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    CAR: BMW / E61 530i SE / 2006 E61 530I / #BMW-530i-SE / #BMW-530i-E61 / #BMW-E61 / #BMW-530i-SE / #BMW-530i-SE-E61 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E61 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW /
    YEAR: #2006
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 52,390
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 336
    MPG THIS MONTH: 22.1
    COST THIS MONTH: nil

    Life with the E61 continues to be a joy at the moment, although there’s some expenditure on the horizon – hopefully it won’t be too painful. So far, the list of items to be attended to is growing, but I’m saving them up to see if I can get them all done at once. The iDrive is showing that the front brakes pads have about 2,000 miles left in them, but my experience with this system is that it’s rather pessimistic, and that that things often last a little longer… here’s hoping!

    I’ve also started to experience a bit of a creaking from the front end when going over speed bumps, and I can occasionally hear this when turning from lock-to-lock, during slow, parking manoeuvres.

    There’s the soft-close on the off side, rear door to be checked, plus the tailgate rust I mentioned last month. Also, despite my best efforts to clean and adjust the windscreen washer jets, they remain pretty pathetic at their job, so there’s a potential issue there, too.

    I’m hoping that the front pads will be the only item I have to pay for, and that the rest will be covered by the warranty. But, as the policy is the version that has the £250 excess, I’m storing the jobs up to get them all done at once!

    I’m tempted to pop in and see the chaps at BM Sport, so they can give the car a thorough once-over before I go to BMW… at least that way I should know what I’m going to be in for, and there won’t be any nasty shocks when I visit a main dealer.

    More on all this next month.

    This expenditure is in the offing; I’m letting a few niggly jobs build up so that they can all be tackled together.
    Life with my ‘new’ 530i Touring continues to be a joy.
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    CAR: #BMW-E61 / #BMW-530i-SE / #BMW-530i-E61 / BMW-E61 / #BMW-530i-SE / #BMW-530i-SE-E61 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E61 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW /

    YEAR: #2006
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 1,836
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 52,054
    MPG THIS MONTH: 27.6
    COST THIS MONTH: £27 ( #Tunai-Firey / #Tunai-Creative )

    BOB HARPER 2006 E61 530I

    One of the few defects I’ve found on the car so far is a small amount of rusting at the bottom corners of the rear window. My new 530i Touring has been a pleasure to own and drive so far.

    It’s been a busy month for the 530i and, judging by the miles I’ve covered, I may well have to get on to my insurance company with the bombshell that I’ve woefully underestimated my annual mileage. I had this idea that if I wasn’t commuting to the office every day, I’d cover far fewer miles – perhaps this month will be the exception to prove that rule.

    So far I’m one month into 530i ownership and, to say I’m happy with my purchase would be a bit of an understatement. The first big trip was a Bank Holiday weekend dash to the West Country and back, for a friend’s 50th birthday bash. The E61 shrugged off the 500-mile trip with disdain. Comfortable, quiet, refined – everything you could wish for on a long journey – and perhaps most importantly, it got a big thumb’s-up from Mrs H, who proclaimed at the end of the weekend that the seats were the best she’d ever sat in – they don’t call them ‘Comfort’ seats for nothing!

    The trip did highlight a couple of points of note. I don’t think I mentioned last month that part of the car’s comprehensive spec were adaptive xenon lights and at night in the Devon lanes, these really were very impressive. Perhaps not hugely powerful on their dipped setting, but once flicked to high beam, it was as if someone had strapped a couple of searchlights to the bonnet – they really do light up the road for some distance ahead.

    At the same time, I was able to check out the operation of the night vision camera, but have to admit that this was a major disappointment, or as my son Archie commented: “That wasn’t worth staying awake for!” When it’s switched on you more or less just get a cloudy grey screen and you have to be so close to a heat source for the camera to pick it up, that you’d have hit the object before actually spotting it.

    Despite having run an E61 several years ago, I’d forgotten the various rattles and creaks that can emanate from the rear load cover area and, as I’m a little OCD about these sorts of noises, I’m going to have to try and get to the bottom of them as they are driving me a bit mad. But I might have my work cut out, as the load cover goes up and down (most of the time) as the electric tailgate opens, so any fi x mustn’t get in the way of that.


    While we’re on the subject of the tailgate, I was having a quick look at the load cover mechanism the other day and noticed two small patches of rust, where the split folding glass section meets the rest of the tailgate. They’re at the outer edges of the hatch and I’m hoping they can be attended to under the anti-corrosion warranty. It’s not something I’ve really heard of before on the E61; has anyone else been affected by this problem?

    Another item that’ll need attention under the Extended Warranty is the off side rear door, because the soft-close mechanism no longer works. I’ve never really been a fan of this system, as it just adds weight and complexity but, if the car has it fitted and I can get it repaired without having to pay for it, then it seems worthwhile.

    Just room for two more points before I sign off. Firstly, despite only being a smidgen over 10 years old, it’s easy to forget how far automotive connectivity has come on in that time. The E61 doesn’t have an USB input, which means that controlling music via the iDrive from external devices such as an iPhone or iPod, isn’t currently an option. There’s an Aux input but, quite why BMW decided to locate this at the back of the centre console where it’s only really useful for rear seat passengers, is beyond me.

    While my VW Passat was terminally dull to drive, I did get very used to being able to stream music via Bluetooth, so I’ve purchased a little gadget called a Tunai Firefly, which allows me to stream audio in the E61. It’s basically a tiny Bluetooth gadget no larger than a USB drive, that plugs into the Aux input. It needs power, but this isn’t a problem as the car is fitted with two, 12V power outputs, right next to the Aux input. Once you’ve paired your phone with it you can stream music via the Aux input section of the Entertainment menu on the iDrive. Sadly, you can’t go to the next track or anything like that without touching the phone, which is obviously a no-no these days but, as I quite often just listen to audiobooks on longer journeys, this isn’t a problem for me. I’ll find a more long-term solution for this with one of the various aftermarket systems but, as a quick-fix measure, I’m very pleased with it.

    Finally, a word about the sat nav. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by driving so many modern cars whose iDrive set-ups are akin to superfast broadband, but the system in the E61 is more like going back to using a dial-up modem! It’s so slooooow and clunky to use, I find it hard to believe we used to think it was pretty good. It is possible to retrofit the later, CIC navigation system (which would also sort any connectivity issues), but this is likely to cost about £1,000, To put that in perspective, it’s.

    This neat little device enables me to stream audio from my iPhone; a connectivity feature not available in the E61.
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    YEAR: #2006
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 106
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 50,218
    MPG THIS MONTH: 20.4
    COST THIS MONTH: Not telling!
    CAR: #BMW-E61 / #BMW-530i-SE / #BMW-530i-SE-E61 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E61 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW /

    With the M6 gone and the Passat shortly to be returning to the leasing company who own it I was rapidly running out of time to purchase some new wheels. I’d more or less decided on an E9x 330i – Saloon, Coupé or Touring, I wasn’t going to be too fussy, but if the right car came up a Touring was the ideal option as it just gives that added bit of practicality while not losing out dynamically to its two- and four-door relations. Just about the only stipulation was that it would have to have the N52 engine as I didn’t fancy shelling out £1500 when the N53 incarnation would inevitably fry its injectors and that the car would have to have heated seats, and would preferably have an auto ‘box. I went and had a look at a few and in the price range I was looking at the cars really weren’t up to scratch. Of course most things can be fixed, but if you have to shell out on remedial work just after buying a car you might as well buy a better one in the first place. And my budget wasn’t looking too healthy.

    After a few wasted journeys it was always back to the drawing board and then one Saturday morning the car you can see in the pictures popped up on my saved searches from when I’d been considering a 5 Series. Reading the ad had my mouth watering and I was on the phone and arranging a time to go and view the car before you could say, ‘But it’s not a 330i!’

    It was close to me and had a spec to die for – Comfort seats complete with heating, ventilation and massage functions, Professional sat nav, Bluetooth, Style 32 alloys, an electric tailgate as well as Night Vision and best of all a Head- Up-Display. And I love a HUD.

    Mindbogglingly for a 2006 machine it had only covered 50k miles and the icing on the cake was that it’s still under a Comprehensive BMW extended warranty until November this year. The extra layer of icing was that it was cheaper than all the 330is I’d looked at.

    So, it’s a 530i, and the first thing I’m getting used to is its thirst, but that was a conscious decision I took – not to buy a diesel. Living in London and having a non-Euro 6 diesel doesn’t really mix any more (or shortly won’t when the new Ultra Low Emission Zones kick in) and as I couldn’t justify spending Euro 6 diesel money on a car I decided it would have to be a Euro 4 compliant petrol, which thankfully the 530i is.

    I’ve literally just picked it up so have done less than 100 miles so far, but as far as I can work out everything works and it drives very nicely indeed. There are a few body blemishes that need attending to and the biggest decision I’m going to have to make will be whether or not to invest in an M Sport body kit as I do think they look so much better in M Sport guise. I’m currently telling myself that with the money I saved on buying the car I could easily justify the expense of getting the styling upgraded… Watch this space.
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    SLAMMED WAGON
    Awesome ultra-low E39 LOW LIFE / A slammed static E39 Touring that gets everything right.

    The E39 Touring has always been an extremely handsome machine and a few choice mods can get it looking even better. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Marcus Lundell.

    I remember reading the E39 Touring brochure back in #1997 (my aunt was thinking of getting one) and I recall thinking the E39 looked rather elegant and upmarket, shot as it was in that expensive brochure style. It remains a very smart-looking estate today, having aged well and retained a sense of grace and luxury. It is the sort of car you can imagine a well-to-do family driving down to their holiday home on the coast in. That is until someone like Henrik Karlsson gets his hands on it…

    Henrik is not married to someone called Arabella, does not have children with names like Tabitha and Quentin, and doesn’t holiday on the Devon coast – mainly because he lives in Sweden. And he’s clearly blessed with a discerning eye for design (a national trait perhaps?) as with just a few carefully considered selection of choice modifications, Henrik’s twisted the E39 Touring’s restrained elegance into something far sleeker.

    As he’s from Sweden, it is no surprise to learn that Henrik tried out some Volvos but when he got behind the wheel of what was to become his first BMW, a 523i (that he still owns), he fell in love and that was that. He made the 523i his and although it was fine, he had a hankering for a Sport Touring. With no previous record of modifying beyond audio upgrades, his plans for a potential estate were to simply leave it alone and use it as a daily. “That didn’t work out…” smiles Henrik sheepishly.

    A Touring was duly sourced from Blocket.se, Sweden’s largest used car site, and Henrik swiftly launched all plans for stock motoring out of the window and left them to rot in a ditch somewhere. As you can see, this E39 is far removed from stock.

    However, the list of mods isn’t an overflowing cascade of barely-restrained expenditure. Instead it’s a concise collection of clever alterations. This project is all about making a big impact with just a few modifications – something that’s far harder to achieve than it perhaps sounds, as it requires an innate understanding of the aesthetics of (car) design.

    So, first things first, this Touring is static. Considering how far up into the arches those awesome Hamann splits are tucked and the fact that there’s maybe 20mm between the bottom of that front lip and the Tarmac, that’s seriously impressive. We can’t help but think that even errant acorns might be enough to halt the Touring’s progress, wedging themselves between bumper and road. This level of low takes dedication to the cause, and Henrik’s clearly got that in spades. The job of dropping this E39 Touring on its arse falls to a set of BC Racing coilovers, or rather a pair, as they only do the work up front. At the back, Henrik’s wagon is rocking SLS, BMW’s self-levelling suspension setup, which is great at keeping the rear end flat when it’s full of shopping or kitchen appliances but somewhat restrictive when it comes to getting your Touring as low as possible. Getting the SLS to play ball can be achieved through the use of some special lowering links however Henrik took a slightly different route, as he explains: “There’s a sensor on each side of the wheel.


    This sensor has a little arm which controls the height of the SLS, so if you’re loading the car with stuff it will raise automatically to keep the right height level. I noticed that, so I took the arm off the sensor so I could control the height and made the cables to the sensor longer and brought it inside the car.”

    Handily, Henrik has shot a little video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBTI1oWSUw0) showing how it works and it really is as simple as it sounds, with the factory suspension now obeying his every command and essentially behaving like an air-ride system. It’s very clever stuff and cost him nothing, making it the best sort of mod. With the rear suspension successfully fiddled with, the Touring’s back end could now be brought in line with the front, which Henrik has wound down to within an inch of its life, and the end result is awesome.

    Whatever your viewing angle, this Touring looks spectacular. Outrageous lows achieved, it was only right that the car was paired with a suitably eye-catching set of wheels, and Henrik’s picked a classic rim that couldn’t look more at home on the Touring if it tried. “I was thinking about OZ Futuras,” he tells us, “but the Hamann PG1 was a little rarer, and when I saw these wheels I couldn’t resist buying them. I built the wheels to the measurements that I wanted as well, so they got pretty wide. I pulled the rear arches about 17mm on each side to make the wheels fit and about 10mm at the front.” The Hamanns measure 18” across with the fronts being 10.25” wide with an outrageous offset of -10, while the rears are 11.25” with an offset of +3. It’s no wonder, then, that the arches needed to be rolled and pulled so aggressively to get them to fit, but the effort was well worth it. It goes without saying that the wheels themselves look absolutely awesome; the dish is absolutely insane and the mirror lips and dark centres are a dream combo.

    A Sport trim Touring slammed on its arse with a set of killer wheels would be enough on its own for many of us. But Henrik isn’t like many of us; he’s the cool, calculating Swede with an eye for combining clean lines with big impact, remember? And, true to form, Henrik figured that there was a room for a bit more improvement on the styling front, just a little something to give his E39 a bit more impact. “I wanted some OEM styling,” he explains, “so I bought the Hamann front lip and black grille. I don’t like chrome so I had to change that and I also changed the door strips to black with the M badges.” Getting rid of the chrome was definitely the way forward and the Hamann lip adds an extra element of sheer meanness to the front end, dropping it even closer to the ground and giving it that square-jawed, hard-man look.

    The original interior, complete with its rather rare armrest-mounted car phone option, is exactly what Henrik wanted, finished as it is in black leather with the standard Sport seats. The only changes Henrik made here involved replacing the wood trim with aluminium, dyeing the steering wheel back to black as the leather had started to wear and adding a set of M Sport pedals.


    While the engine has been left alone, Henrik does say that a money-no-object mod would have been swapping in an S62 from the E39 M5 but a more realistic item on his to-do list (and next on the cards) is going for air-ride, in the form of Air Lift’s latest 3P system, along with a set of new wheels, which Henrik says are top secret.

    Considering how jaw-droppingly good this Touring looks with the small selection of choice mods that it’s been treated to, with a set of even more amazing wheels and air, the only way is up. Or rather, down.

    18” Hamann PG1s look awesome on the E39 and measure a monster 10.25” wide up front with an offset of ET-10; no wonder those arches have been seriously massaged!

    DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E39 / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 / , five-speed automatic gearbox
    CHASSIS 10.25x18” ET-10 (front) and 11.25x18” ET+3 (rear) #Hamann-PG1 wheels with 235/35 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers (front), modified SLS (rear), rolled and pulled arches 10mm (front) and 17mm (rear)
    EXTERIOR Hamann front lip, black kidney grille, black door trims with M badges, #M-Tech roof spoiler
    INTERIOR Aluminium interior trim strips, M Tech pedals
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