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2003 E39 540i Sport Auto - Dead Gear Box - Free to Collect

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Sad times.  I've owned this car for over 7 years and put 95 thousand miles on it.  Loved every mile.


Bad points:

Gearbox is toast.  The torque converter has completely let go and prior to that there were  very, very rough shifts for tens of thousands of miles so it needs a full rebuild, I was quoted £1800 by Wavertree in Sydenham.

Valve cover gasket leak; plugs and coils were very oily

Front suspension: car has the dreaded shimmy, so the front arms need doing (again) and the tie rod ends also need replacing, it also sits quite low which is a pain over speedbumps

Rear suspension: something is a little loose, although I don't think it's sub frame bushes

Bodywork: Both front wings crumpled, front bumper cracked, the splash trays at the sides are long gone, plenty of rust: sills, rear arches, boot lid - see pictures

Fuel gauge: drivers side sensor it dead (again) and is great fun to replace

Pixels: don't be fooled by the picture, many zombie pixels that come and go

Headlight adjusters broken on one side (MOT fail), I replaced the adjusters on the other side, never again

Something wrong with wiring to brake pad wear sensors as it complains constantly - I've changed the sensors

CCV gone, so smokes good and proper on a hot start

Occasional Vanos rattle on start - has not changed in 95K miles, scared me half to death first time I heard it!

Rear parking sensors stuck on

Drivers seat no longer goes up and down

MOT expired 1st March 2019 - SORN

No tax or Insurance, so can't be test driven (barely moves with the blown TC anyway)

Interior: a little tatty, my girlfriend put a lot of miles on it for work - rear seats don't fold so all sorts of stuff transported on the back seats, plenty of scratches to the aluminium effect trim and the usual wear to the front seats.

Mileage: 205,000


The good:

I have two spare front wings - neither perfect, but much better than the ones on the car

Recent Xenon bulbs on both sides - one side with new adjusters

Recent disks, pads and shoes all round, no lip at all on the disks

Uniroyal Rainsports with plenty of life - 8Js all round, I have the 9Js if you want (tyres are not legal on the 9Js)

New spark plugs fitted today, oil from VCG leak cleaned up - started first time after sitting for four months, ran smoothly, other than the screaming transmission

Expansion tank at ~107K (Indy)

Both pre-cat lambdas ~115K (DIY)

Chain tensioner at ~117K (DIY)

Bosch MAF at ~117K (DIY)

Water pump, Stat, Radiator and belts at ~119k (DIY)

Hedgehog ~126K (DIY)

Shocks, springs, rear control arms ~127K (DIY)
Alternator and Bosch S5 battery ~170K (DIY)

Brand new rear bumper courtesy of a little bump from the police ~175K (No receipt, didn't occur to me to ask as I didn't pay!)

Both front calipers refurbed by Bigg Red and new discs and pads at ~190K

Air bag recall, shiny new BMW badge ~190K

Radiator done (again) at ~196K (DIY)

Rear brake lines done, required dropping the fuel tank ~195k (Garage, no chance I was doing that job!)


Service history

20,781 BMW Oil

40,781 BMW Insp 1

64,588 BMW Oil

83,485 BMW Insp 2

95,855 Indy Oil

104,906 Indy Insp 2

109,521 Indy Oil

118,400 Indy Insp 1

128,183 Indy Oil

143,722 Indy Insp 2

160,452 Indy Oil

183,677 Indy Oil

193,198 Indy Insp 2 and brake fluid


Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/x9eEpCrF5bSS3vDq6


Free to collect but you will need a trailer.


Finally a massive thank you to everyone on this forum who took the time to document and photograph work they did on their cars.  Everything I DIY'd was done after researching on this forum, and doubtless a bunch of other little jobs I've long forgotten about.  This car is a joy to work on.  Fear not, I am still driving (and wrenching on) a BMW :)


Location: Beckenham BR3, South East London / North West Kent

Edited by cad42

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Massive e39 and 540i enthusiast here! Pm sent I’d love this as a project and have most of the parts to put it right, perfect pair 540i/6t and 540i auto! 


I’d love a chance at getting this back up to scratch and daily it (ounce I’ve lpg converted it!)

Edited by e34m525i

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It's yours. I'm delighted someone is willing to keep her going! I'll message you tomorrow. 




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2 hours ago, pidgeonpost said:

Well that didn't hang about did it?! :lol:

Yeah, hardly surprising! Another one saved. :D

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Just wanted to update this as it’s fully functioning again and is officially saved! it’s had new wings, a set of 18” parras, new bootlid waiting to go on, the auto box has been replaced and it’s just today passed it’s first mot in 3 years! It’s taken me a while with other things going on to round to this but it’s been well worth the wait! 


massive thanks to forum member AlexGsi2000 for sorting the gearbox replacement and mot prep and also providing the replacement panels!


plenty of more little tweaks coming soon 

here’s some pics 



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Was a pleasure helping out with this one.


Drove really well considering it had been laid up for a while, I didnt want to give it back - that V8 torque combined with the auto box is lovely, seems to pick up very well compared to the 98' 540 I used to own (vanos / non vanos I assume?).


Diamond in the rough at the moment, but I know Darren has plans - after seeing the rest of his work, I'm sure it will be back to its former glory before long.

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