OUR CARS – GUIDO

FI­NESS­ING THE 540 BEEMER’S HAN­DLING

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS PHO­TOS GUY ALLEN

HOW YOU VIEW used Euro­pean cars may de­pend on which side of the ex­change you’re on.

This 2003 E39 540 Sport is a good ex­am­ple. Un­cle Phil spot­ted the car two years ago and ba­si­cally made me buy it. Long stor y. At the time, it cost $17,000 in mint con­di­tion (a typical Phil buy) with 130,000km on the clock. Its first owner, Henry, con­fessed it cost him $160,000.

So there I was get­ting a fairly mod­ern V8 Euro­pean in per­fect con­di­tion for a lit­tle over a tenth of its orig­i­nal cost. I don’t get it.

While I’ve torn up plenty of money on ve­hi­cles over the years, I reckon that rate of de­pre­ci­a­tion would drive you to drink.

Any­way, the car has turned out to be a good buy. It’s a late E39, a se­ries that was ver y highly re­garded by as­sorted mo­tor­ing re­view­ers over the years. It’s run­ning the 4.4lt al­loy V8, which claims an un­der­stressed 290 horses (216kW) at 5400rpm and a healthy 440Nm of torque at 3600. What that means is it’s got de­cent midrange stomp – no fire­breather, but en­thu­si­as­tic when you sink the slip­per for an over­tak­ing run.

The dif­fer­ences between the Sport and the stan­dard are the car is low­ered with a dif­fer­ent wheel/tyre pack­age that pro­vides not­i­ca­bly more

rubber on the road. Plus there are some trim dif­fer­ences, in­clud­ing M-Sport sill plates un­der the doors.

The’ve got a reputation for be­ing ro­bust, with one or two things to watch, such as the plas­tic (why plas­tic?!) coolant hose junc­tion at the top front of the en­gine.

As some­thing to travel in, it’s ter­rific. It eats up the miles, sits beau­ti­fully through a cor­ner and is quick enough for the road.

The only glitch so far has been a slight vague­ness in the front end, par­tic­u­larly un­der brakes. Mor­ley drove it and sug­gested a wheel align­ment, so we popped in to Hakon on the north side of Melb – they’re the peo­ple who sorted Un­cle Phil’s To­rana last is­sue.

Up on the hoist and ring­mas­ter Reade dis­cov­ered that some­one had in­stalled new front end caster bushes and stuffed it up. The one on the driver side had been in­stalled 90 de­grees out, which al­lowed some lat­eral move­ment of that wheel un­der brakes.

So we or­dered a de­cent qual­ity new set, then set up the wheel align­ment which had been out and was never go­ing to be right un­til the bushes were sorted.

And the other drama? The day Un­cle Phil and I got a flat hun­dreds of kays from home, only to dis­cover the wheels each had a lock­ing nut and who­ever last changed the tyres for­got to put the tool back in the car. Bas­tard! Those lock­ing nuts were pitched in the bin the minute I got home.

So far so good with this one and I reckon it will be hanging around in the shed for a fair while to come.

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01 Wall-to-wall leather. 02 Fat­ter rims are part of the Sport pack­age. 03 4.4lt V8 is smooth. 04 Tiny Mo­torola ‘bat­phone’ comes with the car. 05 Reade at Hakon. 04

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