Those who know me know that something like a BMW M car is not going to set foot on the floor of my rental garage anytime soon. This is not so much due to the fact that the average X6 M simply does not fit within the walls of the garage in question, but also that the image of such a German premium rocket is difficult to reconcile with my inexplicable love for everything that is contrarian in the car world. Even a BMW-without-M has not yet come into my mind, although there is one model for which I would be happy to put my prejudices aside. That’s the 5 Series of the E39 generation; in my opinion easily one of the best looking Bimmers ever.
Sporty and elegant
That car also counts as the only moment in recent history when I scoured the car classifieds looking for a BMW M model — only to pull my tail after a few minutes of course because of a budget too small. The E39 5 Series dates back to a time when sportiness could go hand in hand with elegance, and not necessarily have to be accompanied by a bit of aggressiveness. For example, a modest composite M5 from the late 1990s is barely distinguishable from any variant with a diesel in the front, until you give its 5.0-litre V8 engine the spurs and leave any modern artillery behind with it — responsibly chosen, of course — traffic light. That is, in my opinion at least, the joy: that the connoisseurs know what special you are driving around, but in the eyes of the layman it is simply a ‘beautiful car’.
That engine is for me the only drawback of the M5, because the E39 generation was the first in which the powerhouse got a V8 block in the front. Feel free to call me old-fashioned — you wouldn’t be the first — but the soundtrack of a six-in-line suits me best for a BMW. In addition, this was also the first M5 to simply roll side-by-side with the regular 5 Series, which also detracts a bit from its uniqueness. So there is a greater chance that I ‘just’ would go for a 535i, or even settle for a weekday 520i since even the smaller blocks at BMW used to have six cylinders. Or maybe I’m just saying that to comfort myself after seeing the prices for the E39 M5…