don’t have a great reputation.

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They weren't even sold in the UK, thank God. I need to get my 528i back on the road, I just love driving it so much. The more cars I buy the more I realize what makes them so special.

Unfortunately, like most others, it suffers from crusty Jacking points now, which is a ££££ repair.

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On 5/31/2023 at 11:08 PM, garethj said:

Autoshite: like Pebble Beach only stricter🙁

*looks for J reg Proton on E39 wheels* 

*finds 20p in handbrake*

*realises BMW wheels have been hammered over smaller Proton wheels* 

*has whipround for new tyres after car park straightener* 

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23 hours ago, stuboy said:

looks very nice, do they come in 530d flavour?

As a reformed 5 series perv I think early 530d E39's were 184 bhp with autos having swirl flaps but not the manuals, then after a couple of years 193bhp with swirl flaps for all. The 525tds E34 was 143 bhp so I assume it was the same in the early E39 525 tds before the 530d came along. E34 525 td was 120 ish bhp. I paid £500 for broken seedy 1999 530d estate manual and took it from 233k to to 270k before a cracked manifold was the end for me and it.

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54 minutes ago, Dave_Q said:

Was the 520d the 4 banger from the E36 318tds?

If so thats a special dedication to misery.

No, it's the later 4 banger as used in the e46. ~136 to 150 bhp depending on year.

Its still a 4 cylinder in a 5 series though, and as such, wrong.

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Posted (edited)

I’m 500 miles in, what have I learned?

There are two really enjoyable ways to drive this: like you’re chauffeuring your grandmother or like you’re aiming to beat the lesser mortals to the executive car park spot.

From idle to 2000 it is very smooth, but not very fast.  Trundle along sedately and it’s a lovely drive, easily pulling uphill at 1200rpm in 4th gear and you can snick it into 5th at just about 30mph (1000 rpm).

Unlike newer diesels it doesn’t have much boost below 2000rpm and only pulls strongly from 2500 which brings us to the other driving mode that suits it.  Anyone who refers to themselves as a helmsman will be disappointed; it’s a fairly heavy car at 1650kg and it’s not pin-sharp but if you drive it at about 80% of its limit, it flows really well.

Go just past peak power of 4000rpm then change up and all of a sudden you’re going very quickly indeed.  The fact it’s not a sports car is then in your favour as it’s smooth, relaxed and eating up the miles without effort.

As for this one, there was a small water hose leak that I’ve fixed, the aircon has been regassed (no leaks found) and it’s booked in next week for a new clutch and DMF.  I’ve also had it cleaned at the local hand car wash where an old BMW gets a lot of admiring looks😀

A mixture of 70mph motorways, 60mph commuting and trundling through London traffic is showing 52mpg on the trip computer, I’m hoping for a genuine 55 just commuting but we’ll see when I fill up.

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Edited by garethj
Picture of shiny car added
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6 hours ago, garethj said:

I’m 500 miles in, what have I learned?

There are two really enjoyable ways to drive this: like you’re chauffeuring your grandmother or like you’re aiming to beat the lesser mortals to the executive car park spot.

From idle to 2000 it is very smooth, but not very fast.  Trundle along sedately and it’s a lovely drive, easily pulling uphill at 1200rpm in 4th gear and you can snick it into 5th at just about 30mph (1000 rpm).

Unlike newer diesels it doesn’t have much boost below 2000rpm and only pulls strongly from 2500 which brings us to the other driving mode that suits it.  Anyone who refers to themselves as a helmsman will be disappointed; it’s a fairly heavy car at 1650kg and it’s not pin-sharp but if you drive it at about 80% of its limit, it flows really well.

Go just past peak power of 4000rpm then change up and all of a sudden you’re going very quickly indeed.  The fact it’s not a sports car is then in your favour as it’s smooth, relaxed and eating up the miles without effort.

As for this one, there was a small water hose leak that I’ve fixed, the aircon has been regassed (no leaks found) and it’s booked in next week for a new clutch and DMF.  I’ve also had it cleaned at the local hand car wash where an old BMW gets a lot of admiring looks😀

A mixture of 70mph motorways, 60mph commuting and trundling through London traffic is showing 52mpg on the trip computer, I’m hoping for a genuine 55 just commuting but we’ll see when I fill up.

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Same colour as my old one (530i manual). Loved that car and miss it much

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