5-Speed Q Ship: 1998 BMW 540i – Sold?

May 2021 | Classifinds, Free For All Friday

July 4, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Few cars are as capable as an E39 BMW 5-Series right out of the box. Built before the Bangle era and on the heels of the golden years of E34 and E36 models, the E39 offered consumers a range of options, from lazy, six-cylinder automatics to rip-snorting V8/six-speed cars, like this 1998 540i loriginally listed on Craigslist in May 2021 in Framingham, Massachusetts with tired cosmetics but lots of recent maintenance for $4,000.  Comparing this price against the NADA Price Guide confirms this private seller has priced his 540i quite fairly, as a “High Retail” example is valued at $5,075.

For automotive fans of a certain age, you may recall BMW compiled an incredible series of short films created by legendary directors under the title of “The Hire.” Clive Owen played the role of a hired driver who was retained for any number of stress-inducing assignments, utilizing BMW vehicles from the middle 2000s as his rides of choice. While the E39 M5 video that featured Madonna is the most memorable, my favorite was “Chosen”, which featured an E39 sedan equipped with the factory sport package executing all manners of evasive maneuvers that made owning a V8-powered 5-Series extremely tempting. While BMW-built V8s are not exactly beacons of reliability, with the right upkeep, they are very easy to live with as daily drivers. The trouble is, finding a driver-quality example that was well-maintained is getting increasingly hard.

The example listed for sale outside of Boston is clearly a case of a car you should inspect in person. Poor photos and evidence of rough cosmetics will certainly turn buyers off, especially because it’s not the sort of vehicle that’s so desirable that buyers will take a chance on it sight unseen. The seller claims it runs very well, and that he purchased it out of Georgia so there’s no evidence of rot underneath. The description also highlights that he’s spent $4,500 on recent maintenance, including new valve cover gaskets, radiator, and fuel pump. He notes the 540i has some cosmetic defects, but the silver paint helps to mask the flaws – at least in pictures. The seat needs repair, which we suspect means the power adjustment motor has a stripped gear. A lost ability to drive standard is what prompts the sale, but as mentioned above, a potentially needy sedan like this demands an in-person assessment, or at least a pre-purchase inspection. Good luck with the purchase if you take this V8-powered sleeper home.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Selling 1998 BMW 540i 6speed. V8. Needs seat repair and minor visual defects. Windows etc. runs great. Spent over 4500’in repair. New valve cover. Radiator. Fuel pump. I can’t currently drive manual transmission so I have to sell. Very fast. Shipped from Georgia. Still had Ga plates. Never registered here. Never seen a winter. No rust.

Do you have a BMW E39 story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

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