Wonderful car, looks great, drives better. V8 thirsty around town but not bad (25mpg) on hwy, 19mpg avg over 40k mi. I'll dare to say 6-spd manual has long-ish throws & clutch delay valve (CDV) makes smooth driving tough. Bought used w/80k, now have 117k. Repairs: Final stage unit (FSU) for climate control (installed myself), coolant reservoir (recently; cooling system had been gone through before I bought). Now needs brakes (again--they were replaced just before I purchased), some clunking from front end (but steers/rides fine). What other car can one find for under $10k w/this much gravitas, ability & quality? Much prefer to newer 5-series. Still stylish/impressive to clients. A classic.
build quality interior materials and design ride/handling compromise is just about perfect quiet interior fold-down rear seats (optional, VERY desirable)
cupholders (of course) cooling system components (but not too $$ and can replace yourself) valley pan gaskets on V8 remove CDV on manual trans cars (easy/cheap fix)
I got this car new, blue with the M sport suspension, then did a ton of mods right in the first year to make it unique and just an absolute monster in terms of HP and torque. Lowered, body kit, Dinan engine and transmission mods, Remus exhaust system, 19-inch wheels, subwoofer, bigger brakes, too many upgrades to list. I love this car, the performance is incredible, I have pegged the speedo at 155mph and driven for over an hour at 135mph with the engine staying nice and cool. The 4.4L V8 with custom exhaust has an awesome sound. Having said all that, you really need to be on top of your game keeping this car running well. You need to have a race mechanic that knows everything about BMW.
4.4L V8, transmission, rear wheel drive, M sport suspension, exterior style, solid and precise steering, driver's car
Lots of small stuff: Use metal instead of plastic in radiator tank connections, improve oil separator valve design, improve secondary air system components, improve evaporative emission system, mass air sensor design, precat O2 sensor design, camshaft VANOS control, AC final stage control unit design.
I purchased this car used/private sale as 3rd owner w/ approximately 60,000 miles. I absolutely loved to drive this car. Driving it out on the highway was a little slice of heaven. Great feel. Solid. But wait. In the two years I owned this car, I put roughly $6,000 into the car on repairs. I had to have it towed so often that I had my local towing company programmed into my cell phone. Repairs averaged $600 per hit. I finally had to throw in the towel when the last repair (something electrical) totaled over $1,200. Used the car as trade in for new Lexus. Have heard from my local BMW repair specialist that these cars often hit the wall at approximately 70 to 80 thousand miles. Beware.
I have owned my 540i for six years now and will be giving it to my son. It is a pleasure to drive and has very good safety features and can get 28 - 30 MPG cruising on the freeway at 75 MPH. As for reliability - lets just say a Ford Taurus is way better and much less expensive to repair. Even a GM car would have better reliability and that isn't saying much. For as much as I love the way the car drives, I can say I will never own another Bimmer. Looking forward to a Pontiac G8 GT
Handling, sound system, fuel economy
The rest of the car needs to be engineered to last as long as the body and engine. Too many problems to list and too expensive to repair