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El Turko

Turko's E39 540 Sport

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Just a quick introduction, I'm Bek and pretty much loyal to the BMW brand having owned a host of 3 series and been on the 'scene' for the past 10-11 years.


I'm finally in an e39, Rewind three weeks ago and I hadn't planned on buying one, nor put much thought into it - but here I am, with a 540 sport sat outside :D  Awesome!



A friend posted up photos of his e39 535 a few weeks back, and it set me off.  I did the usual thing of scouring forums, pistonheads, autotrader etc.. The e39 has always been one of the few BMW's I've had a soft spot for (they were on the list a few years back before buying my 330 - infact that was when I first joined this forum), and convinced myself now was the time to tick the box. I originally started looking for Champagne edition 530's, but whilst sense checking the market - saw an Imola 540 and it looked to tick most of the boxes.


The first Saturday I had free, I was on a train up from London to Nottingham to meet the seller. I had bought a return ticket, I told myself not to make a decision there and then, and that I shouldn't buy the first one I saw. Pointless exercise - that night I was driving down the M1 in my new steed  :D 



I'm pretty much overwhelmed with the car, its a brilliant car - really, very happy, with no regrets. The condition of it is well beyond my expectations (the guy owned it for 5 years and was one of those that bought mats to protect his mats!)


Spec is as follows:


2001 540i Sport,

90,000 miles,

Imola red exterior,

Electric black leather sports interior,

18" M Parallels,

Sat nav,

Analogue TV, 


Front & rear PDC,

Factory tints,

Aftermarket bluetooth kit.



In terms of e39's, its not fully loaded - heated seats and xenons being two options I wish the car had, but I'm happy with the kit at hand, and so glad to have the simple things back like auto dipping mirrors and PDC. It feels great being back in a BMW.


It does need a bit of tidying - the bonnet has been keyed and the bootlid touched up really badly (in a different shade of red!), but these are all relatively easy fixes and not suprising given the car's age.


Plans? Well, I've just sorted 4 tyres for the car this weekend, and after Xmas it'll be going in for the above mentioned paint followed by a detail. Hopefully xenons, springs and spacers shortly after, followed by Mk4 Nav and the later Sports steering wheel. That should be it I think. Maybe an exhaust if I'm feeling stupid.



I have been terrible at taking photos so far, but here are a few off my iphone;
















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Good choice, I've never heard of anybody who didn't grow to love their E39, and in V8 form it's even better.

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Lovely, lovely motor! You sure it doesn't have xenons? Lights look exactly the same as my facelift M5 ones.

Look after it, it's damn rare!!


Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk

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That is one sexy motor! Love the imola red e39, very very rare to find a clean one these days

I wana see this in the flesh so i'm putting your name down for the South East meet sometime in 2015 :P

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Very nice. When it's for sale time let me know.

If you are lowering it please don't chav it out, and slam it. Looks so tacky.

Edited by Piper

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Very very nice car and one of only 15 540ia sports produced in Imola Red

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by jag530isport

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The cars had a fair bit done over the last few weeks. 


The following is not particularly detailed, and is only backed up by some terrible iphone pictures – which I’ve included anyway.


Back in January it went for a service at my mate Joeys place of work. I ended up getting the following done:


Full service for peace of mind (plugs, filters, oil etc),

Rear wheel bearing,

Front control arm (had a knocking noise appear),



As always, car was looked after, and very happy with how the car felt afterwards. :D



Once all that was out the way, I could tackle the other issues that bugged me. The top 4 things on my list were;


Bodywork (car has a rusty bootlid, a keyed bonnet and a laquer peeling rear bumper),

Ride height,

Headlights are incredibly woeful,

Mk3 Sat Nav is embarrassingly poor.



Paintwork is out of my skillset, and is obviously easier to leave to the pro’s – so in coming weeks that can be ticked off relatively easily. The other issues were within my skillset to address, so I cracked on.




First up was replacing the Mk3 Nav unit with the Mk4. For those of you that don’t know, MK3 is CDRom based, Mk4 is DVD based. The Mk4 being far, far superior in response/graphics/info. Having had this unit in my old 330, the upgrade was something I definitely had to do.


It’s an easy upgrade, simple plug and play, the old unit in the boot comes out, the new one goes in. All connections remain the same. Simple (or should be!!).







Only challenge was I think my unit came out of a French car – whilst I was able to easily change the Nav language to English, strangely my OBC was still in French. Secret menu’s in the dash etc did nothing. In the end a friend attacked it with Nav coder, that and a software refresh fixed the issue. Result!


Regardless of the slight hurdle, I’m happy to finally have the latest unit and software in the car.




Next up – headlights. 


Foolishly when I bought the car I presumed it had Xenons. I saw the projectors and with my e46 thinking cap on, presumed projectors = xenons. I was wrong. Doh!


I did a load of research into fitting factory Xenons, and it seemed way too much effort. Plus the price of £300+ for a set of headlights put me off. 


In the end I did what I’ve always been dead against and ordered HID’s along with the LED converters for the angel eyes.




No pics of them fitted unfortunately – as the iphone just turns the picture to a white blur!








Lastly, suspension. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for a decent suspension set up at a reasonable price. I wasn’t over fussed whether it was shocks and springs or coilovers – but coilovers obviously carry a slight advantage that I can tweek to my own preference.


A set of coils came up for sale on eBay. They were a brand I had never heard of, PB coilovers. However, did a bit of quick research and they’re priced at £650+, so not the bottom end of the market and have full height / dampening adjustability which is what I wanted. The seller had run them for a month and decided they were not for him due to lower ride height causing damage to his LPG system. One man’s loss is another man’s gain – I shamefully took full advantage and snapped them up.


What they look like:




I’d heard e39 coilovers can be a nightmare to fit. Compared to the e36 and e46 it was definitely frustrating work. But I was determined to do it myself rather than buckle and just pay someone. So I booked some time off work and persevered.



Old vs New (Fronts)





Old vs New (Rears)










Fronts in:





Also drilled the top mounts cap to keep them semi protected.





The result:





I’ve left the ride height at a sensible height. The rears were rubbing, so until arches are rolled and I’ve bought a few spacers that’s how its staying.


In regards to the coilovers, I am really happy. They are near identical to my HSD’s that I ran on both the e36 and e46. I guess, the more pressing test is build quality and longevity though. Time will tell if they’re up to the test!



But its not over!!!!


I was on a roll by this point, and as a final stab decided I’d give machine polishing the bonnet a go – just as a temporary fix until it goes to the body shop. I had three big key marks, running from the headlight all the way up to the washer jets.


A quick wash:















The key is so deep it is still visible in sunlight, you can still see bits of it in the after photo, but is a lot more presentable than it was. 



That’s as far as I got. Some decent progress made. It never ends though, so once the car goes in for paint, I’m sure I’ll have a new list of mods to tackle. :D

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