5 WAYS TO MAKE IT BETTER
1 A NICE BODY
Motorway miles can cause bonnet stone-chips, so touch them in to prevent problems worsening, and make sure that you clear any mud and debris from the wheelarches and underside of the wings.
2 GET IT SERVICED
A service is a must if the history is patchy (don’t rely on the dashboard service indicator – it’s easily reset). Specialists charge around £190 and £270 for an Inspection I/Inspection II service respectively on petrol models, with an auto gearbox oil change – advised every 80,000 miles – being around £280. Change the coolant and differential oil at the same time.
3 MOD CHOICES
There are plenty of options for modifying an E39, from engine remapping (£200-400), to improving the stance and handling by spending a few hundred pounds on sports springs and dampers. Alloy wheel upgrades are popular, too, but remember that rims from other BMW models don’t always fit.
4 GETTING IN A FLAP
The swirl flaps fitted to later M47 and M57 diesel engines effectively changed the length of the inlet manifold to optimise torque, but they became a potentially expensive menace. Check whether they’ve been removed – if not you’ll need to pay a specialist around £200 to do the job, which includes fitting blanking plates. The effect on performance is negligible and it could prevent disastrous engine damage.
5 A SUBTLE FACELIFT
2001-on models got ‘angel eye’ headlights (BMW called them Corona Rings), which produced a sidelight ring around the main headlights. The distinctive appearance drew plenty of admirers. It’s a popular addition to earlier models and you can source secondhand units from the internet for around £250. Fitment is fairly straightforward, though some wiring modifications – or an adaptor – will probably be needed.