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    600HP #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.
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