A bold turn by a BMW M5 E39 on a small street.
Unlike its predecessors, the E39 M5 was not handbuilt at the BMW M GmbH factory; it was produced on the same assembly line as the normal E39 5-series at the Dingolfing factory in Germany.
Introduced in 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show, production did not begin until late October of that year. A total of 20,482 E39 M5s were made from 1999 to 2003. BMW M produced three versions of the E39 M5, the European LHD and RHD versions and the North American specification version.
The E39 M5 had a highly tuned V8 engine based on the M62 engine called the S62, which displaced 4.9 L and produced 394 bhp. The engine featured a 7000 rpm redline, Double-VANOS, which varies the intake and exhaust valves for both cylinder banks, and individual throttle butterflies for each of the cylinders, allowing for a much faster engine response time.
All E39 M5s were equipped with a Getrag Type D six-speed manual transmission with the following gearing ratios:
* First gear: 4.23
* Second gear: 2.54
* Third gear: 1.62
* Fourth gear: 1.23
* Fifth gear: 1.00
* Sixth gear: 0.83
It is the same transmission used in the E39 540i but some changes were made to cope with the extra power the S62 engine produced. A reinforced clutch, rear differential utilizing a shorter 3.15:1 ratio and a limited slip differential with 25% maximum locking.
The E39 M5 suspension shared its basic aluminium-intensive MacPherson strut/multi-link design of the V8 E39 5 series. However, several changes were made by BMW M. Reduced spring height, 0.9 inch (23 mm) lower. A specific shock valving, thicker front and rear anti-roll bars, polyurethane auxiliary springs and steel balljoints.
Like all V8-powered E39 models, the E39 M5 was equipped with a recirculating-ball steering system. Overall steering ratio was reduced to 14.7 from 17.9 it featured a servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power assist that provides two levels of resistance controlled via console mounted Sport button. The Sport button also adjusted the electronic throttle butterflies for faster throttle response. The E39 M5 is equipped with four-wheel vented disc brakes measuring 13.6″ in diameter in front and 12.9″ in diameter in the rear. On European-specification models, the rotors are of a “floating” two-piece design for reduced risk of cone distortion. Their lower unsprung weight improves ride quality and traction on bumpy surfaces as well. Anti-lock brakes were standard.