TCL Darling Acquired: E39 M5
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    1. #1
      Member kiznarsh's Avatar
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      TCL Darling Acquired: E39 M5

      After 6 months of having the Cayman as the daily driver, the itch for another car came back and I started looking to check off another box on the automotive bucket list: an M car. Always loved the E39 body styling, probably since there was a Sterling Grey 540i in the house during high school. Around Christmas I was >< close to flying to New Mexico for a 2003 Titanium Silver one but when the owner went to turn it on one last time, he heard some weird noises from the engine.

      Turned out the timing chain guides crapped out on him and ultimately ended up with a $7k repair bill. Bullet: dodged.

      I ended up finding another 2003 in Seattle with 103k miles and in my preferred color. It's got an April 2003 build date so one of the last ones made. Went back & forth on the price since the PO bought it from a local dealer with no service records, but the Carfax had decent amount of details (e.g. a coolant flush was listed). I really wanted one with a more thorough history but after talking with the owner and him being only the 2nd one, decided to fly up on March 10th and buy it (pending a PPI) and do a fun road trip. Another friend flew up from San Francisco and helped me drive it down back to his place, then I was solo for the last leg of the trip.

      So far it's been...eventful.

      Here's the basic route:



      I've been to Seattle a few times and Rainier's size never ceases to amaze me.



      Rented a zippy Sentra and almost ran someone over with the throttle response in Sport mode. To the island!



      Checked out the car for a while and went on a pretty long test drive. Overall the car's in good condition and in the past 2 years, the water pump, thermostat, clutch, front pads, 3 coil packs, and 2 MAF sensors have apparently been replaced. It's got the extended leather package and the seats are in good condition but dirty & dry with some cracking (I've already cleaned and conditioned them with Lexol). The finish on the wheels is peeling off so that'll need attention.







      As you can see, it's got the Dinan CAI plus MAF housings, throttle bodies, tune, and the rear diff.



      There's a Dinan badge on the trunk lid, but I'll be removing it along with this E36 M3 spoiler. Unfortunately 4 holes have been drilled. I may look for another E39 trunk lid instead of having a shop fill in the holes, but we'll see. A paint-matched OEM lip will be going on.



      Headed back to the hotel, ate oysters & calamari for dinner and caught a show at Neumos.



      Since the PO was only available for a PPI on the weekend, I made an appointment with BMW Seattle which worked out since the airbag recall still needed to be performed. It took me 3 weeks to coordinate getting an airbag in stock, ultimately needing to get the general manager involved, but it's all good. Plus the center of the steering wheel is brand new now. Score. Dropped off the car at 8 am, picked up my camera and spent some time in the city.





      PPI revealed several items, biggest one being leaky valve cover gaskets (no surprise), worn serpentine belts (something I noticed the day before), and the door mirrors being broken (I was aware of this). Nothing screamed "run away!" but I also didn't wanna drive over 1,000 miles back home with one of the belts possibly ripping apart, so decided to get new ones installed after the PO offered to put them on. The Seattle dealership didn't have any in stock, but Bellevue had 1 of each left. The time was 4:30, they closed at 6. A race against time!

      Ended up buying the belts, then back to the dude's place where they were replaced, mainly due to my excellent lighting work (I'm actually on the other side providing additional lighting as we listened to 90s hip hop).



      The tensioners were pretty stiff and the PO was pulling hard while his friend was trying to put them on when all of a sudden his dad walks into the garage holding a Costco-sized box of ice cream bars. "Hey you boys want some of these?" Ummm...kinda busy here but thanks!

      Handed over the check, completed the paperwork, returned the zippy Sentra, then back to the hotel. These eyes...quite angelic.



      On Sunday we headed straight down to Portland where I called AAA from the passenger seat, answered a bunch of questions, then saw my annual insurance premium decrease by $80. Multi-car policy FTW.

      Downtown Portland is interesting. Saw some dude walking around with a 6-ft tree branch in one hand, a bunch of leaves in another, wrapped in a Camry-beige toga, with a ****-eating grin on his face. I can only assume he was living life to its fullest.

      I was there back in October and visited a previous photo location.



      On Monday we stopped by Corvalis and Eugene to check out the campuses and took more photos.









      On Oregon's campus I was approached by some wildlife activists and invited to play the salmon game (you get 3 foam cubes and try to throw them through the hole). I got close but didn't make any, yet they still gave me salmon-shaped candy, which was nice.



      Then we headed towards the coast and checked out some Dunes. On the way there we passed by a lot of moss. So much moss. Mas moss than I've seen before.



      Walking through this was quite the workout.







      Spent the night in Coos Bay and ate a German restaurant where the waitress would pour you water, then say "thank you" which was somewhat confusing. And...get this...if you paid in cash, you'd get a slice of carrot cake! I wonder if the cost of that slice is really less than the 3% credit card fee. Asking the important questions.

      Now it's Tuesday and we're heading down the coast again. Decided to practice my action shots in a empty section of the road.



      Then made a stop at the Coquille River Lighthouse.









      The roads were pretty slippery at some points and we passed this upside down Beetle (emergency crews were there soon after).



      Came across this interesting sign. What, pray tell, can be so awesome that requires such a sign?



      Oh...



      Next stop was seeing the Redwoods but unfortunately the main road was closed due to a fallen tree. Still a scenic route getting there while obeying posted speed limits at all times.







      Got to see Elk; they were chill. I named this one Charlie.







      Kinda feel bad for the snake as I think he was about to eat that snail, but slithered away after I took the shot.



      Miata GTG?



      Spent Tuesday night in Eureka where nothing crazy happened, other than the hotel dryer not working at all, forcing me to walk across the street to the laundromat.



      Wednesday was the last fun day of the trip as we drove through Avenue of the Giants again. I absolutely love this road. 2 years ago I drove through it with the C63 which had superior handling and steering, but despite a sloppy, long-throw shifter (for now), just having the option to row my own gears more than made up for it. Looking forward to doing it with the Cayman at some point.



      Made it back to SF without any issues and did some more photography. Well, almost without any issues...









      You think this guy...



      ...hangs out with this guy?



      I wanna know, so I should ask this guy.



      So anyway, remember how the mirrors were broken? Yeah...well they were glued back on in Seattle, but the swivel plate on the passenger side finally gave way in SF.



      Didn't want it dangling on the way home. Initiate mirror removal.



      Seems legit.



      Once I got back home, I bought an aftermarket replacement housing (everything but the glass) and decided to swap the internals so I wouldn't have to paint it. But hey guess what? The connector doesn't go through the hole!



      Ended up having to the cut and re-splice the wires.



      The center dash vents were broken so I got new ones too. I needed to get the radio out so I can pop the vents out, which should be easy since allz ya gotta do is take out 4 screws. Except 2 of them had stripped heads, requiring me to drill them out. Oh lawdy.



      So far I've also replaced the oil (where I discovered stripped threads in the oil pan), transmission fluid, and the rear diff oil which required the cutoff 14mm allen wrench trick to remove the plugs.





      Sweet sassy malassy it's late. Thanks for reading. I'll share more of my future plans tomorrow and leave you with my favorite pic from the trip.



      Last edited by kiznarsh; 03-28-2017 at 10:17 AM.

    2. #2
      Member YellowDieselGolf's Avatar
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      Nice work! Looks like a great trip.

      I wonder why someone would install the E36 wing?
      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman
      Is it weird that I want to cram into the back seat in cycling clothes and feel the mechanical vibrations as you tear around the Outback?

    3. #3
      Member PizzaCat!'s Avatar
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      Glad you finally posted all the pics of that sweet German SS.

      I think I've also been on that road that says OCEAN VIEW. Definitely been to Coos Bay. Awesome road trip, definitely be doing another one someday.
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    4. #4
      Member Stevo12's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by YellowDieselGolf View Post
      Nice work! Looks like a great trip.

      I wonder why someone would install the E36 wing?
      My first question as well

      Second is, how much fuel was left for that 155 mile range? 3/4 tank?

      Seriously, congrats on the M5. I don't need to buy any more cars at the moment, but if I did, a V8 E39 is near the top of the list.

    5. #5
      Member yeayeayea's Avatar
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      A dry differential housing? Surprising to see the diff input pinion seal isn't leaking. I rebuilt the driveshaft on mine and did the seal while I was in there. The exhaust is one piece on these cars, from the downpipe outlets all the way to the tail pipes. It is a pain to remove and reinstall by yourself if you're not using a lift, so I suggest doing it all at one time if you start getting driveshaft vibration. The driveshaft has a support bearing and a rubber guibo between the transmission and the driveshaft and both can be sources of driveline vibration.

      I just did transmounts and the Powerflex front diff bushing on mine and filled the rear diff mounts with 3m WindoWeld and the shifting is so much more crisp, I highly recommend at least the poly front bushing. Bushing play in the front diff mount can accelerate the diff pinion seal leakage.

    6. #6
      Member evosky's Avatar
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      Sub'd. Definitely one of the all time great cars, will live vicariously through you.
      Congrats
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    7. #7
      Geriatric Member Hostile's Avatar
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      Awesome thread, I'm really jealous.

    8. #8
      Geriatric Member BRealistic's Avatar
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      Turned out the timing chain guides crapped out on him and ultimately ended up with a $7k repair bill.
      Yikes.
      Stories like that scare me away from these affordable German toys.
      But wow they are awesome cars for the used money- if you can find a good one.
      removed because realized just as annoying as the people that refuse to turn off their phone app's auto-spam with every post.

    9. #9
      A beautiful Summer's Eve Sold Over Sticker's Avatar
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      Congrats man! Love the color.
      Driving While Awesome Podcast. Give it a listen.
      Quote Originally Posted by bothhandsplease View Post
      Brendan told me to get the best discount, I had to send dick pics. I thought this was standard car buying practice.
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      Brendan and his all knowing heavy breathing baboon are correct.

    10. #10
      Senior Member Ryukein's Avatar
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      Fantastic Love detailed road trip threads like this one!

      I adore that color on the E39.
      Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | PSN: dsgolson | XBL: Ryukein
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      In after Ryukein seal of approval.
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    11. #11
      Member Slipstream's Avatar
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      Great trip and even better pictures. I love the PNW!

      You'll love the E39. My brother is a habitual car hopper and the E39 M5 is the only car to ever stop him dead in his tracks. He's had his for three years and has zero interest in finding anything to replace it.

      Other than the spoiler and the goofy-sized exhaust tips she looks to be in great shape for the mileage. Nice find.
      08 c30 | 10 xc70 | seventwosix

    12. #12
      Member TheDeckMan's Avatar
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      Nice E39 M5! Wonderful cars
      -Noah
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    13. #13
      Member lowlight's Avatar
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      Incredible write-up! Thanks OP!

      E39 M5 was THE car back in the day...I remember fondly. Well done.
      Current: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (his), 2016 BMW 3 Series GT (hers)
      Past: 2008 Honda Civic Si (sold), 2012 Mustang GT (sold), 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII (sold), 2001 VW Golf 1.8T (sold)

    14. #14
      Only a TCL darling because most of TCL have never attempted to own one. 3 years were more than enough for me; all I can say is good luck. I suggest referring to the R63 AMG thread on GRM for an example of what will undoubtedly be in store.

    15. #15
      Member kiznarsh's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by YellowDieselGolf View Post
      Nice work! Looks like a great trip.

      I wonder why someone would install the E36 wing?
      Thanks. It's not gaudy and looks to be professionally installed but still, it just ain't right.

      Quote Originally Posted by MrCatRidesAPizzaTurtleWithACrunchyTaco View Post
      Glad you finally posted all the pics of that sweet German SS.

      I think I've also been on that road that says OCEAN VIEW. Definitely been to Coos Bay. Awesome road trip, definitely be doing another one someday.
      Hey I had 12 GB of photos to go through mister! Takes time doncha know.

      The running joke in Coos Bay was whether or not the bars sold Coos Light (it was hilarious at the time; many sensible chuckles were had).

      Quote Originally Posted by Stevo12 View Post
      Second is, how much fuel was left for that 155 mile range? 3/4 tank?

      Seriously, congrats on the M5. I don't need to buy any more cars at the moment, but if I did, a V8 E39 is near the top of the list.
      Hey I was averaging a little over 20 going downhill with a tailwind!

      Quote Originally Posted by yeayeayea View Post
      A dry differential housing? Surprising to see the diff input pinion seal isn't leaking. I rebuilt the driveshaft on mine and did the seal while I was in there. The exhaust is one piece on these cars, from the downpipe outlets all the way to the tail pipes. It is a pain to remove and reinstall by yourself if you're not using a lift, so I suggest doing it all at one time if you start getting driveshaft vibration. The driveshaft has a support bearing and a rubber guibo between the transmission and the driveshaft and both can be sources of driveline vibration.

      I just did transmounts and the Powerflex front diff bushing on mine and filled the rear diff mounts with 3m WindoWeld and the shifting is so much more crisp, I highly recommend at least the poly front bushing. Bushing play in the front diff mount can accelerate the diff pinion seal leakage.
      Here's another photo I took while underneath. Definitely dry for now.



      The Guibo looks fairly new so it must've been recently changed and right now I'm not feeling any driveshaft vibrations, but I'll be keeping an eye on it.

      Quote Originally Posted by Sold Over Sticker View Post
      Congrats man! Love the color.
      Thanks for your help during the "research-to-get-excited-then-find-out-there's-something-wrong-and-get-frustrated-so-time-to-start-again" phase.

    16. #16
      Member dak125's Avatar
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      Great purchase, love the roadtrip. Congrats!

    17. #17
      Member Smooremin's Avatar
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      Congrats seems like tons of fun! Enjoy it!!
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    18. #18
      40 Year Old Madonna Fan patrikman's Avatar
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      I was starting to wonder if you were going to do a thread of not.


      Quote Originally Posted by Boober_V2.0 View Post
      Only a TCL darling because most of TCL have never attempted to own one. 3 years were more than enough for me; all I can say is good luck. I suggest referring to the R63 AMG thread on GRM for an example of what will undoubtedly be in store.
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    19. #19
      A beautiful Summer's Eve Sold Over Sticker's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by kiznarsh View Post

      Thanks for your help during the "research-to-get-excited-then-find-out-there's-something-wrong-and-get-frustrated-so-time-to-start-again" phase.
      Happy to help!

      Loved the shots of the Oregon dunes btw. I have family in Coos Bay, and I used to go up there all of the time as a kid. Really cool area to explore when you're just young enough to be on your own.
      Driving While Awesome Podcast. Give it a listen.
      Quote Originally Posted by bothhandsplease View Post
      Brendan told me to get the best discount, I had to send dick pics. I thought this was standard car buying practice.
      Quote Originally Posted by H.E. Pennypacker View Post
      Brendan and his all knowing heavy breathing baboon are correct.

    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by kiznarsh View Post
      Love these roadtrip threads on TCL. Thanks for sharing and great pictures

    21. #21
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      Awesome story. Awesome pics. Awesome car.

      Can't think E39 M5 without thinking of this:


    22. #22
      Member TangoRed's Avatar
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      Congrats OP! Glad you enjoyed Seattle.

      Quote Originally Posted by Quinn1.8t View Post
      Love these roadtrip threads on TCL. Thanks for sharing and great pictures
      I agree, I really enjoy them.
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    23. #23
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      1) Damn! Wish I'd known you were stopping through town. Would have bought you a (I'm in Seattle)
      2) Glad that car is as nice as it appeared in the CL ad I'd been stalking for some time
      3) Weatherford Hall! (I'm an OSU grad.) When I was in school, light years ago, that was the oldest dormitory still occupied on the West coast. The fire marshall wanted to condemn it as they predicted it'd go up in about 10 minutes. At the time, students were allowed to build whatever the hell they wanted in their rooms, so in addition to walls 'insulated' with some shredded newspaper, the entire building was full of cheap lumber. There were some epic loft/desk/couch/etc setups though.
      4) Looks like a great road trip! And what a great way to get to know a new-to-you car, especially when nothing disabling/catastrophic goes wrong.

    24. #24

      FV-QR

      nice buy! Lovely color. Yes E36 wing looks off, will look way better without it, just the M5 lip spoiler looks nice.
      GLi : M3 : CX5
      OSD#2

    25. #25
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      D i n a n

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