Supercharged 600bhp 2001 BMW M5 Touring E39
If you want something done right, do it yourself, that’s how the saying goes, and that’s exactly what you need to do when you want a supercharged E39 M5 Touring...
Words: Elizabeth de Latour
Photos: Ade Brannan
Supercharged E39 M5 TouringEstate of Mind
BMW never made an E39 M5 Touring, so this owner took matters into his own hands, and the result of his work is a 600hp supercharged wide-arch beast.
We find BMW’s lack of faith in high-performance estates disturbing. After dipping its toe in the water with the E34 M5 and its E61 successor, BMW bowed out from the rapid wagon game, allowing Mercedes’ AMG estates and Audi’s RS Avants to assert dominance Only now, finally, after five previous generations of M3 has a Touring arrived and judging by how many we're seeing and how positive the reviews are, hopefully, this one will be sticking around. But it's slim pickings for fast BMW estate fans. If you want something rapid and Touring-shaped that Isn’t one of these three Bavarian offerings, you either have to sit there and be sad about it, or you take matters into your own hands, and you do something about it. And that’s exactly what Steve Thomas (@d41tma) did, and the supercharged E39 M5 Touring he’s created is nothing short of a masterpiece.
What might surprise you about Steve is that BMWs were not actually his first motoring love. “I’ve been into BMs since the early 2000s. I was a Ford fanatic until then, but as I got older, I wanted something a bit more prestigious. BMW has a good following and plenty of options to modify. This includes interior/exterior and engine conversions," he reasons, and their appeal is undeniable. It’s why we’re here, after all. For Steve, it was the E39 that paved the way for his BMW ownership experience, and that's a fine place to start. “My first BMW was a manual 530d Saloon. I liked the look and driving aspect. It felt so much better than the Fords I had been used to,” he grins, and from there he was hooked.
After his first taste of E39 ownership, Steve went on to own several BMWs, including an E36 M3, an E46 330d, a couple more E39 530ds, and an E39 MS, so you can see where his inspiration for this build came from. «When it came to this E39, I liked the colour mainly as I wanted a Sterling grey car, preferably a Touring. I knew I was going to modify it from the outset, even having a set of rare AC Schnitzer Type 3 Racing split rims to go on before I even owned the car,» he chuckles.
“I found the car in a local advert, it was in good condition but a totally standard model. I had a rough plan, but that plan has evolved and grown bigger every year," he says, and he's not kidding. But then again, with a couple of magazine-featured Ford projects under his belt, including an Escort RS Turbo S2 and a Sierra RS Cosworth three-door, Steve is no stranger to big builds, and this is definitely a big build. Every aspect of this Touring impresses, and Steve clearly does not do things by halves because so much work has gone into creating this epic E39. While he didn’t start with the engine, we will because it’s impossible not to get excited about an S62 V8, especially when it’s sitting in an E39 estate body, and that’s an irresistible combo. “It’s a full M5 engine conversion,” Steve begins, but this S62 is very far removed from stock. “It’s got uprated spark plugs, one stage colder, an uprated fuel pump, Aquamist water injection kit, Hayward and Scott back boxes, an Evolve supercharger kit and billet plenum, larger injectors, plus an intercooler. I had done some research and found that these changes would be a better option than others.
In total, the transfer from the donor car took about 14 months because I had to wait for some input from other people,” he says. That is a comprehensive spec list, and it’s really taken this S62 to the next level. The star of the show is, without a doubt, the Evolve supercharger kit, and with that on board, this mighty V8 is now making some serious power, as if 400hp wasn’t already enough. How much?
Well, Steve’s not yet had his Touring on the dyno, but going by Evolve’s figures and results other owners had, it should be making around 600hp along with 475lb ft of torque, which makes this one hell of a rapid wagon. And while this E39 originally came with a five-speed auto, the S62 has been fitted with its correct Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, and Steve has added an E60 545i short-shift to improve the action.
With the engine conversion done, Steve turned his attention to the brakes, which needed a boost to be able to cope with the sort of pace this Touring was now capable of, and he’s fitted some serious stoppers to his E39. Up front sit massive eight-piston K-Sport calipers with 356mm discs, while at the rear, six-pot PB calipers clamp onto the same-sized discs, and this combo ensures this 5 Series is not short on stopping power.
And with the M5 engine fitted, Steve felt that his Five deserved some more appropriate styling. “Since the engine conversion was completed, I felt it needed the body to back up the power, it needed to look more aggressive, similar to the E46 M3,” he says, and with the E39 M5 looking virtually identical to its non-M counterparts, we can definitely see where he’s coming from. “I have always thought that all V8s should have a bonnet bulge, so I went with an E9x M3 bulge plus vents. A mate of mine, Wade (@mohawkcustoms), fitted and blended in the bodywork for the OEM+ look, and it took about three-to-four weeks to complete,” says Steve, and the end result is stunning. Where BMW’s own E39 M5 is discreet to the point of being invisible to all but those in the know, Steve’s M5 Touring build is anything but. The wide arches suit the car perfectly while at the same time endowing it with unreal road presence and an incredible sense of muscle, and they give this Touring so much attitude. Combined with that bonnet bulge and vents, the aggression is off the charts.
But there’s so much more going on here than just the widebody conversion, and Steve has put in so much work to get his E39 looking just right. Up front, there’s an M5 bumper complete with Hamann fog light covers and splitter, and then you’ve got the genuine M5 mirrors, Zender side skirts, and the Alpina side window panel trims with custom S62 V8s badges. At the rear, meanwhile, sit a pair of spoilers, including a rare lower Alpina tailgate item, plus a homemade finned diffuser that frames the quad exhausts from which emanates a sensational soundtrack.
The car’s looks are further enhanced by Steve’s choice of wheels, and while he’s had three other sets on the car, these are his favourite so far and understandably so. He’s running 19” Rotiform LHRs, and these three-piece beauties measure 10.5”-wide up front and 11.5” across at the rear, filling out the fat arches to perfection, while the tight cross-spoke design suits the E39 so well. And, as you can clearly tell, on the suspension front he’s treated his E39 build to some air ride. “It’s running an Air Lift Performance 3P air-ride kit with modified couplings, on standard OEM rear airbags, with the accumulators deleted.
All the suspension arms etc. were renewed when the engine conversion was being completed. Also, I added M5 front and rear anti-roll bars, some Powerflex bushes and a reinforced diff mount. I just thought it would be a nice option to have the air-ride kit, and the rest just enhanced the performance and handling,” reasons Steve. While the air-ride adds to the visual drama, we love the fact that Steve hasn’t neglected the handling side of things, to be able to really enjoy everything that supercharged S62 has to offer. And, just when you thought this build was over, Steve opens the doors and shows you that he’s been very busy with the interior, too, and there’s so much to take in here. “I always knew that it was going to be OEM+ style, enhancing what is already a nice place to be. A lot of E38 parts fit with some modification, and added a bit more of the executive feel, being the big brother at that time,” he says, and we love what he’s done.
First of all, he’s fitted a set of 18-way adjustable heated Contour seats, complete with picnic tables and vanity mirrors, and to match these, he’s added E38 rear headrests. Then you’ve got the E38 centre armrest and illuminated door handles, along with an extended leather centre console and door cards. But the really special parts are the custom elements he’s added, like the Alcantara trim with recessed BMW Individual badges and the custom heated Sport steering wheel, with perforated leather grips and two-tone Alcantara trim. And for the finishing touch, Steve has done a complete 2014 NBT iDrive install.
It includes a custom-mounted iDrive controller by the handbrake, and the screen is framed by an Alcantara surround, and it's a spectacular addition that really modernises the interior.
The sheer scale of this build cannot be underestimated, but then again, it’s very much been a long term project, with Steve having owned the car for 10 years now, and it’s far from finished. “The project continues, I will always find something else to change on it. I still have a lot of plans in the pipeline, including the interior headlining in Alcantara, heated and cooled front seats, heated and cooled rear seats with massage and lumbar adjustment, electric side and rear blinds, double-glazed windows, quad projector headlights, and I am sure I will find more,” he chuckles And out of everything he's done to the car. what’s his favourite part of the whole build? “It has to be the engine conversion because when I owned an M5. I loved the engine, but I always preferred the estate model. This way. I have combined both,” he smiles, and this E39 is truly the best of both worlds
Steve’s M5 Touring build is nothing short of spectacular and the amount of work he’s put into the project is truly inspirational His dedication to this build is truly second to none, and his passion for it continues unabated. And it’s clear that his taste for fast estates also continues unabated, with this build merely having stoked the fires. “I really fancyan F81 M3 Touring build.” he says with a smile, and it’s clear that a fast estate simply cannot be beaten. And. most importantly, whatever comes next, this magnificent M5 Touring is going nowhere.
When it came to this E39, I liked the colour mainly as I wanted a Sterling grey car, preferably a Touring. I knew I was going to modify it from the outset… I had a rough plan, but that plan has evolved and grown bigger every year
DATA FILE Supercharged BMW E39 M5 Touring
- ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.9-litre V8 S62B50, Evolve supercharger kit, Aquamist water injection system, NGK one-step colder spark plugs, electric fan conversion, DeatschWerks DW400 fuel pump, Hayward and Scott rear quad exhaust. Getrag Type D sixspeed manual gearbox, E60 545i shortshifter, E39 M5 LSD
- MAX POWER: Approx. 600hp @ 6300rpm
- MAX TORQUE: Approx. 475lb ft @ 3500rpm
- CHASSIS: 10.5x19” (front) and 11.5x19” (rear) Rotiform LHR wheels with 275/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, Air Lift Performance 3H air suspension and front struts, OEM rear airbags with modified couplings with control from 3H management, E39 M5 anti-roll bars (front and rear), all-new suspension with Powerflex bushes in certain areas, reinforced diff mounting point, K-Sport BBK with eight-piston calipers and 356mm vented discs (front), PB BBK with six-piston calipers and 356mm discs (rear), stainless braided brake lines
- EXTERIOR: Individual Sterling grey, wide-body conversion, E92 power-dome bonnet with vents, M5 front bumper, Hamann splitter and fog light covers, xenon projector fog lights, amber front indicators, genuine E39 M5 mirrors, Zender side skirts, colour-coded exterior trim with recessed BMW Individual badges, Alpina side-window panel trims with custom S62 V8s badges, amber side repeaters, amber rear Celis lights, upper tailgate spoiler, Alpina lower tailgate spoiler, homemade finned rear diffuser, tinted windows
- INTERIOR: 18-way adjustable heated Contour seats with picnic tables and vanity mirrors from E38 7 Series, E38 centre armrest, interior/ exterior illuminated door handles, and rear headrests, extended leather centre console and door cards, Alcantaracovered interior trim with recessed BMW Individual badges, custom heated leather and Alcantara Sport steering wheel, full 2014 F11 NBT iDrive install with custommounted screen and controller, twin full switch packs, rear ski bag option
- THANKS Huge thanks to my partner Alyson for putting up with the time spent doing the conversion, the road trips for parts and the research I have done to be able to complete the work. Also, the BMW E39 Club UK admin team for driving all over the country to lend a hand on the engine install day and doing it all again on the supercharger install day. Finally, my mates on the continent, Tomi Gunc and Jorg Seifert, for helping source parts and interior mods
From the E38 Contour seats to the custom steering wheel and NBT iDrive, the interior is simply amazing.
Steve’s owned his E39 Touring for 10 years now, and he’s got plenty more planned for it.
It’s a full M5 engine conversion. It’s got uprated spark plugs, one stage colder, an uprated fuel pump, Aquamist water injection kit, Hayward and Scott back boxes, an Evolve supercharger kit and billet plenum, larger injectors, plus an intercooler
Supercharged S62 V8 is making around 600hp