I happened upon an advert for a used BMW M5 E60 the other day, 100k miles on the clock, in black with various extras but nothing out of the ordinary installed, £14.5k was all that was being asked.
Whilst £14.5k might seem like a bargain for all that performance, 100k miles, not what I’d personally be looking for. There are still some low mileage examples out there for reasonable money, one such example is this 2006 M5, it’s only covered a mere 27,172 miles since it rolled out of the factory, that’s less than 3k miles per year since new. The price for all this greatness is a very reasonable £19,990 ($25,700), you have to bear in mind that this M5 when new would have been around £66k, give or take that’s £5k a year in depreciation.
So should I buy a 10-year old M5 with 507bhp instead of something new for £20k, for a start there is obviously nothing you can buy here in the UK today for £20,000 that has 507bhp or anywhere near that power figure, chalk up a win for the M5 here.
As Spiderman’s uncle once said to him ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, this ethos applies to the E60 M5, simply put, it’s complex car with a screaming V10 5.0 Litre engine that even if it has been maintained, it will need looking after, that care, however, comes at a price.
Firstly let’s start with the day running of the M5, assuming you want to actually drive it somewhere, yep you guessed it, a 5.0 litre V10 is not economical, who knew right! According to user posts from totalmcars.com, city driving will mean that you will get 8-10mpg from your M5, that is not a misprint, 8-10mpg which if you described in one word, it would be horrendous.
It doesn’t get much better out of town either, expect 18-22mpg on a motorway run, this, however, comes with a caveat, you’ll need a very light foot and a strong tail wind, as the M5 should only be run on high octane petrol you will also have to include that additional cost.
Using a benchmark of a regular journey I used to do weekly, London to Durham in the north of England, a total round trip of 528 miles, my total cost was around £65 getting 39-44mpg, the total estimated cost in an E60 M5, given for city driving at each end (25 miles of the journey) and the fact that you’re driving a fucking M5, are you going to take it easy, hell no! So, 18 mpg estimated, for a 528-mile journey, the total cost would be ...........wait for it..........£189.
Yes, I did say £189, this is based on £1.21 per litre for high octane unleaded, of which you will need 156 litres to complete this journey. The final downside of all this thirst is the M5’s fuel tank, it only has a capacity of 70 litres, which is 18 gallons, at 18 mpg, you will run out of fuel after a mere 324 miles which is again, horrendous.
So you’re going to drive your M5 regardless of the fuel cost, all this driving means that consumable parts such as tyres and brakes are going to need replacing, the E60 M5 has 19-inch wheels which are the size that will fit over the massive front brakes, you have no choice on the matter, tyres for these massive rims have to be top quality, I mean you wouldn’t want to drive your super saloon around on Chinese remoulds would you. The cost of tyre for your M5, well this varies by brand, but expect to pay a base cost of at least £250 to £350 a corner, also you will be lucky to get 8-10k miles from a set of tyres.
So you are feeding your M5 with good fuel, it has good shoes on it, what about keeping all of its greasy bits running smoothly. Whilst numbers do vary, you can expect your M5 to drink its way through a litre of oil every 1-3k miles depending on if your drive it in or out of town, 1 litre of M5 friendly oil is around £15 so not too bad, it’s a highly tuned motor so it’s going to drink it oil a bit.
The final part of the wear and tear, prior to the regular servicing is the brakes, if you need these changed out front and back and at some point you will, the cost of this work is £1,500 to £1,800 depending on the dealer you happen to visit, you buy the BMW parts only and have them fitted, the cost of just the discs and pads before fitting is still around £1k though, all around stopping is a steep business. Its estimated that a new set of brake discs will last 30k to 40k miles, pads should last around 15k miles, again this is dependent on how you drive your M5.
Now, regular servicing of your M5 just to keep it on the road, oil services are the most regular ones and should be done at 9k mile intervals, the cost of each of these will be £300 to £450 dependent on what’s needed. In between each oil service you are also going to need a major one, this is where the bad news continues, the cost of this is likely to be £1,500 to £1,900, this does not include any extras which may need changing, brake pads, for example, add £200, brake fluid change, add £130, you get the picture with the additional expenses here.
Now, the really bad news, BMW has sort of admitted that the clutch and flywheel assembly on the E60 M5 was, to coin a phrase ‘a bit shit’. Some cars will have had this done by BMW for free back in the day due to failures early on, whilst I cannot determine if mileage is an issue that causes this as various forum post quote 30k miles to 90k miles and everything in between needing a replacement, if you are not covered by a warranty and you need a new clutch and flywheel, expect to pay £3k for this work which is a lot.
So with a relatively low investment of £20k for a car that is capable of mind-bending speeds and massive performance, should you buy one, hell yes you should. That wailing V10, the noise, that magnificent noise! To quote Jeremy Clarkson ‘”You want to take it on, don’t bother, doesn’t matter what you’ve got, doesn’t matter what you’ve ever driven, this is quicker, it's faster, it’s more astonishing”. Remove the limiter and the M5 E60 will go all the way to a staggering 204mph, according to YouTube, it completes this astonishing speed without ever seeming to break a sweat.
So there you have it, the BMW M5 E60, should you buy one, yes is the simple answer, if you can afford to run the thing and maintain it, for the asking price is there any car out there that is more rewarding, more theatrical, with an absolute sense of pomp and circumstance about it, I think not.