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Thread: DAS VADR: Evan's E39 Touring Build Log

  1. #1
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    DAS VADR: Evan's E39 Touring Build Log

    Greetings,

    My name is Evan and I like to modify cars, I also like wagons. I recently bought a 2001 540iT and this is my build log.

    A little about myself. I prefer "clean" styling. I love retrofitting oem components. I love details. I love aesthetics but not at the expense of function. I love "accessible" performance. I love proper fitment.

    I love having a car which goes unnoticed by the general population but catches the eye of an enthusiast. I views cars as a functional piece of equipment which also offers a stimulating driving experience and conveys a sense of style.


    Here are my previous projects...

    2000 BMW E39 M5:
    http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/e39...an-e39-m5.html


    2008 BMW E61:
    http://www.n54tech.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36899



    The E39 M5 was an awesome machine which made a sinister sound. It wasn't the fastest thing in the world but the driving experience was exceptional, very dynamic and lots of theatrics.

    The 535xi E61 was purchased as a replacement since at the time I needed AWD capability and I liked the practicality of a wagon. With the N54 engine tuning potential was massive and I soon took advantage of it. One thing led to another and the E61 is now RWD, is on it's 2nd engine, the auto was swapped to a manual trans, and aside from the front subframe (on the To Do List) and the DSC pump it nearly has a full oem M5 conversion. Purists will be quick to point out that it doesn't have the S85 but I will be quick to point out that my little 6 cylinder makes 550whp and nearly double the torque of the S85. I make no apologies, performance is performance.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I recently picked up a 2001 E39 540i Touring. With the fully depreciated prices of E39s and the fact that they are old enough to find at pick-your-part salvage yards it make them an appealing prospect. They are a lot of car for the money and can be relatively cheap to maintain and modify if you play your cards right.

    The wagon is black on sand beige with and automatic transmission and 127,000 miles. No sport package, no cold weather, no nav (good thing). Wagon was originally a dealership demo car, then lived in Malibu up to 70,000 miles, then with the previous owner in Manhatten Beach from 70,000-127,000 where it didn't see a lot of action the last few years due to the owner doing a lot of international travel.

    I paid $3,800 which is roughly 6% of the MSRP. The wagon is far from perfect but the main body of the wagon (roof and rear 1/4 panels) are in great shape.

    The short term goal is for it to be a "daily beater" to supplement the miles on the E61, it will receive "all of the maintenance," an interior swap; coilovers, wheels, and some minor aesthetic touches.
    When the auto craps out a manual will go in and when the M62TU bites the dust I will seriously look into an S62 swap (I mean, right?).

    Onto the pics....

    Stock the day I picked her up.


    Last edited by ucsbwsr; 09-28-2018 at 12:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    2000 BMW 540iT Dinan S2
    Based on your past builds, I'm looking forward to see what you do with this one.
    - 2000 540iT Dinan S2 -2000 Z3 -

  3. #3
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    I've followed your E61 wagon build, it's pretty rad. Literally the only time I've ever thought an E61 looked good, I hate how they look in stock form. I also saw it in person at Bimmerfest 2017, wish I could have said hi in person but you weren't around.

    Funny how you see an E39 wagon as a beater, I'd rather have an E39 wagon over an E61 if I had to choose one. But I don't like too many newer cars so that's just my thing.

    Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll do with your E39 wagon. Here's what I've done with mine:

    2000 540i/6 | 1997 M3 | 2003 Range Rover HSE | 1992 525it
    Previously owned:
    2000 540i Japanrot Touring - Build Thread | 2003 X5 4.6 - Build Thread | 2004 Range Rover HSE -Build Thread | 2000 M5 Anthracite/Caramel - Build Thread
    2000 540i/6 with 160k miles - Build Thread | 1995 750il with 188k miles - Build Thread | 2003 Mercedes S500 with 96k miles
    2001 540ia with 200k miles - Parts car/Garage couch | 2003 540i6 M-Sport with 199k miles -
    Build Thread | 2003 330i 5-speed Sedan - Build Thread

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyzabolotny View Post
    I've followed your E61 wagon build, it's pretty rad. Literally the only time I've ever thought an E61 looked good, I hate how they look in stock form. I also saw it in person at Bimmerfest 2017, wish I could have said hi in person but you weren't around.

    Funny how you see an E39 wagon as a beater, I'd rather have an E39 wagon over an E61 if I had to choose one. But I don't like too many newer cars so that's just my thing.
    Beater is just a relative term for my situation describing the small financial investment required for acquisition and intended use. I care for my cars obsessively but pick and choose my battles, the maintenance, mods, and performance have to be on point but dings, rock chips, and general wear and tear although I do my best to avoid them I don't loose much sleep over them.

    In general I am with you on the E6X styling, when it came out I thought it was grotesque with the entire body being too creased and too sharp, the headlight design reminded me of a Grandma with diamond embedded wing-shaped glasses. However, once I saw on M5 done "right" the design looked much more at home with proper fitment and an aggressive overall theme. That is why I was dead set on running M5 fenders which would allow me to run the F14 SDCs up front, the concave wheel shape really helps transform the "intention" of the wagon. The E6Xs don't bother me as much as they used to now that I have been desensitized to them but there is nothing like the timeless styling of the E39. Ironically I (recently) used to think the E39 Tourings had a rather bloated rear section compared to a lot of the modern wagon which have a tapering "athletic" roof line, Audi does this best, but now that I have one it looks fine! Maybe I am just a proud Papa.

    Evan

  5. #5
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    That's a nice base you picked up for this project. Can't wait to see what you do to it.
    Set the controls for the heart of the sun

  6. #6
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    Welcome to the forum Evan. Bout time you joined us elders hahaha

  7. #7
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    That e61 is badass!

  8. #8
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    Let's get into it, shall we?

    4 Paw Inspection


    Rear wiper delete and debadge



    Luckily I found an E39 Touring at the local LKQ which had a sport package so I plucked the window trim.


    It wasn't in great shape from rotting in the sun


    It cleaned up nicely with some polishing


    Before


    After



    Replaced burnt out indicator bulb


    Beige dead pedal was ...dead.


    Rear bumper bracket was about 10mm out of alignment


    Before and After


    Smoked side markers


    Cup holders were both broken and needed to have some paper wedged in to keep them from being opened all the time, they were replaced with a functional unit.


    Getting into the engine bay


    The intense washer system or whatever it is leaked and had done it's damage


    Deleted the whole system


    Went back to the salvage yard and collected all the black rear cargo pieces I could along with some inner door/window trim and a new center console insert, all for $120


    Center console before


    ...After


    Let's do it


    Before


    After, clearly still needing 3 pieces.


    Tailgate before


    The donor wagon didn't have the cargo door carpet but after installing everything I thought it looked alright. The theme of the interior will be beige on black so it will fit right in and shouldn't look out of place when it's all said and done. #Custom

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BimmrMeUpSnotty View Post
    That's a nice base you picked up for this project. Can't wait to see what you do to it.
    Thanks, a little rougher than I was hoping for and honestly I had my sights set on a 6 cylinder for the added reliability and economy, ideally in the beige color since I think it is pretty classy but the deal was decent on the 540iT so I jumped on it. Not crazy about black since black luxury cars are so cookie cutter and I have the maintenance of the black paint but perhaps this car will teach me to learn proper paint correction.
    Quote Originally Posted by itsbrokeagain View Post
    Welcome to the forum Evan. Bout time you joined us elders hahaha
    Happy to be here.
    Quote Originally Posted by carlova789 View Post
    That e61 is badass!
    Thanks, I am pretty pleased with the build. It is a fine line with high performance and everyday drivability/practicality but the E61 pulls it off with flying colors. It is a lot of fun to drive; smooth power delivery, smooth engine, and with the custom exhaust system is makes a really nice noise, dare I say Porsche GT3-ish but not as harmonic and 2,000rpms less to work with but it shares similarities and is one of the best N54 exhaust notes I have heard (others agree). It is great for long legged journies as it is for hauling 18 bags of mulch (did it) and with all the drivetrain conversions it has shed some weight and it now 4,000lbs on the dot with a 1/2 tank of gas and no driver do a hair above what the E39 Touring weighs, factor in 550whp and 550wtq and you can see the smiles per hour.


  10. #10
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    What did you do to fix the bumper sag?
    - 2000 540iT Dinan S2 -2000 Z3 -

  11. #11
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    The drivers side of my bumper looks identical to your 'before' pic. Can you detail a little more how you fixed it for spngr311 and myself?

    Great work and a nice looking Touring! That interior will be beautiful.

    -Tim

  12. #12
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    $120 for all black interior bits! Fack....can't even remotely find a black interior wagon around here...

  13. #13
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    Nice find on the touring,looking forward to updates. That e39 M5 is way cool nice stuff.


    and dannyz photobombs yet another thread, lol

    Just listen to the sound of the engine. Isn't that the answer? If you don't understand it, it's not my problem". alex zanardi

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by spngr311 View Post
    What did you do to fix the bumper sag?
    Quote Originally Posted by FieroSS View Post
    The drivers side of my bumper looks identical to your 'before' pic. Can you detail a little more how you fixed it for spngr311 and myself?

    Great work and a nice looking Touring! That interior will be beautiful.

    -Tim

    Sure thing. Both bumpers appear to have been put through some careless driving where they got snagged on something and pulled from underneath. The front bumper bracket mounted on the bumper itself was broken and I did my best to repair it with a screw, the bumper still sticks outward but it will have to do until the M-rep goes on.

    For the rear the repair was quite simple, the bracket which mounts to the body was pulled downward a bit and I only needed to loosen 2 screws, reposition the bracket and tighten the screws. It took some trial and error to get the fitment right as the bracket can be adjusted on an X and Y axis, it was also awkward to work mounting, demounting, and remounting the bumper by myself but it all came together in the end. If adjusting the bracket doesn't solve the issue make sure both brackets on the bumper and body are not damaged. I actually have an extra rear driverside bracket if you guys need, I thought it was busted but ended up just needing the adjustment.


    Here are some pics. You can see how the drivertside bracket was much lower and also tilted outward where the passenger side is nice and vertical.

    Evan



  15. #15
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    Excellent! Fantastic explanation and I'll be adjusting my driver side clip very soon.

    Keep up the great work, Evan. Thanks for the help!

    -Tim

  16. #16
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    Very informative! Thank you very much.
    - 2000 540iT Dinan S2 -2000 Z3 -

  17. #17
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    Naturally...


    My wagon had trim which was body painted with a chrome strip at the bottom, no go on the chrome so as a interim solution I Plasti-Dipped the chrome. Eventually I will have all the trim replaced with the oem M sport/M5 trim black plastic trim.



    Inner door trim on passenger side was oddly bumped out, I thought it was installed improperly but after it was removed it became clear the entire piece was bent. No worries as all the chrome door trim was replaced with oem black trim.




    Muffler delete w/ 4" tip. The delete offers a nice growl with the Y-resonator in place, there is a hint of drone but not bad at all. My wagon is equipped with the 3.15 diff so highway cruising is around 2,500rpm.


    Black Kidneys


    Threw an EZ Lip on as another short term solution. I like to use these as a "filler" to add material under the bumper, my trick is I mount it as far back underneath the bumper as I can since they can look pretty cheesy when they are flaunted on the front of a car, I prefer the subtle/hidden look. I did the same on my E61.


    Not bad for a piece of glorified garage weather stripping...



    Weather stripping on the front window was beyond gone...





    Trim removed



    Pretty tricky to install as I felt the gasket was slightly smaller than it should have been and it wasn't really stretching, the corners are a few millimeters off but oh well. Installing in warm temps + direct sun didn't make it any easier.


    Here are some pics with the exterior blacked out




  18. #18
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    This outta be good. You are moving fast!

  19. #19
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    Enough with the fu-fu aesthetics, let's get to some engine maintenance...

    The engine runs strong with no error codes. There is a very subtle *slap* which happens every 1/2 second at idle once warm, from the YouTube research I have done this doesn't seem to be the chain guide so maybe vanos? At any rate it isn't terribly concerning so I will keep a close eye (ear) on it.

    The engine is so covered in external oil residue and gunk it is almost hard to see where it is leaking from, initial inspection shows it has ALL the leaks. lol None seem to be of high volume as oil was never needed to be added (so says the previous owner) but it is apparent the leaks have been weeping from some time with all the build up. The plan is to replace all the gaskets and some power steering hoses. I also have all the parts on hand or ordered for a full vanos and timing chain guide rebuild, all new gaskets, new OSV, etc. etc. pretty much everything internally and externally which can deteriorate on the M62TU, it will be a bit of work but dividends will be paid via longevity and reliability, hopefully.



    Valve covers were in "typical" rough shape, not sure what that huge gouge by the middle bolt is from :/


    #Typical



    Need to order the lower hoses but replaced the cap gasket


    Oil filter housing mounts were toast, literally broken in 1/2.




    All the leaks


    I like seeing and appreciating the engineering that goes into engines, I also work on my cars so often that I like having this accessible so I plan to keep the engine cover off the motor. The old vac lines and solenoid were a bit of an eyesore so the solenoid was relocated and lines replaced.


    I found a guy on Craigslist selling a set of covers which were "restored" and powdercoated, he never got around to installing them on his personal car so I was able to pick them up for $120 which is very fair from the prices I was seeing. The powder coating doesn't have the best finish as the prep work seemed to be 1/2 assed but they are good enough!


    Leaky leaky. First gaskets to be replaced were for the vanos solenoids. I HATE working on dirty cars, can't stand it, so I always take the time to clean as I go knowing I will benefit from it down the road. Not to mention a clean engine makes it a lot easier to spot issues.
    Before


    After


    More leakage, cylinder 4 in this case.


    Old vs New


    My original plan was to do just the valve covers + gaskets but once the old VC gaskets were removed I noticed that the upper timing chain cover had a portion of gasket which made direct contact with the VCG, it was brittle and was sticking to the VCG, clearly prone to leaking if not addressed even with new VC gaskets. So, I rushed a set of upper TC gaskets from ECS and added it to the current project.


    Upper covers off


    From what I could see there was no apparent damage or chunks falling off of the timing chain guides with the tensioner bolt removed and chains full of slack


    One down one to go


    As a finishing touch I relocated the vac tank and check valve to the firewall to visually clean up the intake manifold. In addition I replaced the hard vac line off the intake with a flexible heater hose and routed it by the injectors, some conduit was added to cover the exposed wired off the throttle body connector. #details


    Much better



    Much more pleasant to look at that manifold instead a bunch of tubes


    Before and After so far. Not really fair since the engine cover it covering all the uglies hidden below.
    Last edited by ucsbwsr; 09-20-2017 at 09:04 PM.

  20. #20
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    Love your work!

    Absinthe makes the tart grow fonder

  21. #21
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    Man, what a nice change! It looked pretty nasty before, but it's looking a lot nicer now. I might just steal your idea of relocating the vacuum lines, I like how clean that looks. I'm not a huge fan of the plastic cover either, it just hides all the fun stuff.

    Let me know if you need any help with the guides when the time comes. I've got all the tools and I've done the job 10 times now. Phoenix is only a short hop and a skip away from California, haha.
    2000 540i/6 | 1997 M3 | 2003 Range Rover HSE | 1992 525it
    Previously owned:
    2000 540i Japanrot Touring - Build Thread | 2003 X5 4.6 - Build Thread | 2004 Range Rover HSE -Build Thread | 2000 M5 Anthracite/Caramel - Build Thread
    2000 540i/6 with 160k miles - Build Thread | 1995 750il with 188k miles - Build Thread | 2003 Mercedes S500 with 96k miles
    2001 540ia with 200k miles - Parts car/Garage couch | 2003 540i6 M-Sport with 199k miles -
    Build Thread | 2003 330i 5-speed Sedan - Build Thread

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyzabolotny View Post
    Man, what a nice change! It looked pretty nasty before, but it's looking a lot nicer now. I might just steal your idea of relocating the vacuum lines, I like how clean that looks. I'm not a huge fan of the plastic cover either, it just hides all the fun stuff.

    Let me know if you need any help with the guides when the time comes. I've got all the tools and I've done the job 10 times now. Phoenix is only a short hop and a skip away from California, haha.
    Steal it! This world needs cleaner engine bays!

    As for the chain guides, thanks for the offer, I might take you up on borrowing/renting the tools. I have a crank hub counter hold and a few other related tools but I will definitely need the vanos timing kit. When I blew my original N54 motor instead of buying a used motor with 80k for $3,000-$4,000 I rolled the dice and bought a 35,000 mile motor from a totaled 335is from a local junk yard for $800, it was "complete" minus turbos and some of the bolt on items were damaged from the accident. The oil pan was cracked and the oil pump took a hit, consequently I replaced all components on the front side of the engine which is very similar to the chain guide overhaul. I got lucky and ended up with a healthy 35,000 mile motor and MADE money on the whole thing by selling the bolt on components form the junkyard motor like the fuel system, wiring harness, etc. to cover the cost of the engine and then I sold my old head to cover the cost of the tools and parts for the rebuild.


  23. #23
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    Haha well that worked out nicely! How did you blow a hole in your N54 by the way? I saw it in your thread but you didn't really say how it happened.

    Unfortunately, selling parts off an M62tu isn't as profitable. They made a lot of M62tu's, and most parts can easily be found in any junkyard since all of these cars are old and can be totaled for a fender bender.
    2000 540i/6 | 1997 M3 | 2003 Range Rover HSE | 1992 525it
    Previously owned:
    2000 540i Japanrot Touring - Build Thread | 2003 X5 4.6 - Build Thread | 2004 Range Rover HSE -Build Thread | 2000 M5 Anthracite/Caramel - Build Thread
    2000 540i/6 with 160k miles - Build Thread | 1995 750il with 188k miles - Build Thread | 2003 Mercedes S500 with 96k miles
    2001 540ia with 200k miles - Parts car/Garage couch | 2003 540i6 M-Sport with 199k miles -
    Build Thread | 2003 330i 5-speed Sedan - Build Thread

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyzabolotny View Post
    Haha well that worked out nicely! How did you blow a hole in your N54 by the way? I saw it in your thread but you didn't really say how it happened.
    Visual inspection points to detonation as cylinder 3 piston was in 10+ pieces. My best guess is there was a random misfire so the DME shut down the direct injection but my supplemental throttle body injection (for ethanol) was slow to react and continued spraying which lead to the detonation.

  25. #25
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    Purchased a small Bluetooth card and one of the PNP Aux in adapters for the CD player. I used the same BT unit in my E61 with great results. Unfortunately I ran into an issue with being able to select/active the AUX in, I can only switch sources between FM, AM, and CD in which CD reads "No CD." This warrants more research but I was under the assumption once there was music playing on the Aux in device it would auto detect. I see some people run the E53 CD player with an actual Aux in.
    Time to do more research...



    My gear selector bezel only had 1 clip remaining out of the original 8. lol I sourced a used one off eBay.


    While swapping the bezels I took the opportunity to clean and moisturize the leather boot.
    Before


    After. Trim will be replaced down the road.



    As I patiently wait for the right deal on a set of Style 167 or Style 37 wheels I have a bunch of goodies waiting to go in:

    KW V1s
    New Aftermarket BMW E60 Front hub/bearing assemblies (lifetime warranty)
    Used OEM BMW E60 Rear hub/bearing assemblies
    New strut mounts all around
    ECS Tuning 75mm stud kit

    The e60 hub conversion will allow me to run 72.56 wheels and side step the silly 74.1 hub bore so I can run some of the lower offset wheels and get my fitment dialed. If I want to run 74.1 wheels I can simply throw on some $10 hubcentric rings, simple.

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