- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED E39 M5 Business class just got faster
STRICTLY BUSINESS This executive saloon may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled, Matt Benson’s supercharged E39 M5 will easily cash any cheques your right foot can sign. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.
Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an age-old adage instilled in us during our youth. While it is one of the earliest morals taught, it is too often forgotten as we grow old. Taking past experiences and using them to make prejudices towards a result which we expect to be true can get us into trouble and that is the case with Matt Benson’s E39. What looks to be a civilized saloon is in actuality a complete and utter lunatic. Don’t be fooled – this unapologetic M5 will leave you scratching your head when launching from a red light or as it commands curves, winding through the mountains.
Maintaining a balance of ferocity and modesty is not an easy task and while on paper it might be contradictory, we assure you that Matt’s E39 M5 is a textbook example of a proper business saloon. The key to retaining modesty is doing without the wild colours, aggressive aero, and flashy wheels. Aesthetically, it has to be something to simply get you into work without being the topic of conversation among co-workers gathering around the water cooler. However, that commute to and from the office is a different, exhilarating story. In order to fully appreciate the final product, we need to briefly highlight the evolution of Matt’s mods and previous cars.
Matt Benson has always had an affinity for V8 muscle and taking the more subtle approach is something of second nature for him. His first car was a Ford Mustang 5.0 LX “Fox body” which, in a sense, was a sleeper in its time compared to its sister version, the Mustang GT. He drove that LX into the ground with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. After many advancements up the automobile food chain, Matt traded some American torque for German refinement as he found himself in another V8, but this time in the form of a 2000 E39 540i Saloon.
Though Matt was satisfied with the graduation to the European sports saloon and recognized it as a big improvement, the horsepower bug bit him hard. Dinan parts made their way all over the 540i to increase the performance in both the handling and the engine, pushing it to 350hp. Knowing his reasonable limitations had been met with the 540, yet still wanting more out of his car, Matt set his eyes on his current ride – this 2000 Carbon black on Caramel leather M5.
He found this car over a decade ago, desirably, with one previous owner and only 13,000 miles logged. Immediately, the performance difference was prominent between the 540i and the M5; the torque off the line and the way the car hooked in the corners didn’t leave him with seller’s remorse over the 540i. While he was tacking on roughly 50,000 miles of his own back and forth to the office and on spirited drives, Matt was continuously adding mods to enhance the performance even further. As superior as he felt the car was in comparison to his previous cars, it wasn’t quite enough. Relentless and back with a vengeance, the mod bug bit hard this time, and it did not let go.
Matt’s first modification to the M5 didn’t lead to horsepower gains per se. Back in 2005 he sourced a Dinan 3.55 differential and while it is one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a naturally aspirated car, ironically, it has nothing physically to do with the engine. Over the years it served its purpose, but as Matt says “I guess I modded a mod” and changed the rear end out to a 3.62. The tight gear ratio shifts the power band, launching the car and virtually making first gear useless in the best way possible. Surrounding the differential in the rear is a matching Dinan high performance exhaust, which flows out back from a Supersprint four-into-one stepped exhaust manifold system. Above the manifolds, under the bonnet, lies a Dinan cold air intake and Evolve Alpha-N tune with MAF delete and while this combination achieved Matt’s 450 horsepower goal, it was time to raise the bar yet again.
Chasing greater horsepower and maximising the NA bolt-ons, he crossed the threshold into the forced induction world. Matt commissioned Autocouture Motoring in northern NJ, well-known for its work with BMW and supercharging the E9x platform specifically, to do the work. The team installed an ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit. To handle the horsepower increase and fight the ravages of age, Autocouture also installed a Dinan subframe reinforcement kit at the same time as the performance upgrades. The combination of the Dinan differential chewing through first and second gear with the pull of the ESS supercharger and meth higher up the power band is a visceral experience that delivers an exceptional one-two punch.
In fact, when Matt was asked what his favorite modification to the car has been, he responded happily, “I have two favourites, the first being the supercharger, which brought the biggest smile to my face, and second would be the shorter diff, it’s like a 50hp equivalent increase!”
With all of this newly-added power he now addressed the other areas of importance: brakes and suspension. Matt went top shelf when choosing suspension, opting for the JRZ coilover kit and set the car up slightly lower than the stock ride height, maximising suspension travel and comfort while optimizing the performance that the JRZs offer. StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes at all four corners enhance the stopping power tremendously, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, both sets finished in silver to keep the M5’s modified appearance at a minimum.
Matt loved the car’s aesthetics, especially its finely crafted, unadulterated exterior however, he needed a wheel that would clear his brakes and be lighter in weight than stock, while still maintaining the M5’s factory appearance. Wanting to mimic the style of the OEM M5 wheel, Matt, along with the crew at ACM, carefully selected the HRE Classic 301 monoblocks. Taking it a step further, he went with HRE’s gorgeous, custom, hand-brushed finish with a darktinted clear coat, tying them in with BMW’s factory chrome shadow finish on the M5’s original wheels.
This M5’s interior is straight out of a #BMW catalogue with the smooth caramel-coloured hide flowing from the seats onto the extended leather lower dashboard, with just the right amount of wood trim. Nothing is out of place nor unnecessarily added. Under close examination, only an aluminium pedal set and short shift kit can be spotted in here and even at that point the SSK is still capped off by the stock wood knob to maintain the factory look and feel. Matt was highly selective with every modification made to his M5, and held the highest of standards for how this on-going project was executed.
“While the car is more than 16-years-old, it rivals anything on the road currently,” Matt says and we’d have to agree with him, it is completely relevant in every way to any of the European sports cars of today. The gentleman’s executive saloon is one that does not cry out for attention, but rather discretely delivers to those who know what they’re looking at. Each modification was carefully considered and completed with one goal in mind, which was to make the car perform at its full potential. His car takes everything that was incredible about the E39 M5 and sharpens it to to modern standards, making this one of the most fun cars you will ever drive.
“Autocouture Motoring installed an #ESS-Tuning-VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #ESS-VT1 / #ESS / #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech / #Howerton / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW / #ESS-Tuning
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , Supersprint four-into-one exhaust manifolds, #ESS-VT1-560 #ESS-Supercharger kit with #Vortech-V3 supercharger, #Howerton-Aquamist-HFS-3 system, Dinan performance velocity stacks, #Dinan high-flow performance exhaust, high capacity electric fan, oil separators. Six-speed manual gearbox, #CNS-Racing 10.5 Kevlar clutch and dualmass flywheel, Dinan short shifter kit, 3.62 LSD with three clutch ramps and polished ring and pinion gears
CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #HRE-301 monoblock wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Continental tyres, Dinan subframe reinforcement kit, Dinan front tower strut brace, Dinan camber plates and monoball front ball joint kit, #JRZ-Stage-3 suspension system from Dinan, #Beast-Power heavy-duty anti-roll bar brackets, #StopTech-ST60 BBK with six-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (front) and ST40 BBK with four-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Tinted windows, Depo angel eye upgrade kit, front lower bumper grille with aluminium mesh brake ducts
INTERIOR Black carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedal set, widescreen nav upgrade
THANKS Autocoulture Motoring (Tom Limatola, Sal Benanti, Matt Petrie and team) for bringing it to the next level, Northeast Motorsports (Mike O’Neill and team) for all their expertise, Motorsports West (Dave Bogert and team) for being the source of my performance BMW “condition”
Caramel Heritage leather adds a dash of luxury.
Gorgeous #HRE-301 monoblocks and #StopTech #BBK all-round.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFIRST WORDS
First things first, we begin this issue with an announcement: we have new bosses as PBMW now belongs to Kelsey Media Ltd, whereas before we were owned by Unity Media Plc. Obviously what you’re interested in is how this affects you, and it’s all good news. Most importantly, #PBMW isn’t going anywhere so you’re still going to get your regular modified BMW fix, no worries there, and while both cover and subscription prices have been adjusted you’re now getting 13 issues a year rather than 12, as the magazine will now be on sale every four weeks rather than once a month. This means even more modified #BMW goodness to wrap your reading gear around throughout the year. No complaints then!
Hopefully January didn’t drag you down too far and you’re on the up, getting excited about the prospect of warmer weather and hitting the shows. Got exciting new plans? New wheels? New paint? Ready to go or still planning? Whatever your situation, we can’t wait to see what’s new on the BMW scene once show season kicks off.
As for the right now, you’ve got the March issue in your hands to put a smile on your face and it’s packed full of awesomeness. Where to begin? How about with our cover car? Griot’s-Motors rocked SEMA with its insane E30 Touring and now it’s here to rock your world. This two-door, #V8-powered , M3-bodied machine is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and it’s an incredible build from top to bottom. We’ve also got 2M Autowerks’ awesome E46, which started out life as a 330Ci but now boasts a custom metal wide-body rear end, sits on HRE splits and then there’s the small matter of that S54 swap. Closer to home there’s an insane, #BMW-S62 #V8-swapped E34 drift beast, a wild 476hp 135i, and a super-clean E36 Touring for you to enjoy, plus our Car of the Year results!
In fact, there’s so much to enjoy that we should stop wasting time with idle chat and let you get on with reading the issue. We’ll see you next month.
Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCONTINENTAL DRIFT
It’s become an international sensation but the heart of drifting is in Japan. That’s not to say you have to use a Japanese car, however; you just have to get a little creative… 400HP E34 M5 V8-powered drift 5 Series S62 V8-swapped E34 drift machine. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Ade Brannan.
Drifting has come a long way from being the sole preserve of mischievous Japanese outlaws sneaking out for touge battles after dark. The sport has spread like wildfire across the globe, consuming everything in its path in a fug of dense tyre smoke. Of course, there are drifters and there are good drifters; any fool can kick a clutch and light up the rears but the true connoisseur has an ingrained knowledge of entry angles, balletic transitions, and all those technical tricks that are earned and learned rather than simply assumed.
Interestingly, the rise of the modern obsession with drifting neatly overlaps the demise of what archaeologists of the future will probably call ‘the fibreglass body kit era’. The modding fraternity’s enthusiasm for bolting massive, extravagant plastic addenda to humdrum shopping hatchbacks rapidly tailed off when they started seeing footage of big-power RWD cars atomising their tyres at high speed. And the timing of the fall of one phenomenon and the rise of the other is no coincidence. And Jeek Federico, owner of this slightly scary E34, straddles the two scenes rather effectively.
Now, it’s all very well teaching yourself to drift and honing a few cheeky skills, but it’s not like you can just do it out there on the Queen’s highway. You’ll be tugged by the fuzz in short order. And if you try to hang the tail out at Brands or Silverstone, you’ll be black-flagged straightaway, and probably blacklisted, too. But thankfully there’s a place on these innocent isles where such smoky shenanigans are actively encouraged: Driftland. It’s up there in Lochgelly in Scotland. Oh, and by chance, Jeek just happens to be the owner of the place. Handy, eh?
Driftland is the UK’s only dedicated drift venue, and it caters to all levels of enthusiasts who prefer to do their driving while looking through the side windows; seasoned veterans are welcome, but Jeek also runs a fleet of 15 or so E36 Drift School cars. Naturally he needs something pretty boisterous for his own car as well, to act as a showcase for all the place offers. And that’s where this E34 comes in. “I was looking for something to replace my E39 540i drift car that I’d owned for years,” he recalls. “I tried a few different Japanese models but hated them all. I’d known of this particular car for quite a few years and it came up for sale at just the right time; it had all the best bits of a big V8 German beauty that I loved, mixed with the agility and weight of a nimble Japanese car.”
Aha, you’re intrigued now, aren’t you? Because, you see, this isn’t just a strippedout travelling salesman special – it’s a custom-engineered lightweight with a German heart and a Japanese soul. The front end of the car is pretty much all Nissan S14 200SX, converted to run a JDM steering rack rather than the heavy old steering box. And the commitment to weight saving throughout the car is extensive and farreaching; even the single-wiper conversion runs an E46 Compact motor to shave off a few grams.
But don’t go wringing your hands just yet. It’s not all Japanese. Take a look at what’s going on under the bonnet, for example: the eagle-eyed and nerdy of engine code will have recognised this as an S62B50 – the hyperactively enhanced variant of the solid-as- a-rock M62 that you’d usually find under the bonnet of an E39 M5 (or, for those of a more exotic persuasion, the retro-futurist Z8 – y’know, the car James Bond sawed in half in that questionable 007 movie). This is a mighty motor, offering 400hp in factory tune; it’s got eight individual throttle bodies, hollow camshafts, and it’s just peachy.
“These engines don’t need a lot of modification,” Jeek assures us. “I’m running Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds and an Alpha N map with MAF delete but, aside from that, it hasn’t been messed with and it makes a solid 401hp.” He’s got it running through a five-speed manual ’box with a super-lightweight flywheel (this isn’t like a lazy, rumbling American V8, it’s an eager revver), while a Helix paddle-clutch makes short work of those fourth gear clutch kicks.
As you might imagine, the chassis that underpins all of this culture-clash fury is a bit of a mixed bag – part German, part Japanese, but all awesome. “The brakes are from an R33 Nissan Skyline at the front,” Jeek explains, “along with an E36 M3 Evo pedalbox and cylinder. The rear end is all E34 540i – it’s running zero camber to give perfect tyre wear and maximum grip from those 265/35s at 15psi.” Custom Apex coilovers suspend the thing, and you’ll find a variety of oriental flavours in the mix, too, from the likes of Tein and Doritech among others. The overriding theory behind the build is to ensure that every element of the car is focused on doing its job correctly; there’s nothing superfluous here, it’s all just hell-bent on destroying tyres in the most aesthetically alluring way possible. “The plan with it was always just to have fun, wreck tyres, and do huge top-of-fourth-gear smoky skids, all while advertising my business,” laughs Jeek. And his sense of fun is palpable throughout the E34. Sure, it’s aggressive and mean, but it’s also a little bit mischievous.
The choice of wheels presented a bit of head-scratching, not least because the car’s running different PCDs on either axle: 5x114 front and 5x120 rear. “I have always been a fan of dish and width,” he says. “My old E39 ran 10”-wide Rondels all-round, so the new car’s wheels had to be beefy specs, as well as being easily replaceable in the event of one getting damaged. I opted for the STYLE49 wheels from 7Twenty, in 10x17” on the front and 10.5x18” on the rear.”
They certainly complement the gorgeous paintwork very well. If the colour’s left you scrabbling through your memory banks of all the paint codes, it’s actually a Citroën shade named Whisper Purple. “I originally bought the car from my mate at Jankes BMW Spares,” says Jeek. “It was high off the ground, had crap wheels, and a terrible paint and sticker scheme. I had the body and paint all sorted out by the good guys at Toole Design. Along with the paintwork, the car was lowered and received a set of side skirts and a 1980s Zender splitter. The paint’s definitely my favourite thing that’s been done, as it looked rubbish before.”
While the look may be pin-sharp and ready to mingle with the heavies, it’s important to remember that this E34’s real party piece is its extraordinarily light weight. “It weighs just 1150kg wet,” Jeek explains. “To put that in context, that’s about the same as a new Fiesta.” Just absorb that fact for a moment: imagine a new Fiesta with 400hp, then consider the fact that they’re not even rear-wheel drive… the dedication to weight saving has been relentless and ruthless here.
“The theme for the interior was, quite simply, race car,” he grins. “There’s nothing in there that the car doesn’t need. That steering wheel is actually a genuine carbonfibre item from one of Ken Block’s M-Sport Focus rally cars. There’s also a pair of Motordrive seats with Driftland-branded harnesses (because sometimes you need to scare a passenger), a hydraulic handbrake, extinguishers, and that’s pretty much it.”
Which, of course, is just as it should be. The base car was a non-sunroof 530i but there’s not a whole lot of that left here now, aside from the essential silhouette. The attention to detail stretches way into the recesses that you wouldn’t spot, too. All the underseal has been scraped from the underneath, which has been painted grey, while the insides are a complementary grey and blue. Everything about the car screams purpose, but at the same time it’s a very considered build. The perfect tool, in fact, for advertising Driftland.
Is it the ultimate BMW drift car, then? Has Jeek nailed it this time? “Ah, I don’t know,” he considers, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I often think about what the next car might be, but I’m not sure what could be better – this engine in a 1M shell maybe? Or maybe some V10 M60 goodness?”
It’s a moot point for now, however, as this shouty workhouse is a harsh taskmaster. “It got quite crashed up this year, so it’ll be getting some fibreglass rear quarters made up, and at the same time the car might end up a different colour, as well as going a little lower,” he confirms. “And, hey, if money were no object, a flat-shift sequential and a supercharger would be nice.” Well, if this E34 is as effective an advert as it is a drift car, those dreams may well be coming true before long.
The plan was always to have fun, wreck tyres and do huge skids, all while advertising my business.
Interior has been stripped-out and fitted with a Huxley Motorsport roll-cage plus a pair of Motordrive seats
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-S62 / #BMW-V8 Drift / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #7Twenty / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-5-Series-Drift / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-E34-S62 / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-E34-Drift
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 , #Alpha-N map, new shells, Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds, #Doritech exhaust system (with V-bands for quick removal), #TTV-Racing lightweight single-mass flywheel with custom paddle and #Motorsport-Helix cover plate, 35-litre alloy tank underneath rear floorpan with #Bosch-044 pump and pressure gauge in bay, five-speed #ZF gearbox, 3.23 welded diff
CHASSIS 10x17” 5x114 (front) and 10.5x18” 5x120 (rear) #7Twenty-STYLE49 wheels, #Nissan-GTS 320mm fourpot front calipers with ventilated discs, 540i rear calipers with ventilated discs, rear subframe reinforced with adjustable camber and toe, #Powerflex bushes, front subframe modified to use Nissan steering rack, bottom #Nissan arms, front Nissan knuckles with adaptors to use #BMW wheels, #Doritech knuckles for extra lock, #Tein tie rods, #GKT-Tech castor arms and GKT Tech lower arms, hydraulic handbrake with 0.650 Wilwood pump, #Apex custom coilovers – 10/8kg damping adjustable
EXTERIOR E34 530i non-sunroof shell, Citroën Whisper Purple paint, underside painted grey, inside painted grey/blue, side skirts, #Zender splitter from the 1980s
INTERIOR #Huxley-Motorsport roll-cage with extension to front turrets, #M-Sport/Ken Block carbon fibre steering wheel, E34 #BMW-M5-E34 instrument cluster and kick plates, #Motordrive seats, #Driftland harnesses, Coolerworks gearshifter, power steering cooler, #Lexan windows, flocked dash, M3 Evo servo and pedalbox, extra gauges for oil/water temperature/oil pressure/fuel, flick switches, custom wiring with fuse/relay panel, single wiper conversion running E46 Compact motor, #Zero-2000 plumbed-in extinguisher, 1kg hand-held fire extinguisher, small battery with fibreglass box and cut-off switchStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAWESOME BMW M5 Looks good, goes great
How do you improve upon one of the best driving cars #BMW ever put together? Take a leaf out of Andrew Berger’s book. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
Styled and tuned E39 M5
There can’t be many father and sons that have individually made it on to the pages of Performance BMW with their Bavarian beasts. In fact, Andrew and Josh Berger may well be the first. Josh’s E36 M3 was featured in November last year. It’s a concours-standard build that’s been reverted back to its Luxurious spec and slammed on a set of CCW LM5Ts.
With a few choice engine and chassis mods, it’s a show stopper, track car and daily driver rolled into one. And now a year later, it’s his father’s turn to take the spotlight. The E39 M5 is arguably the best performance saloon BMW ever made, and it’s already becoming sought after by collectors and driving enthusiasts. Having reached modern classic status, various finance and automotive publications of late are claiming that it’s set to soar in value. In fact, Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics (a man who makes a living out of buying the right collectible cars) claims an immaculate low mileage model is sure to appreciate.
It’s something I’ve been saying for the past year and I now find myself not getting very far with writing this feature as I scour Pistonheads and AutoTrader looking for one and trying to persuade my husband that this should be our new family car. Suffice to say we definitely couldn’t afford the one that was recently up for grabs at a dealership in Ohio. With just 309 miles on the clock the asking price was $149,999.
Anyway, if I’m to meet this deadline without burning the midnight oil I really must get back to the task in hand. A man fascinated with form and function, we’re surprised to learn that Andrew has only been interested in BMWs for the past 15 years, but suffice to say ever since the day he first drove one he was hooked. He did go on to own that very car, an E46 330i, but not before going through a few other 3, 5 and M Series cars. If truth be told, though, he always had his sights set on an E39 M5: “This car has been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line,” confesses the 60-year-old.
He bought the car in May last year from Gas Motorcars, a local dealership in Marietta, Georgia, that specialises in exotic, classic and luxury cars and also happens to be where his son works. He traded in his E36 M3 and M Roadster for it together with a pile of 100 dollar bills. The car had already received a few exterior modifications – some of which were a little OTT for Andrew’s taste, so the first job was to take off what he didn’t like.
As such the car now wears a Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, front and rear spoilers from AC Schnitzer, ECS Tuning brake duct grilles, a painted matt black kidney grille, angel eye headlights and a painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds, all of which combine to make a more aggressive statement without detracting from Chris Bangle’s original lines. The staggered 19” DPE Forged wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware are the perfect finishing touches.
When it came to the interior, Andrew wanted to keep things simple again so he’s retained most of the stock parts (bar the Schroth Racing harnesses) but brought them into the 21st century. As such the steering wheel, sun visors, doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters have been retrimmed in black Alcantara complete with M tri-colour stitching, while the Nineties wood trim has been painted silver and the instrument rings have been swapped out for custom-made aluminium items.
The in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver from Pioneer is the only clue to a custom audio install which resides in the boot and includes a pair of JL Audio W7 10” subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, which are connected up to a set of Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters. Despite having the unbeatable soundtrack of a brutal V8 under the bonnet, the ICE is Andrew’s favourite: “I love taking this car out on a Sunday, putting on my favourite playlist and enjoying my ultimate driving machine,” he tells us.
Saying that, we’re pleased to hear the engine side of things haven’t been ignored. With 400hp already on tap, sensibly Andrew has gone for a selection of mods that help to improve the breathing of the high-revving 5.9-litre engine. The combination of an AFE Stage 2 air intake, custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap by Buckhead Imports and an Eisenmann Race exhaust system not only gives the car extra horsepower, but it also lets the engine rev more eagerly and helps the lazy V8 burble really come out of its shell.
The six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag was critically acclaimed for its slick performance, but improvements can always be made. To that end a UUC short shifter, lightweight clutch and flywheel, have really helped to transform an already revered driving experience with quicker gear changes and improved throttle response. “Getting it past 6000rpm puts a smile on my face every time,” he says and we can certainly believe that.
When you factor in the host of suspension upgrades he’s made, including KW Variant 3 coilovers, Dinan strut tower bar and shock tower brace to help the car feel more planted, responsive and tauter, together with a Brembo GT big brake kit up front and slotted StopTech discs with Hawk pads out back to better haul in the power, Andrew now has the confidence to push this sizeable saloon harder on Georgia’s finest scenic and twisty roads.
Andrew’s plans for the future are to simply maintain its prestige and, with just 55,000 miles on the clock, keep it for Sunday best, and who can blame him? With supercar- chasing performance in a package that is discreet and practical, the E39 M5 is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Andrew’s sympathetic approach in modifying is a great lesson to anyone thinking of buying one of these Q cars. Right, can I go back to scouring the classifieds again now, please?
“This car’s been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line”
“I love taking this car out and enjoying my ultimate driving machine”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #S62B50 / #BMW-S62 / #S62 / #DPE / #AFE / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 , #AFE-Stage-2 air intake, Buckhead Imports custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap, full #Eisenmann race exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, UUC lightweight clutch and flywheel, UUC Evo 3 short-shifter
CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET16 (f) and 11x19” ET16 (r) #DPE-Forged-ST7-Hybrid wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware with 245/35 (f) and 285/35 (r) Toyo T1R tyres, #KW-Variant-3 Coilovers, #Dinan strut tower bar & shock tower brace. #Brembo-GT big brake kit (f) and slotted #StopTech discs and Hawk pads (r), #Turner-Motorsports stainless steel brake lines all-round
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, kidney grille painted matt black, LED angel eye headlights, ECS Tuning brake duct grille, #AC-Schnitzer front and rear spoilers, custom painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds
INTERIOR Doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters, steering wheel and sun visors retrimmed in black Alcantara with M tri-colour stitching, silver painted trim, custom aluminium instrument rings, Schroth Racing harnesses, full custom boot install with two JL Audio W7 subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, Pioneer in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver, Hertz speakers, mids and tweetersStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationUnleashing the Beast Supercharged E39 M5
The E39 M5 is still a fantastic performer, even more so when its packing a supercharger. The E39 M5 has always been a wonderful performer but thanks to a full rebuild and a supercharger conversion this one feels factoryfresh and wondrously rapid. Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.
Stunning supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-S62 / #S62-Supercharged / #S62B50
The E39 M5 does brooding. Those M5s that have succeeded it may have offered more power, faster acceleration, and much more electronic gadgetry but that latent kerbside menace, dished up in spiteful quantities by a ubiquitous Carbon black E39 still can’t be toppled. Then there’s the purity of the mechanical recipe: it seems the debate grows ever stronger around cars that do most of it for you and those that put the driver in the centre of the action. Who’s to say who is right or wrong on this subject, but three pedals, a gear lever, and a glorious naturally aspirated V8 will always define the E39 M5.
Take a look at this particular M5. It has the brooding thing down to perfection, and while at first glance it might not be obvious why, there are a few details that enhance that quality. Study the front wheels, for example, and note how they fill the arches so convincingly; observe the little lip spoiler that ties the front down to the ground. And listen too, if only you could of course, to the industrial throb that’s being emitted from those quad tailpipes: loud, but not too shouty. Not crass. Just menacing. I don’t know about you but the sense of anticipation for me has already just broken the gauge.
This car is the work of a company called WaffZuff, a contraction of Waffen-aus-Zuffenhausen, and specifically of a man by the name of Raikku. He’s well known in M car circles (and in the world of Porsche, hence the company name) and E39 M5s are something of a speciality.
It’s quite a sobering thought that the E39 M5 is now getting on for 18 years old (at least for those of us of a certain age). There are still quite a few haunting the mainstream classifieds but many are in need of substantial work as they reach the end of their ‘first’ lives. A tired E39 M5 has all the potential of a major financial headache for the unwary. That means when WaffZuff carry out a project such as this one, there’s as much restorative work going on as there is tuning. Take this actual car, which required the refresh of almost every component, and included a new engine block into the deal.
In fact, this car has the last available new right-hand-drive engine block from the factory, according to Raikku. The engine was built up from there, with components bead blasted first, then plated or powdercoated to look factory-fresh. Every sensor from the oil level at the bottom to the throttle position sensor at the top has been replaced, along with other items such as the water pump. Where rebuilding was more practical, that too has taken place, such as with the alternator.
The heart of this conversion is an RK Autowerks Stage 2 supercharger kit, comprising a Vortech V3si ’charger, intercooler, carbon fibre plenum and pipework, and high-flow injectors, amongst other items. This has been teamed with exhaust manifolds, race-spec cats and a custom map, all from Evolve.
The result is a standout figure of 620hp and, perhaps even more importantly, over 500lb ft of torque. Naturally, the work on the car doesn’t end there. The engine is connected to the drivetrain via a carbon/Kevlar clutch with a single mass flywheel that Raikku has made back in Germany, while the differential is now a custom 40 per cent locking unit. The gear mechanism has benefitted from a short-shift kit more usually found in an E60 545i, while those exhaust pipes just visible at the rear betray the Hamann back boxes fitted.
Bilstein B8 dampers and Intrax springs now suspend this M5; Raikku tells us, “every bit of the suspension was rebuilt and plated”. Powerflex bushes are used throughout, and the rear differential carrier has been reinforced to cope with the mayhem unleashed at the rear wheels. The front brakes now feature #BMW-Performance calipers and discs designed for the E90 Series cars, but with WaffZuff custom caliper brackets. A set of rear M5 rims are now also used on the front axle, hence that broadshouldered look clearly visible in the photos. This means the standard eight-inch front rims and their 245/40 ZR 18s are replaced with the 9.5-inch rear wheels and a 275/35 ZR18 tyre. Raikku’s not a big fan of understeer, it transpires.
The only other obvious exterior modifications are the subtle rear diffuser and front lip spoiler from Slimmbones, plus the deletion of the front foglamps. That’s more than enough spec detail, though; it’s time for a drive.
“It’s a bit of a handful”, says Raikku pensively. We’ve been talking about the 40 per cent locking diff specifically, but I can extrapolate that this might apply to the whole car. Particularly so given that we’re driving it in January, in temperatures just above freezing, and that the roads are smothered at this time of the morning with a layer of greasy near-frozen emulsion that has yet to be burned off by the enthusiastic but weedy sunshine. “Just keep it on the throttle until it’s straight again so it doesn’t have a nasty load change, because it is more aggressive,” Raikku advises. Understood.
Among the numerous details tidied up by Raikku is a new seat cushion for the driver’s seat, which now locates my posterior into a cabin that may have aged in design but still looks so right to these eyes. I find it fascinating, and not to say a little bit depressing, that on the day I drive the WaffZuff car I happen to be driving around in a nearly new BMW M4, and the sheer quality of the old timer is blatantly obvious. I’m talking about the way the door closes and the noise it makes as it does so; the action of the switchgear, the feel of the materials, the way there isn’t one single rattle in this old car while the M4 creaks all over the place. I know the M5 is a class of car above but it really reinforces the impression that the latest products are very much built for the Personal Contract Purchase generation. I don’t know about you but I get a real kick out of simply being in something that feels as well-engineered as this old M5.
The temptation is to mash the throttle into the carpet and feel all hell break loose, but I’m not going to. That would be more than a bit childish, and in these conditions, probably foolish, but I also want to get the sense of this M5 as a cohesive, or otherwise, car. It’s one thing to create a big sports saloon with 600hp in your workshop but what about the finer points of the conversion? I’m talking about low-speed drivetrain refinement, throttle sensitivity and progressiveness on part throttle and at different load points, ride quality, brake feel, even the acoustics. In some ways these are the even greater challenges, especially for a small company, to get right.
And so I try to pull away from the WaffZuff workshop as serenely as possible and, via the petrol station, amble around this corner of Hertfordshire in as subtle a way as is possible while the oil comes up to working temperature. Raikku has already warned me that the lighter clutch and flywheel combination makes its presence felt, and that’s true, but it’s not to a great extent and apart from that it doesn’t feel much different to the experience of driving the standard car. The ride is really good, the engine docile but with the heavy thud of a potent V8 always in the background; the conclusion has to be that you could use this car every single day without issue. It’s always really rewarding to drive a car that responds exactly to how you drive it – good or bad. This car does, and that’s why it’ll always hold more appeal to me than an F10.
Predictably, there is a massive Jekyll and Hyde moment approaching here and it is the single most hilarious thing about this car. One moment you can be driving around peacefully; the car is, in a way, quite relaxing because the drivetrain is smooth and the low murmur of the #V8 soporific. Then you squeeze in that torque and there’s a sense of the whole car snapping taut, of huge amounts of energy thrust upon the rear wheels. If there was dry asphalt beneath us I’ve no doubt it would accelerate with immense conviction, but instead today the DSC light flashes valiantly, nay, hysterically, and it’s obvious that a really sensitive right foot is required. When you can hook it up the car simply bounds down the road, with enough force to leave our photographer Gus giggling away and clinging onto his camera.
That it is manically quick is patently obvious; you can either select a higher gear and use the torque, or really make things exciting and try and contain all that power in a lower gear. It certainly gives the driver many options on country roads and I have to keep reminding myself that fourth, even fifth, gear will suffice for the situation because there’s so much torque available, particularly when squirting between closely stacked corners.
There’s no doubt the E39 M5 is a big chunky car. Its dimensions must be closer to a current 3 Series than an F10 5 Series, but at around 1800kg it’s much heavier and it does feel it, albeit not in a clumsy way. As you might expect, this car feels fresh and alert, and the extra grip generated across the front axle really gives you more confidence to push on that bit harder.
It’s been too long since I’ve driven a standard E39 M5 to say for certain, but despite the low-grip surface it’s possible to lean on the front-end grip in a way I don’t think you could safely consider before. Whether it’s those wider tyres or the suspension changes that are responsible for the subtle improvement to the steering it’s hard to say for sure. It always has been the weak point of the E39 M5, due to not being able to fit the rack and pinion system of other Fives in the engine bay alongside the V8. However, there is a definitely a more connected feel to the way this car responds, perhaps borne from the slightly higher steering forces required.
Does it go sideways on demand? Yes, of course. Almost anywhere, and on a day like today, in any gear. Get feisty with the accelerator pedal and the rears spin up instantly, but it’s a car you can get a hold of and really enjoy driving. The impression is that it won’t suffer fools. I think it’s safe to say that about any car that channels over 600hp through the rear wheels, but with the DSC off I find no nasty surprises and it’s hard to resist getting the tail moving through slow corners or out of junctions. With a car such as this one, you just have to.
Raikku reckons it will cost around £45,000 to restore and then modify an E39 M5 to this level, including the purchase of the car. However, if you’re happy with Carbon black, you can buy this one for £31,000, via Waff Zuff.
I’ve always held the E39 M5 in a near-saintly regard, and the thought of adding a large chunk of extra power by forced induction had my purist-led preconceptions nagging at me all the way to Raikku’s workshop this morning. The sheer duality of purpose of this car, and the potency of performance on offer, soon had them banished before you can say ‘and there’s wheelspin as I change up into fourth gear’.
THANKS TO: Raikku at WaffZuff Tel: +44 7534 659055 Web: www.waffzuff.co.uk
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- Post is under moderationEASTERN PROMISE Japanese wide-body Z8
THE BODY BEAUTIFUL
Japan loves BMWs and isn’t afraid to do things a bit differently when it comes to modifying them, like turning a Z8 into a wide-body masterpiece, for example… Considering less than 6000 Z8s were ever made, would you have the confidence to chop one up? Fortunately for us Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki did, thus creating something rather special… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
Modifying a low-volume car is always a scary proposition. After all, if you mess it up it’s not like you can simply go to online and find replacement parts easily. It may take weeks, months or even years to source the right components and restore things to their former glory. Such is the case with the Z8, as only 5703 were produced over its four-year life span. Okay, it may not be an E46 GTR but it’s still a low-volume car by most people’s standards. It’s also arguably among the most beautiful BMWs ever made. With its flowing compound curves and classic roadster proportions, the Henrik Fisker-designed exterior is a future classic. Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking to think about altering those lines.
Thankfully, the confidence and skill to do that is not something Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki has ever really lacked. The founder of Japan’s largest BMW tuning chain – Studie AG – and creator of a string of high-profile cars that act as both his personal vehicles and demo cars for his business, Suzuki-san has seemingly never had an issue altering cars (some in quite extreme ways) to suit his needs.
Take, for example, the cars Suzuki-san built after selling the Z8 to its current owner. First there was a bright blue E87 130i complete with factory Motorsport wide-body kit. Then there was a neon pink wide-body E46 M3. Then a bright green Z4 M Coupé with another genuine Motorsport wide-body kit. Currently, Suzuki-san drives a bright orange i8, with a matching i3 for city duties and while they’re not wide-body cars, there’s no guarantee it’s off the cards.
So it’s clear, Suzuki-san likes the wide-body look; in fact, you could say he really, really likes them. However, the issue with making one of the world’s only wide-body Z8s was that, unlike Suzuki-san’s future creations, there wasn’t a factory kit available to do so. This meant that he and his team had to make it themselves.
They started by designing a kit that would add width but look factory. After all, while Suzuki-san clearly has a penchant for loud colours, judging by his later cars, the body panels themselves were almost always OEM. That level of integration was the goal. Next, they made the one-off moulds, then laid up all the fibreglass and painted it white.
It’s hard to argue with the results. Those guards draw your eye initially, of course, adding real muscularity to the Z8’s clean lines. Next, your gaze is drawn down to the flowing side skirts and towards the widened and tweaked front and rear bumpers, complete with aero additions. If you linger long enough you might also notice the stock bonnet has gained some added raciness via custom vents.
The design’s crowning achievement, though, is that level of seamlessness. If you had never seen a Z8 before, you’d never think it wasn’t factory. Yes, the 19” BBS LMs, Brembo six-pots up front (four-pots out the back) and lowered stance on one-off Studie coilovers are a dead giveaway the car’s been tuned but the unsuspecting might only think Suzuki-san had dropped it and added some extra grip and braking. The kit is that natural.
Inside, though, things are a little less discrete. The red leather trim is all stock, but the custom-trimmed Recaro SPG buckets certainly aren’t. Neither are the Atiwe wheel and Schnitzer shift knob. And that completely unique silver carbon dash trim? Yeah, that’s pretty obvious, too. It also highlights a specific need for navigational assistance when driving in Tokyo – something the Z8 never came with from the factory. Again demonstrating the skill and care with which the car was built, though, the Pioneer Carrozzeria headunit looks stock. If the dash was the regular silver plastic, the average Joe would probably think it had been installed in Munich prior to Suzuki-san’s purchase.
Under the bonnet we see a return to the exterior’s integrated theme. The S62 V8 never lacked power but the Okada Projects Plasma Ground secondary spark enhancer and Plasma Direct coils ensure the driver gets the most out of the air/fuel mix, while also remaining invisible to the casual observer. The near factory-looking AFE intake kit and well-hidden Hamann exhaust manifolds, which eventually connect to a one-off Studie silencer, ensure the engine now breathes a little easier and makes a much nicer noise, too. There’s the mandatory performance car bark at start-up and a well-controlled rumble at idle, followed by a lovely smooth roar as the revs rise. It reminds you there’s a reason why so many small performance car makers have used this engine over the years.
Essentially, looking at the car as a whole, it’s clear that what Suzuki-san and the Studie team have done is to take everything that made the Z8 great and made it better. That’s some skill.
Sadly, though, in space-poor Japan, Suzuki-san had to sell the Z8 in 2005 in order to move onto his aforementioned later projects, so this is where current owner Kohama-san comes in.
Kohama-san initially got into the scene after being taken to watch street drag racing many years back, when these things were still a relatively common sight on Japanese roads. He decided then and there that he wanted to drive fast cars. Initially, he started out with classic JDM metal, like an SA22C RX-7 (which apparently burnt to the ground after an engine fire on the Wangan post-sale) and a 3.1 litre ‘full-tune’ L28-engined S130 Z, but soon moved onto BMWs. “They’re just really well-balanced, well-rounded cars,” he says.
Despite his sports car roots, Kohama-san’s first BMW was actually rather sedate, even if it didn’t stay that way for long. An E39 530i Touring, he modified it so it sported Alpina suspension, a Supersprint silencer, #BBS RGRs and M5 body parts. After that came an E61 530i Touring, this time with ACS body parts, ARC suspension, Arqray muffler, 20-inch BBS LM-R wheels and enormous eight-pot Brembos. He did head back to his sports car roots eventually, though, with a Z3 and E85 Z4, both modified with Bilstein suspension, Recaro seats, Schnitzer aero etc. before shifting back again to practicality with his current ACS F31 320i Touring.
All this BMW history meant he spent a lot of time at Studie’s Tokyo HQ, and not just as a customer. Like many of Studie’s clients, Kohama-san spends a lot of spare time there just hanging out and chatting with the staff (when they’re not busy with other work), as Studie stores tend to be more like car culture centres rather than just dreary retail and tuning outlets. Because of all this time spent at Studie, Kohama-san was among the first to know that Suzuki-san was selling his pride and joy. And as soon as he heard about it, he was off to the bank. “It was love at first sight,” he says.
Even better, the car’s timeless beauty and evocative driving experience means he falls “more in love with it every passing year”. “My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it,” Kohama-san says. “It blows away the cobwebs so, of course, I drive it whenever I can.” That means the Z8 is more of a daily driver than a garage queen. Cruising through the city or blasting up mountain roads, this is one #Z8 that gets used. In a world where more and more high-end sports cars are squirreled away for investment rather than enjoyment, it’s refreshing to hear.
Further proving just how special this Z8 is, it’s worth noting that out of all his other BMWs we mentioned earlier this is the only one Kohama-san has held onto over the last ten years. Of course, it’s easily the most unique and rare, but uniqueness and starvalue haven’t stopped others around the world from selling amazing cars after only short periods of time, so it suggests there really is something special about this particular car.
Sadly, not everyone seems to agree, though, as the one negative experience Kohama-san has had over his ten-year ownership period is that the paint ended up being deliberately damaged by some low-life a few years back. Thankfully, Kohama-san got it fixed and, as mentioned, isn’t any more cautious about driving it. He has, however, “become obsessed with applying protective coatings to it” ever since. Of course, this unfortunate event does suggest the ‘lucky’ numberplates Kohama-san has on there (which have been blanked out for privacy purposes), and that he religiously puts on every car he owns can’t protect him from all calamities; but then, what can?
As for the future, the car is now 15 years old so some parts are due for replacement. Specifically, Kohama-san is thinking about refreshing the suspension components, although given the car runs custom coilovers right now, finding off-the-shelf replacements might be difficult. He might just have to go back to Studie Tokyo and ask the helpful staff there if they can make him some new ones. No doubt they’d be happy to oblige, especially as it will mean keeping this unique stunner on the roads for a few more years.
DATA FILE #Studie-AG wide-body #BMW-Z8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Studie-AG / #BBS-LM / #Getrag / #BBS /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 / #BMW / , #AFE intake kit, #Hamann exhaust manifolds, Studie one-off silencer, #Okada-Projects-Plasma-Ground secondary spark enhancer, #Okada Projects Plasma Direct coils. Stock #Getrag-420G six-speed manual, short-shift kit.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #BBS LM wheels with 255/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, Studie custom coilovers front and rear with Studie custom springs, Brembo six-piston brake calipers (front), Brembo fourpiston calipers (rear), two-piece #Brembo discs front and rear.
EXTERIOR Studie one-off wide-body front and rear arches, wide-body side skirts, front and rear bumpers with front splitter and rear diffuser, bonnet ducts in stock bonnet
INTERIOR Custom retrimmed #Recaro-SPG one-piece bucket seats, Atiwe steering wheel, OEM aluminium pedals, AC Schnitzer shift knob, #Studie one-off silver carbon interior trim panels, #Pioneer-Carrozzeria navigation headunit
My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it.
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- Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interio Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interior, it was an incredible machine. More ...
- Post is under moderation600HP #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 HAMMERTIME / #BMW-M5-E39 /
Supercharged beast unleashed. This supercharged E39 M5 delivers a mighty 600hp blow. There aren’t many ways you can improve on an E39 M5, although adding a supercharger is one of them. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.
I reckon the E39 M5 is the best one out of the lot. Okay, the E28 and E34 are purer, the E60 is wilder and the F10 is faster, but as an overall package, taking into account size, performance, value and feel, the E39 M5 is the one, unless my numbers came up in which case I’d be all over an F10. I’m sure we all feel the same. But even if you don’t strike it big, you can always strap a supercharger to your E39 M5 and enjoy some pretty epic performance, which is exactly what Paul Harding did.
“I’ve known this car for ten years,” he begins, “since my friend Tim, who I met through the VX220 owners’ club, bought it. We both had black VX220 Turbos at the time. He sold his and bought this M5 and I sold mine and got a VW Mk1 Polo and a shop to turn into flats! Over the following years I went through many cars and Tim kept the M5. He loved it and spent a fortune on it. I always loved it, too, and eight years later I bought my own E39 M5. It wasn’t as good as his but my plan was to take the engine out and put it in my chromie E30. I found one at a good price and bought it unseen as I wanted a donor. I also bought all the parts for the swap. Then I started driving the M5 and loved it. I used it daily. I drove it hard, took it drifting and even drove it to Le Mans. It made 404hp despite having 170k miles on the clock. I loved it so much that I kept it for a further two years until Tim mentioned that he was selling his. I jumped at the chance and said I’d have it before he’d even said a price!
“The car was very well-specced from the factory, so has the M audio, glass roof, privacy glass (good for the baby), Alcantara roof and pillars, etc. He was in no hurry to sell as he was waiting for his new Jag F Type R Coupé to be made, which gave me time to sell mine before buying his.
He had already spent a fortune on it over the years, it wanted for nothing, so I knew it was perfect for me to take further. It had lots on it that I’d have chosen myself and lots of little touches like the F10 5 Series gear knob, Z3 short shift, later steering wheel and sat nav, LED bulbs throughout and then the important bits like the custommade first set of Van Manen exhaust manifolds. It had also been to Hayward and Scott a few times to get the exhaust to sound as good as it does now. It’s a tad loud in some places but so much fun. The car had also been full polybushed and was on BC Racing coilovers with adjustable top mounts, a strut brace and massive StopTech front brakes.” With such a good base and so many choice mods already carried out, it was only going to be a matter of time before Paul took things to the next level.
“Tim had always talked about supercharging it,” Paul continues. “He’d looked into it for years but with the costs involved, he’d always bottled it. So as soon as I bought the car, I made it my goal to make his old car faster than his new £92k Jag! My wife and I went on one last holiday on our own before we had children. We went to the US and while I was there I spoke to the guys at ESS and ended up coming away with their new Gen 2 supercharger kit. While I was there it seemed silly not to upgrade the kit to bigger injectors and get a smaller pulley and belt to get over 600hp. The ESS guys know people who run nearly 700hp on standard internals so it was definitely going to deliver some serious power. I had the oil tested in the car to check it was all safe for the kit and it got the green light. Knowing the history of the car was a bonus and I knew it had benefitted from regular oil changes and plenty of love. I packed the kit into two extra suitcases and the actual supercharger came back in my wife’s handbag. Security wasn’t too happy and gave me a thorough going over as they had no idea what it was but luckily it got through in the end.
“When I got back to the UK I set about fitting the kit myself. I’m very fussy and took my time fitting it to make sure everything was perfect. The kit is, without doubt, the best aftermarket item I have ever seen. I initially fitted it with the larger pulley and 100-cell race cats and on its very first outing it drove perfectly and made 520hp on a base map. Once the ’charger was run-in I swapped to the smaller pulley and belt. Then my good friend Roy removed the cats altogether. I then fitted meth injection. ESS said it wasn’t really needed in the UK due to the lower temperatures but I wanted to be safe, so in it went. It’s all as hidden as it can be with the tank in the boot and I can also switch it on and off from a hidden switch. Then in went in a new fuel pump and a tweak to the map. After all this work I was pleased to find that it broke the 600hp barrier. It made 604hp to be exact but I’ve kept everything looking as standard as possible.
There are no silly gauges or anything to give away what’s under the bonnet. If I need to check anything I just run an OBD2 Bluetooth dongle and use my phone to check up on everything.
“The car is totally drivable. I get in it, start it, put the kid in and off I go. It runs a standard clutch as they are also good up to 700hp, so it drives like a stock car if needed – it’s just a lot louder!” With over 600hp to play with, this E39 M5 is every bit as devastatingly fast as you might imagine.
Remember Paul’s friend with the brand-new, £95k Jag? We’ll let Paul tell the story: “At one of our regular pub meets we went for a drive together and the M5 happily pushed Tim’s new Jag up the road so he’s gone and put a smaller pulley on it and had it mapped to 620hp!” Paul chuckles.
From the outside (when it’s not running, at least) there’s very little that gives that game away. The ride height and wheels aren’t likely to set any alarm bells ringing for most, and while the E39 M5 is still a fast car, it’s been eclipsed many times over by newer metal so no one would be expecting to see one head for the horizon at quite such a rate of knots.
The stance of this E39 is pretty fierce – those BC Racing coilovers have been wound down and this car sits low, and looks awesome with it. “When I got it I set about making it sit better so with a few spacer and suspension tweaks I got it sitting just the way I like it. I’d have it even lower if I could but it squats so hard under power I didn’t want the wheels to rub,” says Paul. “Wheel-wise it went from standard wheels to a square setup running the wider rears all-round, then onto BBS LMs and then to the Rotas you see now.” And while Rotas sometimes get a some stick, we think that these are great-looking wheels that really suit the look of the E39 M5. As 19s they really fill the arches and are arguably the best size of wheel for this generation of Five. Plus, the wide-set spokes on these wheels are the perfect way to show off those massive brakes up front. The E39 isn’t exactly lightweight and all that extra power means they are a most welcome addition to the performance arsenal here.
Good though this M5 may look in the pictures, there’s one thing that this magazine simply can’t convey, and that’s the noise. I’m a huge fan of V8s, especially the sound, and as Paul mentioned earlier, the car is running a Hayward and Scott system with no cats in sight. As a result it sounds absolutely apocalyptic – vicious, hard-edged and just so incredibly loud; it’s absolutely ridiculous and sublime in equal measure. I don’t know if I could live with it every day but hearing it was a real delight and I take my hat off to Paul for his commitment to that V8 soundtrack. Unfortunately, as is often the case, now that the car has peaked it’s up for sale. “I bought it as a keeper,” Paul tells me, “my wife was pregnant at the time with our first child so I wanted a car she could go in, a fun family car that I could go and drive for fun on my own, too. Unfortunately with a new baby and so many projects I could now do with selling this to fund the restoration of one of my 911s.”
While it’s always sad to have to say goodbye to a much-loved four-wheeled member of the family, at least the money will be going to a good cause, even if it’s not from #Bavaria . Most important of all is the fact that after wanting an E39 M5, Paul has owned two and taken his second to its supercharged zenith, something many of us dream of but few are able to financially commit to. With 600hp, a soundtrack like thunder and room for the family, a supercharged E39 M5 really is about as good as it gets.
DATA FILE / ESS / 600hp / #BMW
ENGINE: 4.9-litre V8 #S62B49 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , #ESS-Generation-2 supercharger kit, larger #Bosch injectors, smaller 92mm pulley, mapped by #Asbjorn at ESS, Coolmist meth injection kit, #Van-Manen exhaust manifolds, Hayward and Scott custom exhaust system with de-cat, six-speed manual gearbox, standard clutch, short-shift kit. 604hp.
CHASSIS: 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Rota-Grid wheels, #BC-Racing coilovers, adjustable top mounts, new bushes, front strut brace, #StopTech front #BBK with six-pot calipers and 355x32mm two-piece discs.
EXTERIOR: Full Le Mans blue respray except roof, carbon rear diffuser.
INTERIOR: Alcantara headlining, sun visors and pillars, F10 M5 gear knob, M audio package, tinted windows.
We went for a drive together and the M5 happily pushed Tim’s new Jag up the road.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.