There are definitive examples of different motoring breeds. With hot hatches, it’s the VW Golf GTI. With sports cars, it’s the Porsche 911. And with super saloons, it’s the BMW M5.
There’s relatively widespread agreement on the greatest M5 of all time, too: the E39. Could an E39 be worth £137,000, though? For a buyer at Pebble Beach, this sub-500-mile example was.
The titanium silver, 437-mile, 2002 example hit the block with an estimate of between $140,000 and $180,000, eventually reaching $176,000.
For context, the very same car was sold back in 2010 at auction for a mere $48,400, with just 69 miles on the clock. The previous owner ‘piling on’ an extra 300-odd clearly didn’t reduce this mint M5’s appeal.
)For additional context, you can get a brand new 2018 BMW M5 for around £90,000.)
Although it’s barely been driven, the car has been meticulously cared for, with regular servicing and storage in a climate-controlled garage. In theory, in spite of its largely stationary life, it should be good to go. The window sticker, service records, Carfax, books, toolkit and accessories are all present as-new or updated as appropriate.
The E39 M5 has generated a reputation among enthusiasts of being a sweet spot – not only in the history of M5s, but the sports saloon as a whole. It remains the yardstick by which all rivals are measured.
A neat 400hp output from its 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8, a manual transmission, limited-slip diff and a beautifully judged chassis all fortify its legend as the best driver’s sports saloon.
Is paying £100,000+ somewhat at odds with the M5’s ultimate attainable appeal? That’s another debate, but well-used pre-facelift examples are well beyond £10,000 in the UK now, while cars that are closer to ‘mint’ go above £30,000.