The Torneo was gone and I had money burning a hole in my pocket. In my travels, I came across a few good looking cars, but the one that really stood out was a certain E39 BMW at a dealer in Lower Hutt.
I went and took a look. The dealer wasn’t that great to deal with, initially treating me like scum and acting like I was too poor to afford the car so was reluctant to let me test drive it. When I did drive it though, I was very impressed. It was solid, it was smooth, it was comfortable. It was typically BMW. Not the fastest car on the lot, sure, but it was in decent shape.
I roll back and talk to the dealer, he isn’t impressed when I say I want the car but it needs a new warrant on it. He starts to argue that the warrant is current, but I don’t care, I want a new one. He quickly changed his tune when I pulled a wad of hundreds out of my pocket and said I would put a deposit down now and the rest when I pick it up with its new warrant. Still, being a smarmy prick he proceeds to agree but claim “it won’t fail on anything anyway”.
Well, it failed and needed a few little things, including a puncture repair for the new warrant. It got sorted but still had some issues, but the dealer wasn’t having a ball of it. I ended up taking the car, but won’t touch that dealer again with a barge pole.
It was an OK spec Japanese import. Had my favourite interior, the half alcantara grey. It was Motorsport spec, so had the lower suspension, bodykit, alloys and sports seats and steering wheel. No parking sensors or metal interior trim though, just weirdly out of place woodgrain. I did grow to like the wood. It also had the tiny retro 4:3 display in the dash, which when I got the car was dead. Only showed a white screen. Sourced a replacement and it was easy to fit, giving me back control of the system.
I eventually upgraded to the newer wide screen 16:9 display, but never got around to doing the control units to make the image fit properly.
This was the first car I rebuilt a vanos unit on. When I got the car it had a terrible valve cover leak, and the vanos would cause it to have a really rough and unstable idle on a cold start, and would be undrivable for a minute or two when cold. I purchased the bits from Beisan Systems and followed their instructions. Wasn’t too hard to do, and didn’t need any special tools.
After that was rebuilt it idled and drove great. certainly gained some power back too. No more cold start issues which was a huge bonus.
The E39 is a favourite for me, one of the best looking BMWs and a car I would like to own again. I would need a bigger engine though, as the 525i/523i (mine was labelled a 525i but was actually a 523i with a similar engine to my E36 and future E46) was not powerful enough in this chassis, making it feel too heavy and labouring up hills. An M5 would be ultimate, but they’re out of my price range for a few years yet.
The lack of power was one of the main reason I sold this, it just wants enough.
Update 8/3/20 – This car is currently on the road with Reg/WOF.