Here in the spreadsheet-lined halls of Hagerty Insider, we pride ourselves as being the purveyors of price, the mavens of the market, and the viceroys of value. If we see a new thread developing in the collector car market, we tug on it with the full-force of Hagerty’s tower of data behind us. Case in point—among many other collector car trends, 2021 was looking to be the BMW E39 M5’s year. March 2021 saw a wrapper-fresh E39 trade for a stunning $199,990, followed by a string of low-mileage E39 M5s top around the $75,000 mark. Hey, thread? Yeah, consider yourself yanked.
Well, this week saw someone lose roughly $11,000 on their E39 M5 between two Bring a Trailer sales of the same car. Rare color combo, too. Huh.
Back in January 2021, BaT user “rjh6385” clocked in a winning bid of $50,000 on a 2002 BMW M5 with 89,000 miles on the odo. The car was presented well in rare Oxford Green Metallic II paint over a handsome Caramel Heritage leather interior, making it one of just 71 examples equipped as such sold in the States. RJH—may we call you RJH?—appeared ecstatic in the comments at the time of their victory. Why not? It’s a desirable driver’s car wearing special paint. Plus, it’s part of a species that’s seen a trend of high-visibility big-money sales that show no sign of slowing down.
Then just this week, RJH re-listed the Oxford Green M5 back on BaT, eventually selling for a winning bid of $39,000, some $11,000 off what it sold for almost a year prior. What the heck? Did we pull too hard? Did that thread unravel BMW’s ugly Christmas sweater?
Turns out, this sale is a perfect end-of-year reality check. First and foremost, it reminds us of the importance emotions can play in a big sale; “I was bidding against another guy and $42k was my top end, but I got swept away in the emotion of the deal and kept bidding,” RJH wrote in a comment on their own sale. “It’s a great car but hard to see, in my opinion, how it’s worth $50k with 90,000 miles.”
No victim blaming from us—we’ve all been there. As is oftentimes the case with offbeat color combinations, it’s sometimes just two people in the room bidding against each other. In this case, RJH’s opponent back in January was in the market for a well-kept BMW, with BaT user “Paul-Philip” going on to win a tidy 2002 BMW Z3 M Coupe just a month later. As we detailed earlier in the year, the format of online sales can fuel the gotta-have-it impulse and lead to outlier prices.
We’d have to agree with RJH’s assessment of his initial purchase being a bit, ah, overzealous. His bought-and-sold E39 was purchased in what we’d gauge from the photos and description to be in Hagerty Price Guide #3 (“driver”) condition, placing the average value right around the $38,800 mark, with Condition #4 falling to $19,700 and Condition #2 spiking to $73,500. Bought for a premium, sold for fair market value.
“Honestly, I overpaid for it back in January, and I’m very pleased with this result,” RJH wrote in another comment. Again, you’re far from the only one; as we detailed in our recent year-end wrap-up, a significant portion of bored buyers with cash to burn are purchasing more with heart than mind, especially with up-and-coming collectibles like the E39. There are big pricing gaps between public transactions of emerging classics still floundering in what we call the “discovery period.”
It’s tempting, especially in a bull market, to believe a handful of stunning sale results for exceptionally nice examples are now the new rule. That’s especially true since so many of those big prices dominate headlines. Yet that ignores all the tamer sales that didn’t get attention. “Nice car sold for what you’d expect it to” doesn’t make a compelling headline but it still, even in here in inflationary, pandemic-addled December 2021, is what happens more often than not.
RJH seems to have a great attitude about it. “Life’s too short to take this stuff too seriously,” they wrote. “So I lost 11k; don’t love it, but I accomplished my goal of getting the car sold this year.” Right on, our semi-anonymous friend. On the plus side, RJH’s already got the M5’s replacement on the way. On the sale page, they write of the 2022 Porsche Carrera 4S Cabriolet en route to their driveway. And the color?
Dark green over saddle-hued leather.