The E39 M5 is arguably one of the greatest sports sedans ever made. Debuting at the turn of the century, the muscular four-door came out of the box with a 4941cc V8 capable of 394hp and 368 lb-ft. Shifting the six-speed manual to its 7000rpm redline, the M5 accelerated faster than most competitors and faster on the quarter mile than its little brother M3.
The 5er could handle like a sports car too, thanks to tuned shocks, lower springsand a limited-slip differential. The car also embodied panache and luxury, becoming a favorite among business executives and affluent ar enthusiasts.
To be honest, we don't normally pay attention to the M5 because of their premium price tag. But with its age, the cost of E39s has dropped significantly - it's not difficult to find a clean, pre-owned example under $20k. So while attending this year's MFest (featured elsewhere), we got acquainted with Mert Contapay and his M5 show car. With its widebody, House of Kolor paint and ear-blistering stereo, it's possibly the most extreme E39 M5 we've encountered.
Hailing from San Francisco, Mert's no stranger to BMWs. "My dad was into cars and I followed him," he began. "He took me to my first show when I was five. From there it was all about cars. Even as I was a kid, I talked about being a mechanic."
Mert's childhood dream became a reality; 15 years ago he enrolled at UTI, becoming a certified BMW service technician shortly after. Working on Bimmers by day, he had his hands full after hours wrenching on nearly 20 different project cars. His portfolio included non-BMWs such as an Eagle Talon, Honda Civic and Chevy Camaro. Even bikes like the Yamaha R1 and R6 interested him. But ultimately, BMW was the name of the game, with several E30 and E36 3-Series under his belt and, of course, this M5.
Four years ago, Mert purchased the stock '00 M5. "It was my wife's daily driver," he explained. "But she complained about how it drank too much gas. She wanted something more economical, so I got her a 528i."
The M5 sat in the garage like a neglected stepchild until a conversation with friend Girard De Guzman, owner of Sagenhaft Design. Then the decision was taken to pimp the M5 into a show-stunner.
Mert got the ball rolling with a set of wheels and tint. But the project gained pace after a trip to Bimmerfest '07. "Up in NorCal there's not many fixed-up BMWs. But when I saw the cars at Bimmerfest, I really wanted to pursue this," he revealed.
A full Hamann body kit was painted and installed while the interior received Hamann accessories. The steering wheel and instrument cluster were updated to '01-spec for a more modern feel.
Progress continued with a sound system - one of the more elaborate aspects of the car. Sagenhaft designed the setup, which included two enormous 19'' LCD monitors on the trunk lid, two amps, a 13.5'' sub and a set of component speakers.
Up front, the in-dash widescreen navigation unit plays TV, DVDs or from a selection of game consoles. Two 7'' Savv headrest monitors ensured the kids would be entertained, and Mert credited Custom Car Alarms for perfecting the intricate installation and wiring.
At this point, Mert joined car club TWCompetition, with whom he debuted his car at Hot Import Nights in '08.
After attending the show, he realized he hadn't set the bar high enough. "I saw other M5s that looked very similar to my car. And that's when I decided I wanted to be completely unique," he explained.
Nothing says "custom show car" like a widebody conversion, so Mert met with buddy Randy Riggs from R Rydes who helped design the concept. They taped lines on the car to see what they wanted before delivering the BMW to Auto Explosion in Gardena, CA for the fabrication work.
However, Mert first had to order new wheels so the fenders could be mocked-up. He chose DPE S-20 wheels, measuring 20x9.5'' front and 20x11'' rear. These dubs featured 6'' rear lips, which was the widest offered at the time.
With the DPEs mounted, the new arches took shape - the fronts stretched 2.5'' from the original bodylines, and the rears were 3.5'' wider.
To bring out the smooth criminal, Mert had the rear fenders molded to the doors. They then molded the rear bumper, RD Sport side skirts and Exotic Tuning front lip. To make the exterior even smoother, the side moldings were also filled.
Buying a Vorsteiner hood, it was tidied by polishing the vents and shaving the washer jets. The trunk was a modified carbon piece from CA Automotive that mimicked the M3 CSL.
The madness crept into the engine bay, where the strut towers were smoothed, even relocating some wiring and the hood release cable to complete the task.
With the sanding, filling and constructing out of the way, it was time for paint. The M5 was originally a subtle Le Mans blue, but the factory color didn't pop enough. Dipping into the House of Kolor palette, Kameleon Sapphire pearl was chosen. "I wanted something to show the widebody from every angle," Mert told us. "When you looked atthe car from the side, it was just a solid color. You could barely tell it had a widebody at all. That's why we used a candy pearl so you can see the depth of the fenders."
Chassis and engine upgrades finished the long project. Brembo GT big brakes consisted of 15'' front and 13.5'' rear drilled rotors matched to eight- and four-piston calipers respectively. Mert had the calipers painted Lamborghini yellow to contrast the exterior.
For suspension, KW V3 coilovers provided the necessary height and damping adjustment, while the Dinan strut and sway bars stiffened everything.
Engine upgrades were minimal since the S62 V8 was already a stout performer, but a pair of Dinan carbon intakes, Supersprint headers and X-pipes, plus Dinan software bumped throttle response, engine noise and power. According to Mert, most stock E39 M5s dyno around 320-330whp, while his was tuned to 372whp.
To improve acceleration, the stock 3.15:1 final drive was swapped for a 3.62 from an E46 M3. And with more power on the way, including a supercharger in the pipeline, the M5 is quite a monster.
The owner also plans to add a carbon roof panel in order to maintain its continuous upgrade program with the aim of having the most unique M5 in North America.
Engine: 4.9L S62 V8 with Dinan carbon cold-air intakes, high-flow mass airflow meter, mufflers and stage 4 software, Supersprint headers and X-pipes, shaved engine bay with wire tuck
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with Spec lightweight flywheel, UUC Motorwerks Evo 3 short shift kit, 3.62:1 limited-slip diff
Brakes: 15'' front, 13.58'' rear Brembo GT drilled rotors with eight-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, painted Lamborghini yellow, carbon brake ducts
Suspension: KW V3 coilovers, Dinan front strut tower bar and rear sway bar
Wheels & Tires: 20x9.5'' front, 20x11'' rear DPE S-20 wheels with flat black centers and inner barrels, shadow chrome outer barrels (4.5/6'' lips), 255/30 R20 front, 305/25 R20 rear Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior: fender flares, molded Exotic Tuning front lip with carbon inserts, shaved moldings, molded carbon RD Sport side skirts and rear bumper, Vorsteiner rear diffuser, modified Hamann roof spoiler, CA Automotive CSL-style carbon trunk, Vorsteiner carbon hood with shaved washer jets, carbon kidney grilles, black roof, smoked Hella Euro headlights, LED tail lights and markers, tint, Umnitza Predator ICE v3 blue angle-eyes, 8K low beam, 3K high beam, 8K foglight bulbs, strobes, House of Kolor Kameleon Sapphire pearl paint
Interior: '01 BMW M5 steering wheel and instrument cluster, Hamann pedals, shift knob and e-brake handle, Dinan mats, LeatherZ tri-stitched shifter and e-brake boots, carbon interior trim, LED interior and door lights
Audio/Visual: widescreen nav monitor, onboard nav/TV module, DVD player, upgraded Mk4 DVD nav computer, two 7'' Savv headrest monitors, Sony PS2 and PS3, Nintendo Wii, Sagenhaft Designs trunk enclosure with 13.5" JL Audio W7 sub, 1000/1 and 450/4 Slash V2 amps, ZR525-CSI front and rear components and clean sweep modules, Kinetic battery, two 19'' LCD monitors in trunklid, Boyo VTK100 rearview camera, hardwired Valentine 1
Thanks: wife and family, TWCompetition, Show N' Go Travel, Auto Explosion, Falken Tires, MFest, Garageworks, Sagenhaft Designs, Umnitza, Custom Car Alarms, R Rydes, Umnitza, DPE, CarNutzCustoms