Brawny Bimmer: E39 540i with 6-speed Manual

For September 17, 2020, our used car find is this well-kept 2001 BMW 540i sedan with 93k miles and a rare 6-speed manual gearbox. It’s listed for sale on craigslist by a private seller in the Orange County area for $9998.

Here’s what makes this one special.

The E39 generation 5 Series, which debuted for the 1997 model year (in the US), is considered by many to be one of BMW’s finest, combining timeless understated looks with great driving dynamics in a tidy and useful package.

The E39 made Car and Driver’s 10 Best list in its debut year, and the editors obtained a top-of-the-line 540i example with the 6-speed manual gearbox for a long-term test, where (despite a few early-production issues) it earned compliments like this one: “If somebody’s looking for ‘beef on wheels’ with protein to spare, this is the most muscular yet gracious near-super sedan around.”

This particular car is much like the C and D long-termer, but as a 2001 model it benefits from five years of iterative improvements from the factory, including a mid-cycle refresh. These updates give this later 540i notable upgrades like an improved HVAC system, Xenon headlights, and a slight bump in power for the M62 V8 engine (to 282 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque).

Short of a much more expensive M5, this example offers pretty much everything you’d want in a used E39. With the V8 backed by a manual gearbox, it’s in great spec (lacking only the full Sport Package). Plus it offers an accident-free history, relatively low miles (93k), as well as a recent major service, where it earned top marks from the local specialist, according to the seller.

After two decades of use, most E39 examples are looking pretty tired. But this one still presents like new, with the exception of what appears to be a parking lot bump under the left rear taillight.

We think the asking price of $9998 is fair for such a clean, original E39 in this spec. Without question, it’s quite a lot of BMW for less than ten grand.

Vehicle Details

  • 2001 BMW 540i sedan (E39)
  • 93k miles
  • 4.4 liter V8 engine (282 hp)
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • Titanium Silver on grey leather
  • for sale by owner for $9998
  • Costa Mesa, California
  • link to craigslist listing HERE

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Notable Replies

  1. mark


    This one has been re-listed for the same price HERE.

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