German Frankincense: 2001 BMW 525iT

The Christian feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th, (the word Epiphany comes from the ancient Greek work Τheophaneia meaning “vision of God”) and is a commemoration of the three Magi visiting the infant Jesus.  Around here we celebrate the Epiphany by posting 3 cars, one for each of the magi, next up is Balthasar who delivered a gift of Frankincense, which is a kind of resin that is burned and represents divinity. I couldn’t find a car that burned copious amounts of oil or coolant, so instead I’ve got a BMW wagon equipped with angel eyes or halos…which is as holy as I could find for a BMW. Find this 2001 BMW 525iT offered for $6000 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.

From the seller:

2001 BMW 525it

drive: rwd

fuel: gas

paint color: white

title status: salvage

transmission: manual

type: wagon

2001 BMW 525it Wagon / Touring – 5-speed Manual – Alpine White/ Alpinweiss 3 (300)

It has come time to sell my unicorn, my Alpinweiss 2001 525iT 5-speed M/T (factory equipped). It has a dove gray interior and the cold weather package. The registration is good until June. I am asking $6,000.

The car has been my daily driver for the past few years. It has 158, 000 miles on the odometer.

Since purchasing it, I have tastefully modded it, resprayed it, overhauled certain systems, and kept up with the standard maintenance.

Below, although I’m sure I am missing something, I have done my best to list the work I’ve done to the car.


-Lowered on ST Coilovers (approx. 10,000 miles)

-AC Schnitzer Type 2 Wheels, freshly powder-coated

-M5 bumper

-Removed roof rack bars

Maintenance and Repairs


-Resprayed mid-2017

-M5 bumper

-Just washed, clayed, polished, and waxed

-Liftgate/ tailgate/ hatch struts

-Hood struts

-New depo headlights w/ xenon


-Upgraded cup holder!

-Sheepskin seat covers (new)

-Radio refurbished/ all pixels present

-New amplifier (8/2019)


-Vanos rebuild (8/16)

-Valve cover gasket (8/16)

-Oil filter housing gasket (8/16)

-Crankcase vent hoses (CCV) (8/16)

-Disa Valve

-Both belts —drive and accessory (8/16)

-Idle control valve (cleaning)

-New plugs (NGK 3199)

-Air filter

Charging System:

-Alternator (2019)

-Battery (2017)

Cooling System:

Complete overhaul: upper and lower hoses, radiator, thermostat, cooling flush (7/2019)


-Front pads and rotors (approx. 7,500 miles)

-Rear pads and rotors (just installed, 2 miles)


-ST Coilovers (front), matched ST shocks and SLS linkage (rear) (6/17)

-Right and left sway bar links (6/17)

-Right and left tie rod assembly (6/17)

-Driver side, rear SLS air bag (10/19)

Tires and wheels:

-The wheels were freshly powedercoated a year and a half ago and four new tires were installed at the same time. (I had four Rikens, which I like a lot and found to be very grippy, but needed to swap out the fronts with a set of Pirellis that I had in the garage as I ruined one of the Rikens when a nail punctured its sidewall. I am including the extra Riken in the sale.)


-Cabin air filter (6/17)

General maintenance:

I change the oil regularly using Rotella T 5×40 (full syn.) with a Mann or Wix filter.

Included in the sale:

-Original roof racks

-Rear liftgate tool caddy (interior trim piece)

-BMW tools, those included with the car as well as those needed to work on E39s like the fan tool, 32 mm oil filter housing socket, and the belt tool.

-A good extra tire, which matches the Rikens in the rear (mentioned above)

-Original headlights

-Misc. parts

Most of the above work was done by me. Occasionally, when I didn’t have the time to work on it, I would take it to a local independent shop.

I have done my best to list everything that I have done. If you have any questions, please feel free to email or text me.

The good:

This is a well-sorted car, with a lot of the major stuff that E39s usually need already taken care of for the next driver. It is a fun car that handles well, grips the road, and shifts smoothly. It has rack and pinion steering, unlike the 540 wagon, which was also never sold with a M/T. It does not have the reliability issues of the BMW V8s. And, it is rare to find a manual wagon matched to an inline six in the best color that BMW ever offered, the classy Alpine White 3. Furthermore, this is the sexiest beast to ever come out of Bavaria, in its most tantalizing form —the wagon! Everything after the E39 has been an ill-conceived abomination. Additionally, the M54 engine was one of the buttery smoothest engines to come out of Germany, paired with a smooth shifting five-speed, this is a winning combination for any enthusiast.

The bad:

The car’s front seats could use reupholstering or new seats from the junkyard. Or, just use the comfy new sheepskin covers. The car has a salvage title. From what I can tell, it was hit in the passenger front. It has no frame damage. I have driven it spiritedly with me and my three little kids and never worried about the integrity of the vehicle or the safety of myself or little passengers. Like all M54s, it suffers from a minor oil leak. I suspect that mine is coming from the rear of the valve cover. If I were to keep the car for another year or two, I would probably upgrade the valve cover to an metal M56 one.

Note: This is not a show car. It is a very good looking 19 year-old car. It was a daily driver for me and my three kids. So, there is wear and tear. For example, in the back seat there is a mark left by my son’s booster seat. The front seats have seams that have separated, hence the fancy seat covers. Do not come to take a look at the car and expect to see something new on the sales floor. I know that there are E39s that exist like this, ones driven on clouds by dandies that don’t have three kids, but this is not one of them.

Do not waste my time or yours. I have no need for tire-kickers or joy-riders, etc. I am in no dire financial straights and do not need to sell this right away. I would prefer to sell this to another enthusiast, particularly one that has had E39s in the past.

I have sold cars on craigslist and ebay in the past and do not need help selling this one.

I’d like to show the car this Saturday and maybe next if I still need to. Please text to arrange a time to meet.

I will be updating the ad with pictures as time allows. Please email if you would like me to share all of them with you. There are a bunch. 

See a better way to drive something white?