Performance Bargain: Should You Avoid The E60 M5?

A​ 500hp+ naturally aspirated V10 for £10K - What could possibly go wrong?

41w ago

W​hilst enormous depreciation isn't uncommon, it was surprising to discover that a relatively modern BMW with a 5.0-litre V10 could be had for around £10-15K. On paper, it sounds too good to be true.

On social media, the E60 M5 is widely renowned as one of the most unreliable performance cars of the 21st Century. But is it really just a £10K ticking time-bomb?

L​et's start with the good points. First of all, the performance was supercar rivalling at the time. With a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a spine-tingling soundtrack, it's clear why automotive journalists praised the E60 M5 for the driving experience. The hydraulic steering rack and rear-wheel drive layout, made the M5 an animal in the corners. It truly was a wolf in sheep clothing. But then they started to age...

"T​his is one of the ugliest and most annoying cars in the world - but at the touch of a button, it becomes one of the very best"

J​eremy clarkson

T​he SMG gearbox was 'lurchy' and dimwitted, although aggressive and dramatic when you're on it - very much adds to the driving experience.. Not only that but, on forums, owners complain about frequent gearbox malfunctions with the car getting stuck in gear or staying in neutral. This pales into comparison when you consider catastrophic engine failure, common in this generation of M5 and M6. It happens to most examples, where metal bearing material gets into the engine oil and, in short, you'll probably need a new engine. Yikes...

I​t's not all doom and gloom. Find a well sorted one, perhaps with a replacement engine, and you should be in the clear for a while. Unless you're willing to fork out on parts, the E60 M5 is not a long-termer.

T​his generation M5 is from a time where manufacturers could just whack an enormous gas-guzzling engine in their regular cars, to add a bit of spice. Unfortunately, as times change, we will see less and less of this. That, in my opinion makes the E60 M5 a future classic. It's just unfortunate that we didn't get the six-speed manual offered in the UK.

​Would you buy an E60 M5? Maybe you're an owner? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments (18)

  • I have seen all the videos about it telling not to buy one. I have read a lot about all the stuff which can go wrong (rod bearings, vanos, smg, etc.). I have heard everything about the “slow” and “bad” SMG III.

    And still i have bought one last year. Not the saloon, but the estate version (E61 that is).

    If you are buying a car like this, don’t buy a cheap one. If you are buying a car like this, keep some “change” for upcoming troubleshooting and maintenance. If you own a car like this, treat it’s like it’s meant to be treated, meaning warm it up and cool it down, when it’s warm give it the beans. But don’t be a torture master and let it sit at redline for ages.

    You will be rewarded with one of the finest engines ever built. Every time I drive it and I hear that glorious V10 and it starts to rev and rev and rev. It’s just perfect.

      9 months ago
  • I’d love to drive one but preferably someone else’s just to hear that V10 scream.

    We all know this won’t ever be repeated by BMW as downsizing caused by emissions targets has killed it off, I’d probably however look to buy a 535d and have it tuned to give similar performance and still be more reliable.

      9 months ago
  • I think you could call them a tick in the box car as it’s nice to say you owned one.

      9 months ago
  • I would go one generation back to an E39 M5. So handsome , timeless and a manual!

      9 months ago
  • Super exciting, fabulously engineered, but fragile and not really practical, at far as I know. Basically, typical BMW.

    Even the cars that Top gear had on test didn't go without failures. One that Clarkson drove developed some sort of problem with the brakes, and when the Stig drove one on the track, the diff exoloded

      9 months ago