Sale of the Week

E39 M5s may be even hotter than we thought

by Alex Sommers
25 March 2021 2 min read

The digital ink reading “NEW ARRIVAL” on the 2003 BMW M5’s online listing was barely dry when a “SOLD” banner took its place. Someone out there clicked on the 3157-mile M5, one from the final year of production for the vaunted E39 generation, and shelled out $199,990 to become its second owner. If that strikes you as a bit steep, you aren’t alone. It’s nearly double the current #1 (concours, or best-in-the-world) value of $108,000 in the Hagerty Price Guide.

For the uninitiated, the E39 M5 is the one that brought V-8 power to the BMW 5-series for the first time. Its 394 horsepower from 4.9 naturally aspirated liters was herculean when it was unveiled to a world that still had 350-hp Corvettes and 260-hp Mustang GTs, but the E39 M5’s lasting appeal goes well beyond raw numbers. Even after 21 years of automotive progress, many consider it to be a high-water mark in both style and driver engagement for both BMW and sports sedans in general. Now that even the newest examples are now old enough to vote and with unmolested, low-mileage examples getting harder to find, the E39 is firmly in modern collector car territory.

Like many of the cleanest BMW M cars on the market at any given time, the E39 in question sold through Enthusiast Auto Group (EAG) in Cincinnati, Ohio. EAG touted it as the bar by which all other E39 M5s should be judged, and—even keeping in mind that they were trying to sell this car—their assessment seems fair enough. Presented in Carbon Black over two-tone Silverstone sport leather with a six-speed manual transmission, no modifications of any kind, a four-figure odometer reading, the M5 is certainly a top-quality car deserving of a top-dollar price. The M5 was also a recipient of a thorough going over by EAG. As we noted in our story on outliers last week, the imprimatur of a respected dealer is often worth a considerable premium to buyers. But 200 grand is enough to leave us wondering if that’s really where the market is for these cars, even if M5s are the next big thing.

That’s the $200,000 question. If you were let loose with $200,000 to spend on a BMW, would you be content leaving with one set of keys? There are other perfectly good E39 M5s asking less than half that amount, which leaves enough cash to pick nearly anything else off the showroom floor to take home, too. It could be an E24 M6, a Clown Shoe M Coupe, even a stick-shift Lime Rock M3 in that second parking space. Or is owning a top notch E39 M5, possibly the best one in the country, worth it all? On which side of the $200,000 fence do you find yourself?

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  • C. Steve Later says:

    What will my 2000 BMW 540i with 168.000 miles fetch. It looks the same as the M5 but I bought it for a beghal and a sausage?

  • Benjamin Shahrabani says:

    Wasn’t the 540 the car that brought v8 power to the e39 for the first time?

    • John Wiley says:

      The E34 generation, which was the predecessor of the E39 5-series, had both a 540i and 530i (V8s). Some consider the 540i M-Sport E34 generation car to be better than the E34 M5 (inline 6-cylinder), which had a little more HP but less torque.

  • allan eric klein says:

    Fantastic condition BUT, with such few miles on it the first owner never really drove it like it was intended to be done. Buyer was well heeled enough to out-flank his/her rivals BUT, will he/she put it in a plastic bubble then shut the garage doors and wait another 18 years in the hopes of selling it to another “collector”? Kind of like George Lucas suspending then re-introducing Hans Solo years later.

  • bmews says:

    All things considered, I’d rather have one of the very top 850CSi’s for this kind of money.

  • Chris Harriman says:

    What does this say for the future value of the Z8 which had the same engine as the M5?

  • Ton Reineking says:

    E34 M540i was the first 4l V8 in my opinion. 288 hp and all the stuff from the M5. 1994. #32 in British Racing Green was mine!

  • Brian Aust says:

    I’ve bought a 37k ‘94 850CSi, a ‘95 540i MSport, and a Euro 103km 3.8 ‘93 M5, and an ‘85 Euro 5 speed 635CSi..All within the last 5 years, and spent about the same total as for this M5. And all of them are as pristine as can be. Driving any of them isn’t going to hurt the value and it’s exactly the group I’ll drive from now till I’m in the ground. I do t think I’ll put enough miles on any one to make it’s value go down.

    Yes I think $200k is too much but there are always collectors who are at a whole ‘nuther level than I am, haha..

  • Hoosein Moolla says:

    I have a RHD 2000 BMW E39 M5 in Imolarot with Heritage black leather, approximately 150000km. Vehicle is in concourse condition and only one of two in the world. What would the value be?


    Beautiful one!! I have a black 2002 E39 M5 and is a spectacular beauty in my garage. Despite having bought, sold and still have Ferrraris, BMW and Porsches, this M5 I never sold and never will. It is an elegant Ferrari with 4 doors with its own german elegance, speed, leather and sound.

    LOVE IT!

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