The E39 M5 Touring Which BMW Didn’t Get To Keep

I applaud those who choose to build a car as though it were a factory offering.

Due to safety regulations, and market demands manufacturers are forced to operate within fairly rigid boxes. As consumers, however, we’re completely free to color outside the lines and many of use choose to do exactly that when we modify our own vehicles.

Adhering to a factory like rule set is an incredible challenge, but for all the extra hoops and effort we go through, the end result is usually worth it.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5213

After all, these cars usually wind up as the absolute best combination of available factory drivetrains, interior options and exterior styling.

Picking Up Where BMW Left Off
Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5326

When it comes to moving a vehicle from blue sky concept to production model, manufacturers have a bit of a tough go. Bottom lines are a tricky thing, and they have a huge impact on the cars we see released.

Exotic, and specialty brands aside, cars released by most mainstream manufactures need to have widespread appeal. Widespread appeal leads to compromises, but, it keeps the lights on.

Niche appeal for a mass production vehicle is rarely a good thing. If bean counters don’t see at least a break even point on the horizon the likelihood of a car existing is quite slim. Regardless of how impressive an idea might seem on paper.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5362

Performance wagons have niche appeal.

As much as we  want a vehicle that can shuttle goods (people or otherwise) to their destination, while being able to make the long way home in fact the short way home, the general public couldn’t be bothered.

There’s a reason the number of CUV blobs on North American roads is growing at an alarming rate. They are practical, safe and economical.

They’re also quite boring.

Who Doesn’t Want To Eat Their Cake Anyway?
Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5400

Tim Alfaro is the type who wants to have his cake, as well as eat it. Tim has had an interest in cars as far back as he can remember. With a hint of embarrassment in his voice he explained that his younger years bore a significant resemblance to the original Fast and The Furious.

His older cousin, who could have been Hector, introduced him into import drag racing and the siren song of turbocharged engines sealed the deal. In an effort to stop him from getting an excessively fast first car, his parents bought him a BMW 318 in the hopes the under-powered four cylinder would quell some of his desire for speed.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5321

To a point, their plan worked. Initially the car was slower than any of the vehicles he had planned to purchase, but that problem was quickly rectified by a hefty shot of nitrous, Harry be damned.

Scooting around town, Tim took a liking to the BMW roundel and the driving experience that came with it. By his graduation year, his tastes had grown beyond the 3 series and the E39 M5 was the car he had to have.

Of course, back then it was roughly an $80,000 USD car, so not exactly something a recent graduate could purchase immediately.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5404

Ever determined, Tim knew he would eventually own one and after a six year search Tim got his first E39 M5 in 2010.

Milk Wagon
Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5285

Though in the eyes of enthusiasts they certainly should have, BMW never released an M series version of their E39 5 series wagon. A factory E39 M5 Touring would have been nice, but BMW only officially built one, one they chose to selfishly keep for themselves.

When life – read two kids and a wife – necessitated the need for more room, Tim didn’t want to compromise his M5.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5391

So he did the only logical thing; he hatched a plan to build a longer, roomier version of his Alpine white on black sedan. To make his vision reality, Tim required three things; two donor cars and some friends fanatical enough to help him pull the whole thing off.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5379

Tim found his base chassis as a running and driving car located in Michigan and owned by a Roush Racing technician. The motor was sourced from an M5 that had been in an irrecoverable accident.

The motor had a few more kilometers than the chassis, so Tim drove the stock wagon until the two matched. While strategically wracking up the kilometers he took to the internet to enlist some help. Tim’s a fairly capable on his own, but this conversion would be more complex than anything he’d done prior.

A member and admin of multiple E39 M5 online resources, Tim mentioned his idea in a local Facebook group. A few minutes later he received a direct message that read; “Hey, if you’re serious I can help.”

The sender, Scott Johnson had the best possible business card for his services, the M7 that BMW never built. Scott introduced Tim to Joel Ryan, another BMW enthusiast with an eye for minute details, and since the three have been performing OEM style conversions ever since under the name Studio62.

The A-Team assembled, their plan required a rust free chassis, which the Michigan car was far from. Detroit winters did the car absolutely no favors and a significant amount of time was spent either grinding or cutting away rust.

Once satisfied the rust wasn’t going to return, patch panels were welded in and the floor was modified to accommodate a factory style passenger exhaust. Tracing the Magnaflow muffled exhaust system to the front of the car, Tim and crew installed an S62 with factory like precision.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5420

Scott, the wiring genius of Studio62, managed to wire up Tim’s car without the use of the entire sedan chassis harness. Instead Tim’s original touring harness integrates with the E39 M5 engine harness. Visually not a single wire looks out of place something Scott, Joell, and Tim are all incredibly proud of.

The S62 was quite an upgrade from the factory straight-six M54 5 series wagons come with, but eventually the desire for more took over. Several years removed from his nitrous days, Tim opted to add some belt driven power by way of an ESS VT-1560 supercharger.

Following the supercharger, ,were Shafro short velocity stacks, and custom splatter painted intakes with a TRE billet MAF housings.

Dressed To Kill
Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5233

To look the part of a factory M5, Tim added an OE E39 M5 front bumper fit with Slimmbones splitters. In the rear, he selected an OE MSport rear bumper with an Exotics Tuning rear diffuser.

Lighting consists of modified OEM headlights featuring quad projectors, Orion V4 LED angel eyes and euro lenses. Rounding out the visual package are M5 door guards and M5 side mirrors. All original equipment, naturally.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5362

Inside, the interior is as much factory M series as possible, save for a few extra bits to monitor the forced induction power plant. Starting with the seats Tim added E39 M5 Black Sport front seats, and custom rear seats trimmed out with black sedan leather.

Between the newly added M series thrones, is an a F10 weighted and illuminated shift knob that’s mounted to an E60 short shifter which itself is connected to an E39 M5 six-speed manual Getrag 420G transmission.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5345

A face-lifted E39 M5 gauge cluster sits behind – you guessed it – an original E39 M5 steering wheel. Below the center HVAC vent is a windows tablet that displays AFR and diagnostic information via the OBD-II port. This information is supplemental to that provided by a custom mounted Innovate Motorsports SCG-1 AFR/Boost gauge.

An E39 M5 OE entertainment and audio system provides the in-car soundtrack, while a Stealth One Integrated V1 Radar system, and custom front and rear security camera system keep the car monitored at all times.

Finally, an original M sport button sits in the factory location, just where it would if this car had an official M5 vin.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5397

Underpinning the car is an appropriate M5 front subframe and steering box. CKS front coilovers are paired with 10k Swift springs and adjustable camber plates in the front, while the self-levelling suspension system has been deleted in the rear and replaced with Koni adjustable sport shocks with 12k Swift springs mounted in Einhorn Industries adjustable perches.

A Dinan E39 M5 sway bar has been added with Powerflex sway bar bushings, and Einhorn Industries comes through again with solid front differential bushes and subframe reinforcements.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5375

Brakes are factory M5, and the wheels are again factory pieces; 18×9.5-inch Style 65s painted dark silver chrome. They’re wrapped in Michelin Pilot AS3+ 275/35/18 rubber all around.

Giving Back
Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5233

In 2016, Tim’s car was one of only a handful of M5 converted tourings. A big fan of the camaraderie among M5 owners, Tim has done what he can to help others complete the swap as well, if they’re up to the challenge. If they’re not, the doors of Studio62 are open to offer turn key conversions.

The passion Tim, Scott, and Ryan have for keeping BMWs on the road, no matter what the running gear, keeps the shop in operation despite all three having full time jobs.

Unlike some of the more recent features I’ve written, Tim has absolutely no intentions of getting rid of his ‘ M5′ wagon anytime soon. The driving experience the car provides simply doesn’t get old, but what keeps him behind the wheel of a BMW is the community.

Tim's E39 M5 Wagon - Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Seattle-5303

Tim has seen the M5 community step up for one another time and time again, often going above and beyond what’s required for people who often only know each other virtually.

From technical help, roadside assistance, or just moral support Tim insists that the M5 community is consistently selfless. In a time where  it’s cool to hate, it’s great to know mutual respect and support lives among those who share a love of the M5 badge.

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom

Photography by Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt



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Nice work! That custom splatter looks like it could have been an interior cloth option on a BMW in the mid-90s.


Meh, a lot of hype over a stanced wagon. I like the community thing,BMW, and ,wagons... But if you have the kids in the car make the thing handle before you give it more power, and give it the ricer stance treatment


@ jere m,
I think people are getting triggered over you stance/ricer comment may be due to definition. My knee-jerk reaction is the same as many others to your comment, but after reading some of your other comments I think I understand your point a bit better.

"Stance" usually refers not just to lowering car for looks, but includes stretched tires, low offset wheels, excessive camber; as well the attempt to either just tuck the wheel itself under the fender edge or have the fender edge sit in the small gap between the wheel lip and stretched tire. And the attempt to realize this form/look results in the "stance scene"

Lowering for looks, doesn't have to include all the above mentioned elements of "stance", and can usually be done in a way that isn't detrimental to the safety of the vehicle. For example a set of H&R lowering springs + adjustable Koni shocks + bushings/swaybars is a basic and valid way to lower a car so it looks cooler, while not being a detriment to the vehicles safety. It can also be a budget setup for autocross/track etc.

I think the mentioned wheels+tires+suspension setup of the e39 wagon doesn't point to being "Stance" and will be able to handle daily duties fairly easily without compromising safety. His tires at least match the OEM 275 rear width of a stock m5 and increased the front from the stock 245 m5 spec to 275. I don't disagree that you might be able to argue for a "better"/more expensive coil-over set (Lets not get into "true" coil-overs). But the mention of rated 10k and 12k swift springs also implies that he separately ordered those springs to match his needs and with the adjustable shocks he has the ability to match the shocks to the springs. Basically: I doubt the safety of the vehicle would be significantly compromised.


No herrafrush here! Car is not low at all and is corner balanced. The suspension was built for handling with the family and groceries in mind. The car along with myself, family weights, approximate weight of groceries were involved in deciding the alignment and suspension specifications. Feel free to ask any more questions. I assure you the car was built to handle and last. It has made many trips from Seattle to LA for Bimmerfest the past few years with ZERO issue and will continue to do so for the future.


This wagon isn't stanced. It's clear you don't know what that means. Perhaps you should take a deep breath sip your coffee and relax before you start your day looking like a complete clown.


Your definition of rice and stanced my differ from mine, I've explained mine what's yours exactly , before you turn up to be the clown?


It's lowered on oem wheels with camber in factory spec?

Sorry not sure where such pointed suspension criticism can be directed with this build.


One must take into effect travel in suspension when lowering a car, over how flush the tires look in the fender Wells. I have been wrong before but that looks to me to be an issue with this car... Also when coilovers get used on just one end of the car also a red flag of looks over handling.


OEM wheels with OEM spec tires makes it a stanced car to you? Do you even modify your cars?


Lower for "looks" makes, makes a car a "stanced" car, especially with the great selection of BMWs, oem wheels. I modify, and do all my own repairs on all of my cars, the one I track and the other one I drive my kids in.

Do you know what suspension travel means?

Michael Maciagiewicz

There’s no stance here. I track the m5 wagon and coil overs are meat for function over form. Not really meant for looks but for handling. Coilovers are used on every Racecar I know and service and the secondary comes the looks. Someone here is severely misguided on the true function of coilovers. Wagon posted is my black M5 wagon built many years ago and I may let it go this year


Most bmw coilovers sets are in fact not true coilovers front and rear because of the bmw suspension design. The last bmw I worked on was an e30 but the rear shock mount couldn't have safely supported a real coilover in the truest sense.

Tim has used a spring, with an adjustable perch in the rear which is what most "coilover" solutions for a bmw and other chassis are.


Interesting, is the car corner weighted or just lowered for looks? What spring rates did he choose? (Not trying to see what's going on here)


(glitchy phone keyboard there) should have said "not trying to start a feud, just trying to see what's going on here"


Spring rates are 12k Swift Springs in front on CKS Suspension coilovers with camber plates, 10K Swift Springs on adjustable spring perches in the rear with Koni Adjustable Sport Shocks. E30 Tourings do not have a McPherson strut design as the shock and springs are separate. This car is corner balanced and ready for the track at any time. No expense was spared.


If BMW actually built that, it would have been the best daily driver ever


BMW built (1) pre-facelift TiAG prototype that sits at the Welt today

Michael Maciagiewicz

It is true there’s only a handful of these wagons “touring” if your Bmw Purist. Here’s another


uh, im so confused as to how any could think this is stanced. lol anyways, WOW. want!!!


I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SEE THE DAY AN E39 M5 SPEC WAGON ON SPEEDHUNTERS. i need a new pair of pants, or two. This is how an E39 m5 wagon should've been built. I want to be able to build myself an M5 spec wagon before I die, period.


Still reppin' the Hokies on the license plate frame. Nice!


#GOHOKIES Hokie for Life!


I saw this car in person at RTC and it is an incredible build. Attention to detail is on point


But wouldn't BMW spec staggered rims on their E39 M5 Touring as all M cars?


Many E39 M5 owners put the rear wheels on the front to improve handling and ability to rotate tires.

Jesse Black Beetle

This is one of my dream BMW cars. Cheers!
I put an e39 m5 bumper on my car to remind myself in later life to aquire a wagon and do'er good.
Super awesome


dude, your tabs are expired.




Please feature the E39 M5! I own one and it's the best BMW ever made.


Nice build!!!! Loving these old school bmers more and more.
One of the tuffest wagons out atm is the Australian only HSV CLUBSPORT WAGON with a LSA engine, RWD, manual and 600hp it’s word class. Def on my next car radar, love the wagons


Can someone explain me why he did not improve the brakes whith some serious caliper ?


Brakes have been upgraded. I forgot to mention it though so blame me.

PBBrakes 356 8 Pot Front brake kit E39 M5 rear brakes


As an owner of a E46 330i wagon which has been reworked, this is lovely, it's the sports car you can enjoy, but also take the kids and dog along for the ride. Kudos to you sir for building a absolute gem of a 5 series. :)


More builds like this please! This car is sick. Even the M7 that BMW never built was great too. Thank You.