Never meet your heroes: we only went and bought a BMW M5 V10 Touring
Maybe they’re right about meeting your heroes, but has a little more than two years living with a BMW M5 Touring been a misery or magical?
It was a mid-September evening, 2017. I remember it well. We were in our holiday accommodation on the North Norfolk coast and winding down from another day of walking our dogs along glorious beaches, all while fending off the machinations of our near-three-year-old son, who’d spent all his waking hours making incessant demands. Most of them involving ice cream.
Blessedly, he was upstairs in bed, and so peace reigned. I was idly watching something crap on a telly and The Wife was frittering away a few minutes on the laptop when she cleared her throat. “There’s an Interlagos M5 Touring up for sale,” she said, casually.
To say I launched myself horizontally across the room to snatch the laptop from her hands would be exaggerating somewhat, but you get my general drift. You see, as a petrolhead, the E61 BMW M5 (nerd alert: the ‘Touring’ bit is tautologous if you use the correct E-code) was My Dream Car. Had been since I first sampled it when new in 2007. Probably always would be. I simply adored the idea of some lunatic in Munich putting entirely the wrong engine into a 5 Series wagon, and then the powers-that-be deciding to greenlight the project because they couldn’t be bothered to undo this most grievous error.
It's still unbelievable that there's a V10 under the bonnet.
By 2017, though, I’d given up hope of finding the perfect E61 V10. I’d been fruitlessly scouring the classifieds for four years. I knew what I wanted: Interlagos Blue outside, Silverstone inside, no wood trim, no ‘M6’ Type 167M alloys (I prefer the M5’s Type 166M rims) and it needed to proudly display its model badges. But such examples were always top dollar, compared to other used M5s, and they never stayed on sale for long. I’d become despondent. I was considering Carbon Black over Imola instead. Or maybe even a ropey old Indianapolis Red specimen…
Anyway, the car I was staring at in that online ad was overpriced and showing 89,000 miles; leggy. Also, I was on holiday with my family in Norfolk – buggering off to Banbury to size up a car for a few hours was totally out of the question. So I made a deal with Mrs R: forget about it until we got home, five days later. If it remained available, great. If not, ah well. Secretly, I was hoping it was a bit of a hound; I didn’t have anything like the money to buy it, truth be told, so even if I did go and see it, I couldn’t realistically purchase it.
The plate came with the car.
And so, by October, I found myself standing in a blustery car park atop the Burton Dassett Hills, looking at V10 OXX – my name now indelibly emblazoned on its V5C registration document. Curses. Oh, don’t get me wrong; it was a car with brilliant provenance, it drove so sweetly I thought I was back in ‘07 sampling the E61 M5 for the first time, and it was completely my ideal spec. It even had Logic 7 sound, an Eisenmann exhaust and Auto High Beam.
The honeymoon period lasted through the winter of 2017/18. I drove the M5 regularly. It was an utter delight. The noise of that S85, the M5’s speed, the way a 1.9-tonne estate managed to steer and handle so crisply. I was thrilled, even if I’d admit it was a ‘50-yarder’ that required you to stand well back to get the best view.
And then the realities started to hit. It was chewing through 10w-60 oil like there was no tomorrow. Super Unleaded was drained even faster; the fuel warning light glowed seemingly constantly. Aesthetic niggles, like the knackered passenger cupholder, peeling lacquer on the paintwork and grotty centre caps for the 19s, were getting on my pip. The E60/1’s stupid twin-catch bonnet release failed; standard. The indicator LEDs on the SMG-lever went kaput. The M5T might’ve sailed through its MOT in July 2018 with no advisories whatsoever, but less than 800 miles and a year later, it most certainly did not ‘sail through’ – it passed, with a list of urgent, costly remedial work.
7.1 miles done, must be time to fill it up again...
Nowadays, it’s SORNed for six months of the year and so it mainly squats on my drive, either under its protective cover or watching forlornly as a never-ending tide of press cars washes in and out before it – fast estates, other Beemers, things with V10s and V12s, the lot. It’s not getting used enough. And while I’ve sorted out a number of the tiny, annoying issues and also spent plenty rectifying the seized lower suspension-arm bushes, I’ve still got to replace all of the brake discs and pads. And that faulty gear lever. Furthermore, the BMW has cynically managed to develop a leak in the rear-left passenger door that soaks the footwell through in even the lightest rain; I need not remind you that 2020 has been quite a wet year so far.
An electrical gremlin has knocked out half the high-level brake LEDs and one taillight, and I’m no auto-electrician so fixing that’s going to cost me.
Keep back and it looks amazing.
In short, the honeymoon period is well and truly over. I took the plunge on ‘My Dream Car’ and, while it hasn’t (yet) become a nightmare, on the other hand this is no saccharine ‘happily ever after’ love story between man and M5. The BMW is problematic if I drive it, even more troublesome if it stagnates. It drains me of funds if I so much as look at it a bit funny.
I still adore it, still revel in the hollow yowl as it sweeps past 5,000rpm, still like peering out of my windows and seeing its Bangle-penned form lurking there. But let it be a cautionary tale to others contemplating relatively inexpensive second-hand cars that were emphatically not relatively inexpensive to either buy or run when new: you can live out your dreams on a budget if you so wish – yet be prepared for frustration along the way.
Now, which car will I take to the airport...
Don’t meet your heroes? Well, to be fair, meeting them isn’t the problem. It’s living with them that brings the real drama.
I hope you're grateful for this, as it likely cost Matt a tank of fuel...