e39 540i

IMG_1867_4efd037cf04cf-lightboxBack in 2009 I was in the lookout for a 540i.

It took me months to find the color combo I wanted (Silver on black leather). I did not really know what to expect, having driven 3 series for years before that.

I read as much as I could possibly do before I decided to pull the trigger on the 4.4L V8, still, there were lots of unknowns.

Anyway I did not want to pay a lot, since bringing back the car home to Dublin would set me back by another 3000 euro (1500 euro for car registration + another 1500 to get the 12 months road tax) on the top of the original purchase price I would pay to the UK seller. Back at that time, there was not a single 540i for sale in Ireland for months. The likes of Donedeal, Carzone had none. So I had no choice than going over the UK.

So I found one that looked promising for 2100£. I spoke to the seller a good few times, asked for registration and VIN number, got them checked out no problem, asked for service history, there was tons of it. Really looked like a sweet deal, so off I went to meet up the seller in Holyhead on that beautiful Saturday morning.

The seller told me beforehand he lost his job and needed to switch the car quickly. I was told there was some misfires and that the car needed some TLC, I saw that on the pictures he sent me, that did not look like a huge job. Well so I thought…

Anyway, the deal done and the car now mine, I wasted no time to fill that tank at the local Tesco petrol station in Holyhead and headed back home in that boat with a big smile on my face, that probably lasted weeks before I discovered the car that I had bought was a lemon, literally.

Willing to fix the misfires issue, which was barely noticeable honestly, I changed the spark plugs, to discover to my horror that they were covered in oil. I don’t know how this engine was running, but seriously it was and the car was quick, on the other hand, the only e39 I drove before was a 520d, so I had no reference to compare really.

Anyway off the BMW shop I went to get those rocker covers gaskets changed (Most likely cause to my issue I thought), not even settled back at my desk at work that they call me to delivered me with a dreadful bad news. “Mick, one of the head is cracked and has been welded by smurfs and is covered with some sort of man made gunky gasket”. What a shock, how could I have missed that. Well it turned out it is buried a bit low.

At that stage I was wondering should I call the seller or what. Well whatever, this was a private sale, the guy is going to tell me he was not aware etc, I did not want to lose my nerves with that and can not imagine what I would have done to this fella.

I got done and took it like a man. That’s what I told myself. Especially because I had already sent over 6000 in total, which include new facelift headlights, Koni shocks and interior titan silver trim. So what, should I have sent the car for crushing? A part from this the car was pretty sound. Ok some minor TLC, but nothing major. Oh well, I forgot this engine job…

So off I went for the chase of a M62 4.4 L of 1st generation, bloody hell, it took me like 2 months to find one. Fab Direct had none for weeks, other major names had none either, eBay was full of junk of crazy German sellers that were selling those engines for 10k euro almost. I could not believe my eyes.

Ok so, finally 2 months later I found a hopefully good engine provided by Fab Direct. no idea about the mileage, they would not tell me, but it was running fine and came with a warranty. So I pulled the trigger, got the engine delivered to Dublin and decided to go with a full swap as I did not want to take any chance with the rest of this broken engine. What else could be wrong I told myself. Well, whatever, let’s replace the whole thing and be done with it.

So I decided to get this “new” engine rebuilt from scratch and fully restored before fitting. It took about 5 weeks to get everything back together. At the end this engine swap cost me around 6000 euro, all inclusive, which include a fully replaced cooling system too. Yeah I kind figured I did not want to take any chance with this new engine so I sent an extra 1000 euro or so to get this completely overhauled. And this was achieved by buying from the original manufacturers as much as possible, which include Behr etc.

Anyway, months passed, other issue arose, a dead steering lock, a dead brake cylinder, some body work done, some new wheels, some new suspension parts, so M Tech bumpers, so faulty pulse generator and so well, today I am very happy with the car, I spent a little fortune over the past 2 and half years, it probably cost me around 15.000 euro all inclusive, when you think about it, it sounds crazy.

And you know what this car had a large number of BMW bills related to service, parts changed etc over a 10 years period from 1997 to 2007. I thought I would be safe with such an extensive number of service records. Hum, well, almost.

Anyway the car is in very good condition today, it almost made a way trip to the crushers, but I guess it was not it’s time yet.

Maybe a previous owner will notice this car. Its registration was R319 WLD.

Few months back once I got everything sorted out, I tried to email the seller with some recent photos, just to show him the car and tell him that I got everything sorted and to thank him for his f*** honesty, but the email bounced back. Oh well, he will never know what he missed.





Michael La Rosa