Q-Ship Sedan: 1999 BMW 540i – SOLD!

Oct 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

October 7, 2021 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “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.

BMW is known for many things, not the least of which is building quiet, competent sedans that offer a range of engine options available with a five-speed manual gearbox. The 1999 BMW 540i featured here was originally listed in September 2021 on Craigslist in Central New Jersey with the tasty combo of a V8 engine and three pedals, and while it has some cosmetic flaws, the seller has tackled $9,000 in repair while in his care. The asking price is $5,500, and when comparing this price against the NADA Price Guide, we see the seller is right on the money for his number given a “High” condition model would sell for $5,300.

Now, one thing we need to get out of the way is that BMW hasn’t always had the best reputation for building V8s. Ask any seasoned mechanic and they will tell you that the company should have stuck with the inline-six, even though many enthusiasts will tell you that when a BMW V8 is running well, it runs like a damn freight train. Plus, there simply aren’t that many options in the four-door / six speeds / eight cylinders department – it’s a genre of automobiles that almost doesn’t exist in comparison to more mainstream models. While the E39 M5 sedan is a gem and gets all the glory, it’s also frequently priced well above $40,000 for a good one and requires a slightly beefier maintenance budget than a 540i – making our six-speed subject car the next best thing.

Here’s an E39 BMW commercial touting the prowess of the brand’s entire 5-Series line:

In the case of the 540i seen here, it has had a ton of maintenance dollars thrown at it over the last few years, and the seller has tackled the lion’s share of the work that any BMW from this era will need. The cooling system has been extensively refreshed and the seller has also addressed a number of age-related fixes, including a new power steering pump, idler pulley and belt, MAF sensor, ignition switch, and much more. The E39 does still have a lingering issue or two, with the biggest being that the VANOS system needs to be rebuilt with new seals. The seller also addressed the elephant in the room, which is that BMWs of this era can have timing chain guide issues, but he notes he checked the oil pan after buying the car and saw no evidence of tensioner deposits (however, there’s no record of the work being done). This is a freight train in a tuxedo; a track star wearing a kimono. However you describe it, these are awesome commuter cars that can pick up its skirt and boogie at a moment’s notice. Good luck with the purchase if you take this 540i home with you!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1999 BMW E39 540i
6 speed manual
M62 V8
116,XXX miles
Titanium Silver
Factory optioned:
Shadowline trim package
MSport suspension
MSport steering wheel
MSport Shift Knob
Sport seats, heated
Montana Gray Leather
Wood trim
Aftermarket Parts:
Replica M parallel wheels
Replica M style front bumper
Aftermarket Angel Eyes Headlights

Purchased this in 2020 as a driver and project- I’ve sorted most of what it needed, but other projects have now put this one back burner.
Pros: low miles
Chassis is very clean, no rust
Body in great shape
$9,000+ in repairs/ new parts have been recently done, including:
Clutch fan
Expansion tank
Radiator hoses
Spark plugs
ABS/DSC control module & wiring
MAF sensor
Ignition switch
Valve cover gaskets
Idler Pulley and Belt
Water Pump
Power steering pump
Power steering reservoir & pump lines
Battery replaced in 2021
Oil and filter change within the last 200 miles

Cons: driver side fender dent
Pixelated lcd in dash
Some broken interior parts- rear cup holders, radio buttons.
Main one is Vanos needs seals. Car starts easy, runs and drives great, but has some lack of power compared to normal at low rpm. Overall does not affect drivability too much. Plan was to rebuild vanos myself, but can’t find the time to get to it.

Engine has not had timing chain guides done to my knowledge. However, I pulled the oil pan after I bought the car and found no pieces of chain guide.

Do you have a BMW 5-Series story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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