6-Speed Manual: 2002 BMW 540i M-Sport

The BMW 540i wasn’t the fastest of the E39 generation 5-series, but the V8 powered machine came awfully close to dethroning its big brother, the infamous tire shredding M5. The 540i M-Sport won’t be a maniac like the M5, but it’ll cost less to buy, maintain, and insure, which isn’t a bad thing. Find this 2002 BMW 540i M-Sport offered for $13,500 in Irvine, CA via dinanface marketmerc.

From the seller:

2002 BMW series 5
Listed a week ago in Irvine, CA
About This Vehicle
Driven 237,000 miles
Manual transmission
Exterior color: Grey · Interior color: Black
Fuel type: Gasoline
Good condition
Clean title
This vehicle has no significant damage or problems.

Seller’s Description
Up for sale is my 2002 6-spd manual BMW 540i M-Sport Dinan Stage 5.

What a mouthful, but also what a car. Some people call the E30 God’s Chariot. This is what God would drive if he had a business lunch at 2pm and wanted to take the scenic route.

It currently shows 237k and rising, albeit slowly, I do not have a long commute and typically use this car for errands or the occasional therapeutic drive (8-cylinders and a manual have that effect). If this makes you nervous, read up on the M62TU engine reliability, and it’s known failure points which are easily preventable. Those issues are addressed on this example.

If I did not have to sell this car, I wouldn’t. However it is simply so, so good that I purchased a 2002 M5 knowing that I want this chassis in my life decades into the future. If I could have both E39’s and my marriage, I would, but my wife was gracious enough to green light the M5 (even she likes em’!) so the second car will need to be more suited to dog and MTB hauling duties.

Back to the car.

The M-Sport package was technically only available from BMW as a final model-year send off in 2003 to the best of my knowledge, but this car has all of those bits installed which includes the:

M door sills,

M-Sport steering wheel,

Weighted ZHP M shift knob,

M5 front/rear bumpers

M-Parallel wheels

I have also added alcantara M-stitch shift boot and e-brake boots, which compliment the interior nicely.

This car has all of the Dinan Stage 5 components or same spec (Turner Motorsports intake vs Dinan).

Dinan aluminum pedals

Dinan exhaust w/resonator delete (passes smog)

Dinan throttle body

Dinan Stage 5 tune

Dinan Springs

Dinan (Koni Yellow) Shocks

I purchased this car about 4-5 months ago with the goal of making it my daily/cruiser. I’ve always loved V8’s and a manual, the styling is timeless, plus the low cost of the car. So this ticked all the boxes for me. I was and am unconcerned about the mileage, because when a handful of mechanical points are addressed in these M62TU V8’s preventatively, these engines have extreme longevity and have gathered love in the community because of it. The former owner is probably reading this thread going “what the hell?”

Well buddy, you sold me a 540i so good I went out and bought the M5 like an idiot. Now to keep my marriage I’m making this ad.

The car has been well mechanically-loved and maintained which included:

Timing chain

Timing chain guides

Vanos rebuild

Lower temperature OEM thermostat

Full cooling system overhaul



The interior features potentially the greatest OEM seating configuration of all time, which is the E38 Sport Contour seats with E66 Comfort headrests. The driver’s side heated seat does not work, and the seat bottom was reupholstered. It is possible the seats came out of separate 7-series examples to source a complete set.

Overall, when I took delivery visually the car was in need of work, so I set about refreshing most everything I could, that includes

Replace windshield (growing crack)

Replace center and side windshield cowling

Replace center console storage tray w/ sliding door

Replace center armrest storage bin

Replace all four rubber door handle stops

Replace headlight lens cover w/ amber corner swap

Replace cabin air filters

Replaced left fog light bulb

Touch up paint where possible, car shows signs of its highway mileage

Split key fob, solder new battery in, re-seal fob. This means you have a working key and don’t need to spend $300 on one

Re-pair key to car

Replace key BMW roundel, yellowed

Dinan exhaust tip dremel polish (can see Dinan logo!)

Broken cup holder replacement

Center storage tray + cigarette lighter replacement

Alcantara shift + handbrake boots

Resealed vapor barriers in door cards (car is completely waterproof)

Re-painted peeling/bubbling window trim

Replaced trunk release handle

Replace third brake light bulb + socket

Replace f/r turn signal bulb

White lithium greased door striker plates + latch mechanism (car is quiet entering steep driveways where it may experience chassis flex)

Re-align doors after age-sag

New Bosch Windshield wipers blades

Replaced Washer fluid pump

Replace all washer fluid lines

Re-connected and unclogged sunroof drain ports

Repaired non-functioning sunroof (retraction and tilt fully function)

The oil was changed recently at SSR Performance at 236,500 miles with regular 5w-40 Liqui Moly, and the Oil Level sensor was replaced. Oil is being changed at roughly 3,500 mile intervals.

Other modifications include a 10” Kenwood trunk sub mated to a Pioneer head unit with hands free Bluetooth connectivity and a hidden USB charging cable port.

A/C blow ICE cold, and I mean ice cold. It has 16 levels of AC strength, I leave the temps set to 69f (nice) and when I click the A/C button on and let it blow for a minute on level two or three, the car is perfectly cool from any temeprature. In fact, the AC is better than it was in my 2020 Ram Rebel, or my wife’s current model Mazda CX5.

Original tan headliner was sagging and dirty, all headliner re-adhered and dyed black, tan trim was dyed/painted black. Looks like an M5 headliner without thousands spent.

As mentioned, full Dinan suspension (Dinan springs + Dinan [Koni]yellow shocks) this suspension setup handles better than the E39 M5 I just took delivery of. As soon as I figure out how to hide it from my wife a full set of this suspension is going on my M5. It’s the most comfortable lowered car I’ve ever owned, and makes the car drive the way every YouTube E39 review you’ve ever watched says it does.

The negatives that I have not yet gotten to addressing:

M-Parallel’s: the wheels are stunning and fitment divine, but a previous owner made love to a curb or two with them and was not good about taking care of the finnicky finish. Therefore they are in need of a re-finish to be flawless. I have a quote for $950 to repair rash, confirm and repair any dents that can be found, and refinish all four wheels to OEM specification.

Gauge Cluster: Everything functions except for the dead pixels on the screen, it is extensive and about all that can be ready is the mileage (any pertinent warning lights can be seen with no issue should they arise). This is a $180 fix from BavTek, and if buyer would prefer, I can have this done prior to purchase.

Paint: the paint shows normal signs of wear for the mileage and age. It is not a solely garage kept example and a front-end respray with some paintless dent repair would make it absolutely stunning.

Once those few items are addressed, the car is flawless.

I love this car, truly. This is the most fun car I have ever owned.

So, if you’ve made it this far, please do not buy it. I love every time I get in it and find myself constantly looking excuses to drive it 1, 2, sometimes 3 times a day and row the gears. Rev-matching with the windows down is sublime.

As someone who now owns an E39 M5, the two cars are incredibly similar. Some people genuinely prefer the 540i due to the lighter curb weight. I once heard somebody refer to a well sorted 540i as 95% of the M5 with 30% of the cost. I’d reckon the first but is closer to 85-88%, but it rings true. Additionally, you get a full size spare, which you do not in an M5 😉

I will have better photos added to the listing soon after my photographer friends shoots the car, but for now I included a handful of iPhone camera roll shots to get the car posted.

Feel free to ask questions, I love talking about it, ask anyone who has known me the last 6 months. You can also schedule a time to come see it, we can go on a drive and get coffee. I’ll come back and tell my wife about how interested you are, then the deal just mysteriously fizzles out for some reason. From there, I get to go back to the ultimate dream which is two 6-speed V8 E39’s parked side-by-side in my possession.

It’s perfectly reasonable.

See a better way to drive a V8? tips@dailyturismo.com