BMW’s E39 generation 540i is a legend. They are not M5 fast, but they are not M5 expensive. They are also more comfortable in everyday driving than an M5 and cheaper to maintain. I’ve always said that if you buy a 330ZHP or a 335i you’ll just hit yourself for not going to full send and getting the M3, but with the 540i, it might be a more sensible car for the guy looking for some executive class ride for cheap. This next one has a few needs, but it’s got a 6-speed manual. Find this 1998 BMW 540i offered for $5000 in Little Italy neighborhood of downtown San Diego, CA via craigslist.
I hate to do this to you guys, because this next car is ugly. Real ugly. Uglier than a monkey’s armpit. Uglier than a Kardashian without a corset. Uglier than a mud fence. Uglier than a Bangle butt on a Bugatti. Uglier than a LeCar. U…G…L…Y, you ain’t got no alibi. Feel out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down to the ugly pit. Uglier than a shaved ape in a Birkenstocks. Ugg. Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly is to the bones…this car is bound for the crusher or nearest 24 Hours of LeMons racetrack, you decide. Find this 1989 BMW E34 540i 6-Speed offered for $500 in Glen Burnie, MD via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
We posted a nice E39 the other day that had two things wrong with it — first it wasn’t a wagon, and second it had two too many cylinders. I know the 4.4-liter V8 (why didn’t they call it a 544i…eh?) in the 540i is a sweet piece of machinery, but it isn’t an inline-6, and BMW is known primarily for its supremacy with the inline-6. Smooth, fuel efficient, and long is an inline-6 and BMW has made some of the best ever produced. So if you are going to step back into a 90s BMW, why not make it a wagon (that is grounded to the ground low) that is manual gearbox and inline-6 equipped, because BMW didn’t make a manual V8 wagon for the USA market. Find this 1999 BMW 528iT Wagon E39 offered for $11,995 in Los Gatos, CA via craigslist. Tip from Jeff.
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. Imagine a world where a young Eli Manning juiced some steroids (or more steroids?) and managed to score a victory in one of the games against his legendary older brother Peyton and you get an idea of where the builder of this 540i is going. I like it. Find this 1997 BMW 540i offered for $4,850 in Sacramento, CA via craigslist.
The e34 generation BMW 5-series (1987-1996) is one of those cars that is new enough to not feel like driving a ’57 Chevy but old enough to not be stuffed with electronic nannies, stupid autotragic gearboxes, and hideous styling. Obviously, the one to own is the screaming inline-6 powered M5 version, but the price of entry is high and price of any failure is…well…yikes. I had an E34 M5 for a short period of time (and CFlo had the car for longer) and discovered that things like transmission parts were made from unobtanium. So, if the M5 is too risky (and pricey) but you want the M5 performance, you should get a 540i and supercharge it to 400 horsepower…just make sure it is 6-speed version…oh hey; Find this 1995 BMW 540i offered for $9,900 in Renton, WA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
If you are not a total BMW fanboy goober, you might not understand this next car. But I hope to transform you into a BMW fanboy goober by the end of this article, so that might be moot point. Hang on, lemme back up. The E39 generation BMW 5-series could be had in 540i V8 6-speed version or a wicked wagon called a Touring Sports Wagon…but you couldn’t get a V8, 6-speed, and wagon from the factory for whatever reason. Today’s example fixes that by shoving the 6-speed from a sedan into the wagon body, but the seller, alarmingly, says it needs “quite a bit of work”. Not sure what that means…but I think it merits a second look. Find this 2000 BMW 540i Touring 6-Speed offered for $8,500 in Hopewell, NJ via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
In the early 1990s BMW was known for its silky smooth inline-6 engines, and it hadn’t produced a V8 in 25 years (the last BMW V8 was a 3.2 liter model first used in the 501/502 and finally in the 3200 CS model in 1965). However, the folks in Dingolfing were never known for sitting on […]
Take a normal car and turning it into a custom widebody can result in a cool ride or a total pile of ugg, depending on the skill and vision of the fabricator. Another consideration is that most widebody vehicles are two-door coupes, but occasionally you’ll see some fender flares on a sedan and today we […]
The trick of doing a good engine swap is simple…just follow these two rules: (1) pick a sweet vehicle with plenty of street cred, but maybe down a few ponies on power & (2) juice it up with something that keeps alive the spirit of the original automobile, but turns the dial up to 11. […]
Few cars offer as much value (pound for pound…or kilo for kilo) as the E39 generation BMW 540i (1994-2003) with 6-speed manual gearbox. It is the middleweight of sports sedans, and one minute it is a mild mannered scientists, but get it upset and the beast from within beats pavement and rear tires with equal […]