Apr 122011

Last week I bought an amazing car, a 2002 BMW M5. I had been thinking about picking one up for about six months, and keeping my eye on the used M5 market. But I was in no hurry — it had to be the right one and until I found it, my 2001 530 was a great ride.

I was ready for a long process because I had narrowed down the field considerably. It needed to be a private party sale, so I could deal directly with the owner of the vehicle and avoid a dealer markup. (This also works better for the seller since he gets more than wholesale trade-in). The car had to be in good shape with relatively low miles, and with good maintenance records.

It had to be a local sale, no matter how tempting some vehicles looked that were thousands of miles away. I wanted an atypical color — no black, silver or gray if possible — and the titanium interior rather than wood (although that can be swapped).  All M5s came with lots of standard features so options weren’t a big deal.

Just a few weeks ago I had looked at a nice 2002 Blue Water Metallic with relatively low miles and went as far as having a pre-purchase inspection done.  But that inspection discovered some issues, there was little maintenance documentation and beyond that I just didn’t want the car enough to pay the money required.

Then I saw an ad for a 2002 Le Mans blue, black interior with titanium on Craigslist, and the owner was in Arlington. Got a good vibe from seller Chris when we met, and the car looked great. He had bought it from a former boss, and the car had some very cool performance modifications done to it – Rogue short shifter, Bilstein PSS9 suspension, Dinan exhaust, Euro floating rotors, clear bra, tasteful window tint and iPod adapter. Whoa!

A thorough inspection at Martin Motorsports found nothing unusual, some normal wear and tear items that will need to be addressed. Gary Martin insists both parties are present during PPIs so we both hear the same things at the same time. It’s a good policy that fosters a constructive, honest buying experience.

A couple of back and forths on price, and the car is mine. I haven’t had much time to work on her, but I’ve fixed a broken cupholder, recharged the battery (was low from car sitting around a lot), washed her and cleaned and conditioned the interior.

Still on the to-do list is a CD player that isn’t working, and some curb rash on two of the wheels. Plus the Bilstein suspension is adjustable — now that will make for an interesting post!

In some ways the purchase hasn’t really sunk in. Depreciation is a wonderful thing when it works to your advantage — I now own an incredible car that cost well over $70,000 when new. Here’s what Edmunds had to say about the E39 M5 back in 2002:

The M5 represents BMW’s most capable performance car yet. It is an uncompromising sport sedan in terms of both ability and amenity. If your demands for horsepower, handling, hedonism and hip-room run to the extreme, the M5 has no peer.

So now I’ve got two “old” M cars, both two body styles behind the most recent models. That’s exactly what I wanted – now the only M I need to worry about is Maintenance.

Here are some pictures. If you know anyone, I’ve got a clean, low miles 2001 530i Sport Manual for sale!

M Brothers

  5 Responses to “Chris Buys a M5”

  1. Great post – thanks for sharing. I’m often intrigued by the prospect of buying a pre-owned BMW. Like you say the depreciation is steep on the front end so it feels like you can get a great car for a good price if you have a good relationship with an independent BMW mechanic.

    I’m driving a 2003 325i currently – any tips for finding a good independent BMW repair specialist in the Boston area?

  2. Sweet looking ride! Glad to see that you finally hunted one down and one that’s in good shape. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more updates on this.

  3. Congrats on the new car, Chris. There’s nothing wrong with owning three cars. Or even four…if you ever want to bring back the Maxima.

  4. Chris–Congrats on the car! Would love to hear how it compares to the M3, in terms of performance, ride, and maintenance costs.

    Also regarding an indie in Boston, look into Landshark Auto in Natick. I used them before I moved to NYC and thought they were great.

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