Six Speed Equipped: 1999 BMW 540i – $6,250
October 23, 2022, 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.
If you’re on the verge of having to slog to work on a daily commute again, it may be time to reconsider your choice of a daily driver. These days, it can feel like the only new cars available to you are miserable econoboxes with little to offer in the form of driving enjoyment, so it may be time to consider a used vehicle with a six-speed manual and a V8 under the hood. Enter the E39 5-Series sedan, just one step below an M5 for far less coin. The seller’s car is a 1999 540i model with some tasteful upgrades and appears in decent condition, with perhaps some room for improvement in the cosmetics department. Originally listed in October 2022 on Craigslist in Newburyport, Mass., just north of Boston, for $6,250. Comparing that price against the Classic.com model guide shows that the seller is asking for short money compared to the average selling price of over $22,000.
There’s just something about a four-door with three pedals and eight cylinders. It’s a seriously tantalizing combination, no doubt helped by how this vehicle configuration is portrayed on the movie screen. I don’t know many gearheads who watched the epic car chase flick Ronin and didn’t want to immediately run out and buy an Audi S8 or a Mercedes-Benz sedan with the 6.9-liter monster motor under the hood. And now, with some companies enforcing a return to office policy, the possibility of having a commute once again may give some workers a renewed appreciation for enjoying their time behind the wheel, in which case a sleeper sedan like this one makes a lot of sense. The E39 generation is one of the most-loved eras of BMW’s classic luxury sedan. While they can be maintenance hounds if you buy a neglected example, good cars are generally pretty easy to live with, and their faults are well-documented.
The Hondata97 YouTube Channel features MotorWeek Review of the then-new 1999 BMW 540i:
The seller’s car is an early 5-Series, which is most obviously noted when looking at the front bumper. The later E39s, especially those equipped with the sport package, have a chunky front air dam that the earlier cars did not get. The seller doesn’t tell us much about his history with the car or how well it’s been maintained, and with 182,000 miles on the clock, it’s somewhat important to have that kind of detail when buying a car like this. That omission aside, the interior presents quite well, especially for those kinds of miles, so there’s reason to be hopeful that this E39 has been cared for. The seller would do himself a huge favor by putting the factory sport package wheels back on the car and replacing the fogged-up headlight lenses. With those changes alone, I would wager the 5-Series would sell in a few days. The listing notes he has the original wheels mounted on snow tires, so that’d be an easy change to encourage a faster sale. The paint looks decent in pictures, but there appears to be an aftermarket exhaust. Overall, this is a great choice for making some small improvements and simply enjoying it, provided the owner can fill in the blanks on the maintenance side.
Here’s the seller’s description:
“I have a 1999 BMW E39 540i Sport for sale. Six-speed standard shift sport model in great shape. It comes with eight newer tires mounted on BMW rims.
The original rims have newer Continental Viking Contact 7 tires for winter driving. I have Continental Sport Plus tires mounted on M5 rims for summer use, and currently on the car. The tires and M5 rims would cost over $4000 to replace.”
Commuter car alternative: even with high miles, is a car like this 540i more appealing than your average econobox?