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E39 M5 touring build

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The following thread will be posted on a few forums so some of the content may be very obvious to some but not to others.
 
Here we are with the beginning of another project one of which I have wanted to do for some time.  
BMW over the years have teased us with various prototypes and concepts which haven't made production for one reason or another.  Concentrating on the E39 M5 touring, BMW had already made and sold an M5 touring with the previous generation E34 all be it in European LHD format with limited production only reaching 891 built.
 
50733679806_749dee4fd0_z.jpg
 
Not long after the E39 M5 saloon was launched BMW built a single M5 touring as pictured above using a 540i as a base which was used by the then head of BMW M, Gerhard Richter.  Unfortunately for one reason or another it didn't make it into production and it wasn't until the E61 M5 touring was launched that BMW bothered with an M5 touring again and haven't since with the following two 5 series.
 
Since then there have been several E39 M5 touring builds around the world to varying levels of execution with some being heavily modified and some being as close to OEM as possible so what I am about to undertake will be by no means be a first in any way.  My take on it will be as close to what a factory build would have been with the probability of some suspension and brake upgrades at some point.
 
A previous project of mine in a similar vein was an E46 M3 touring build which got as far as a full conversion bar the bodywork.
 
 
44644725371_6e9b2434e6_k.jpg
 
With that car sold on a couple of years ago a factory manual E39 540i Sport touring came my way which I started to do some work to and thats when the idea for the M5 build started to take place but being one of 13 UK RHD cars sold it was a bit too rare to mess about with so that was also sold on.
 
50732867653_24470624b2_k.jpg
 
Fast forward to October this year and @Piper old Oxford green 540i touring popped up on ebay for a reasonable price and a run round the M25 from Surrey to Essex one eve to quickly view it to make sure it was ok resulted in a deal being done and it coming home with me.
 
This particular car appealed to me for several reasons and a big part of that appeal was Pipers substantial retro fits and maintenance along the way, build thread here.
 
 
For those of you who cant be bothered to trawl through that thread, the crux of it was a fairly basic spec pre facelift 540iSE auto in Oxford green with sand beige leather that ended up facelift sport spec with the following options retro fitted.
 
Complete interior swap from beige to black including headlining
Heated electric memory M5 front seats
M5 stitched leather centre console
M5 door cards with stitched leather door pulls
Birch anthracite wood trim
Power fold mirrors
Wide screen Mk4 Nav
DSP HiFi
Child booster rear seats
Rear door blinds
Slide out boot floor
Facelift sport bumper
Facelift Halo headlights and facelift celis rear lights
Eibach front springs
18" BBS style 5 replica wheels
 
50733695127_bdf028f9d6_k.jpg
 
Buying this car has given me a massive head start by saving me a lot of time and money in parts bringing a base car up to M5 spec but there is still a lot to do!
 
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A couple of weeks ago a suitable donor M5 that had sustained some damage popped up on facebook for a very good price.  I had to move quick to secure it as there was naturally a lot of interest in it so the following morning with a bag of tools and a pre arranged recovery truck on standby I headed up to East London to make sure it ran ok and do the deal.
 
50732884173_fcea625997_k.jpg
 
Back at the workshop, the following weekend initial assessment and strip down began and its fair to say that this particular M5 was no prize even pre accident condition but the core components I needed such as engine, gearbox, rear axle and electrical components all seemed to be ok.
 
50733616416_35b14ca90d_k.jpg
 
Bent chassis rails as a result of the accident and plenty of underside corrosion made me feel less guilty about chopping up an M5.
 
50733718352_575cd96424_k.jpg
 
Interior completely stripped to be sold on and to remove the complete body wring loom so I can harvest it for sections to integrate into the tourings body loom in the same way I did with the previous E46 so various wires unpicked from their terminals, looms unwrapped and rewrapped all to make a custom loom with correct wire colours and terminations with no cutting and soldering.
 
So thats were we are so far.  Next stage will be to remove the remaining parts from the donor M5 and start to go through them.

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Fantastic project @BSS - Will be following this :)

 

An S62 conversion into my Jap import touring would be the perfect car IMO ;) 

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Another fantastic project although building it in full garage facilities might be top-trumped by a guy who built his on his drive...

 

https://www.m5board.com/threads/project-e39-m5-tourer.101597/

 

The above link is a right hand drive one and there are more than half a dozen left hand drive E39 M5 Tourings across Europe and North America.

 

Good luck with the project.

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On 19/12/2020 at 21:10, sharkfan said:

Another fantastic project although building it in full garage facilities might be top-trumped by a guy who built his on his drive...

 

https://www.m5board.com/threads/project-e39-m5-tourer.101597/

 

The above link is a right hand drive one and there are more than half a dozen left hand drive E39 M5 Tourings across Europe and North America.

 

Good luck with the project.

 

Thanks!

 

My days of scrabbling around under a car on axle stands a long gone.

 

I have read through several E39 M5 touring build threads and that one in the link made a lot of unnecessary work for himself with regards to wiring.

The key to simplifying any build of this sort is to start with the correct base car and donor car.  By doing so means not having to completely gut a car to swap a body loom. 

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Hi B!

 

Fantastic to see another one being made ! with your specific capabilities and insights it'll be much easier for you as well ! For reference, Steve just happened to live 2/3 miles from me back in around 2007/8 and I met him having seen the car 'during' it's build around local shops and then picking up some parts he was selling! At that time there was very little information and experience in doing the swap and we had a good discussion about various aspects including Touring specifics the saloon didn't have and the non SLS suspension my Touring has etc. I do recall him mentioning it took him a while to figure out having the M5 ECU understand there was a rear wash/wipe as he 'had' to have everything working! If you look at the first page of Steve's massive & famous build thread on M5board, the second response is from a guy from over in Los Angeles who I met when out there! He really wanted an M5 Touring too, but his 'direction' at the time meant he Supercharged his 540i Touring and if you look at his thread, it's astonishing the retrofits and work he did! I also had the privilege of going out for a good blat in that Touring too - it registered 427 rwhp if I remember correctly! I was given first refusal on the car when he came to sell it some time later and I was sorely tempted! when the advert went up, it sold, unseen within about 20 minutes with the full asking price in his bank account half an hour later to a guy in New York. Upon another visit to the US, I met the new owner in NYC and he'd converted it to a 6Spd manual and it joined his other 6 supercharged 4.4 litre BMW's in his split level garage!

 

Over the years, more and more M5 Tourings have been built, and I'd say there's perhaps now 20/25+ examples running about all over the globe. A couple of 'project' ones have come up for sale including one that looked like an 'SE' E39 Touring !..  The 'information' to do the conversion has become more available and thus, the initial knowledge 'Steve' did allowed more enthusiasts to do the project. Most are as if BMW made the model, so look as OEM as possible, there's a few that are more modified which is more my preference ! This one is from 2015, I believe it's changed a bit since and/or sold to a new owner - https://stanceworks.com/forums/showthread.php?76856-My-bagged-estoril-blue-E39-touring-S62B50-swap

 

Kit - It's the same reason as previously, BMW offered the E34 M5 in Touring form, and they didn't really sell very many, so skipped the E39. They then tried again with the E61 M5 Touring and...  they didn't sell very many. Most BMW M car purchasers don't want an estate/touring version as they'll 'most likely' have another car in the household for load lugging purposes. BMW have just dipped their toe in for the newest M3 and will be offering an M3 Touring for the first time ever. 'Hopefully' it'll be a sales hit for them, but time will tell! 

 

Look forward to your updates as the conversion takes shape!

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

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This is great, and I feel chuffed that my old pride and joy is going to live on. I used gen. M5 parts on the car so its a great base.

 

Nice to see the Birch Anthracite trim wasnt sold on.

 

Keeping going buddy, this is going to be one of the best builds ever.

Edited by Piper

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Great project!
 

I was looking under my touring the other day trying to work out how on earth a proper quad exhaust system could ever fit, I see it needs a different floor then, very interesting. 

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Carrying on with the stripping the M5 rear axle was harvested of its LSD, drive shafts, rear brake callipers and hub flanges.

 

50846699472_434faae8e2_b.jpg

 

51053140306_eef916ef2e_b.jpg

 

I picked up a complete touring rear axle which was stripped down to the bare subframe, hubs and lower arms.

 

51053144041_6cc6998149_b.jpg

 

Above is a pic of what all non M5 rear sub frames are like where the rear of the diff mount is and below is a pic of how an M5 is constructed.  The middle section is cut out and the two sections are tied to the main frame by tabs either side.

 

51053145856_472a53e1e9_b.jpg

 

51052418538_159fd301ef_b.jpg

 

51057032962_60477021aa_b.jpg

 

I had the M5 subframe difference replicated on to the touring subframe as well as having the front diff mount strengthened which is a common thing to do on supercharged M5's, made sense to do it while it was all stripped.

 

51056059793_d0c966638a_b.jpg

 

Subframe vapour blasted and all the bushes replaced with new.  Touring for the rear pair and saloon for the front pair so I can use the M5's chassis brace struts that link to the transmission tunnel.

 

On to the LSD.....

 

51053153236_cc5e761db1_b.jpg

 

51053151366_82886427ff_b.jpg

 

51056275328_67717845e6_b.jpg

 

Stripped apart to asses what state everything was in to find the bearings and gears ok but the clutch plates clearly worn.

 

51053245762_90f4e8cf6e_b.jpg

 

51052424613_bac0ec6410_b.jpg

 

51052436398_0180953d1c_b.jpg

 

51056725791_0aabe0b3cf_b.jpg

 

51056726661_2ff1231f12_b.jpg

 

New clutch plates, bearings, seals to build up in to a blasted and painted casing, vapour blasted back plate and electro plated nuts and bolts.

 

51056875212_d11dbdff30_b.jpg

 

Trial fitting of the LSD into the modified subframe shows the clearance to the diff back plate.  After watching various you tube videos and looking at pics on line it seems others have just ground down the bolt heads to allow some clearance which despite being at lot easier, is a bodge in my opinion.

 

51056870187_5a898467d6_b.jpg

 

So there we have it, a touring subframe with an M5 LSD fitted the factory way.

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10 hours ago, BSS said:

Carrying on with the stripping the M5 rear axle was harvested of its LSD, drive shafts, rear brake callipers and hub flanges.

 

50846699472_434faae8e2_b.jpg

 

51053140306_eef916ef2e_b.jpg

 

I picked up a complete touring rear axle which was stripped down to the bare subframe, hubs and lower arms.

 

51053144041_6cc6998149_b.jpg

 

Above is a pic of what all non M5 rear sub frames are like where the rear of the diff mount is and below is a pic of how an M5 is constructed.  The middle section is cut out and the two sections are tied to the main frame by tabs either side.

 

51053145856_472a53e1e9_b.jpg

 

51052418538_159fd301ef_b.jpg

 

51057032962_60477021aa_b.jpg

 

I had the M5 subframe difference replicated on to the touring subframe as well as having the front diff mount strengthened which is a common thing to do on supercharged M5's, made sense to do it while it was all stripped.

 

51056059793_d0c966638a_b.jpg

 

Subframe vapour blasted and all the bushes replaced with new.  Touring for the rear pair and saloon for the front pair so I can use the M5's chassis brace struts that link to the transmission tunnel.

 

On to the LSD.....

 

51053153236_cc5e761db1_b.jpg

 

51053151366_82886427ff_b.jpg

 

51056275328_67717845e6_b.jpg

 

Stripped apart to asses what state everything was in to find the bearings and gears ok but the clutch plates clearly worn.

 

51053245762_90f4e8cf6e_b.jpg

 

51052424613_bac0ec6410_b.jpg

 

51052436398_0180953d1c_b.jpg

 

51056725791_0aabe0b3cf_b.jpg

 

51056726661_2ff1231f12_b.jpg

 

New clutch plates, bearings, seals to build up in to a blasted and painted casing, vapour blasted back plate and electro plated nuts and bolts.

 

51056875212_d11dbdff30_b.jpg

 

Trial fitting of the LSD into the modified subframe shows the clearance to the diff back plate.  After watching various you tube videos and looking at pics on line it seems others have just ground down the bolt heads to allow some clearance which despite being at lot easier, is a bodge in my opinion.

 

51056870187_5a898467d6_b.jpg

 

So there we have it, a touring subframe with an M5 LSD fitted the factory way.

 

Wow; fantastic work :) 

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51001873804_4c73ddfeab_b.jpg

 

51086801101_89bf96dfb3_b.jpg

 

From fully trimmed load area fresh from a dump run to stripped out ready for the bodyshop.  Yep, a change of order from the original plan means a slot has been booked next week at the bodyshop for the spare wheel well delete and a deposit has been taken on the M62B44 540i engine so that will also be coming out sooner than expected.

This means the whole conversions should be a more speedier process.

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8 hours ago, BSS said:

51001873804_4c73ddfeab_b.jpg

 

51086801101_89bf96dfb3_b.jpg

 

From fully trimmed load area fresh from a dump run to stripped out ready for the bodyshop.  Yep, a change of order from the original plan means a slot has been booked next week at the bodyshop for the spare wheel well delete and a deposit has been taken on the M62B44 540i engine so that will also be coming out sooner than expected.

This means the whole conversions should be a more speedier process.

 

Are you keeping the OEM SLS system in place or are you looking to swap it out for springs & shocks?

 

If you are keeping the SLS (I hope you are as I'm a fan ;) ) are you upgrading the rear ARB at all and what about swapping the bags out for new Arnott ones, for example?

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10 hours ago, d_a_n1979 said:

 

Are you keeping the OEM SLS system in place or are you looking to swap it out for springs & shocks?

 

If you are keeping the SLS (I hope you are as I'm a fan ;) ) are you upgrading the rear ARB at all and what about swapping the bags out for new Arnott ones, for example?

 

I am keeping the SLS and have an eibach rear ARB along with E36 M3 steel ARB bush shackles.  Rear air springs will be replaced but still deciding which ones to use.

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11 minutes ago, BSS said:

 

I am keeping the SLS and have an eibach rear ARB along with E36 M3 steel ARB bush shackles.  Rear air springs will be replaced but still deciding which ones to use.

 

Sounds perfect and about what I'll be doing with my touring too. 

 

Are you going for polybush ARB bushes or just OEM? 

 

And re the airbags, unless you go OEM BMW, the best ones are Arnott or Aerosus, Arnott get my vote after the research I've done etc. They use Continental rubber

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2 hours ago, d_a_n1979 said:

 

Sounds perfect and about what I'll be doing with my touring too. 

 

Are you going for polybush ARB bushes or just OEM? 

 

And re the airbags, unless you go OEM BMW, the best ones are Arnott or Aerosus, Arnott get my vote after the research I've done etc. They use Continental rubber

The rear eibach ARB came with polly bushes and I have ordered some polly front ARB bushes for the 27mm M5 front ARB.

OEM BMW air spring list a choice of M sport and non M sport.  I have fitted loads of Arnott air springs to X5s, E39s and E61s and they are good quality but I have seen Bilstein list a rear air sporing for the E39.

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56 minutes ago, BSS said:

The rear eibach ARB came with polly bushes and I have ordered some polly front ARB bushes for the 27mm M5 front ARB.

OEM BMW air spring list a choice of M sport and non M sport.  I have fitted loads of Arnott air springs to X5s, E39s and E61s and they are good quality but I have seen Bilstein list a rear air sporing for the E39.

 

They do; but with the reading I've done re them, Arnott, Aerosus and Bilstein; Arnottare the ones to go for

 

There was some quite in-depth research on Bimmerforums where they took an old, failed OEM one apart and compared it to the Arnott ones and they were as good as each other. The Aerosus & Bilstein ones are well made, but everything points to Arnott to be the ones to go for

 

It is all a personal choice; but for me, on the back of all that, Arnott is the way and what I'll be using as part of a bit more 'preventative' maintenance on my touring 

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