It's reviews like this that 1. Keeps me shelling out insurance premiums, and repairs for my little old e30, and 2. keeps me coming back to this site on a daily basis looking for reviews like this!
Great work! I hope to hear more from you as time passes :)
Hi, I just read your review and I agree with a previous comment. You should send a copy of it to the motoring mags because it is the best car review I have read like ever and they should give you a job!
Entertaining, well written article mate. Reads as an enteraining story, not a review. Are you a professional?
A very well written review indeed, this sort of writing would be a welcome addition to car magazines the world over.
Hi, I'm am going to buy a BMW 528 SE 1996 tomorrow, but prior to reading your review I was hesitant, thanks for the motivation. All I'm worried about now is working overtime to pay for the maintenance.
Excellent stuff. Had a E36 323i, sold it, bought an Alfa 164 Super 3.0 V6... and yesterday, threw caution and the wallet and a few years worth of savings to the wind, and went and acquired a '97 E39 523... :)
I will worry about where I am going to park both of them later. For the moment, I am lost at deciding what to drive to work... :)
Hi, it's Jonathan here, the original reviewer. Thanks very much for the appreciative comments. There's plainly no shortage of fun loving petrolheads out there!
It's now April 2011, and I'd like to offer an update. Some time after the review was written, I hit hard times.
Unable to stay afloat financially, I reluctantly put the car on Ebay. A mate called Matt had always liked the BM, and he made sure he submitted the winning bid.
This was painful, and I began to wish I'd sold it to someone at the opposite end of the country. Every time I met up with Matt, I'd see the car.
When he received the offer of a relative's Focus, I was glad that I'd kept track of the black BMW. Reader, I snatched it back. It's mine now, all road legal and working. If something painfully expensive goes wrong again, it can sit on the drive until I find the dosh to fix it.
Now with 297,000 on the clock, it's honestly still a car you'd get into and drive... just for the sheer sake of driving it. Maybe I've led a sheltered life, but I wouldn't apply that description too many other cars I've driven.
If people feel tempted, it's my perception that one can currently pick up these E39 BMWs in the UK for not much money, relative to the amount of fun you can have with them. The fact that fuel's around £1.30 per litre of unleaded is probably a contributing factor.
I reckon £500 buys you something tatty, £2000 buys something nice with maybe 120,000 miles on the clock and a reasonably respectable history, and the very late models on 2003 plates with the right spec (diesels and estates seem to carry a premium, rightly or wrongly) still seem to be pushing £3.5 to 4k on dealer forecourts.
The view on some of the fan sites is, I think, that the engine in mine - the 2.8 193 BHP unit - is probably the best from a driving dynamics point of view. I think there's a 2.5 litre petrol that's popular too. If I'm reading this right, people tend to feel the V8's overstep the indulgence line slightly; and that although nice, the smaller petrol units and maybe even the diesels don't necessarily save you enough in fuel consumption to justify avoiding the 2.8. I'd be interested in others' thoughts on engine choice.
It's interesting to compare them to the Merc E class. I'd say year for year, the used prices are reasonably similar. Now I've only ever driven an older E class, so I might be being unfair. It's probably a fine car, but I just don't think the same level of driving enjoyment was designed in.
The fact is, when I drive the 5 series, I find that I just cannot wipe the smile from my face when I hear that 'thug in a silk suit' roar from the straight six as the rev counter needle climbs. And my passengers become strangely quiet...