A V8 BMW wagon is a rare enough find as it is, leave alone in this condition
By Matt Bird / Thursday, October 8, 2020
What a shame it was to not have been able to include a BMW in last week's rundown on the best secondhand wagons out there. It felt sacrilegious almost, what with so many good Tourings in the back catalogue. Bring together six silky-smooth cylinders, a split tailgate (you'll never know how you lived without one), suave good looks (usually) and driver-pleasing handling and it's easy to see why the wagons have so many fans.
But when talking about best buys, it's a struggle to recommend a BMW, usually, over the obvious rivals. Primarily that's because M Tourings happen as often as a papal conclave; it's also because, when they do, they're not always best suited to fast estate duties. Desperately cool though an E34 and E61 M5 Touring are, there's a reason why Mercedes and Audi have used either forced induction of enormous capacity for their similar vehicles over the years: torque. That's what you need to lug people and things around and the two M5s, while not exactly torque light, weren't blessed with bountiful pulling power. They're icons, no doubt, though perhaps not for all the right reasons.
Anyway, that all looks set to be remedied very soon with the arrival of an M3 Touring – yes, that car again. With a twin-turbocharged straight-six, M xDrive and the very good 3 Series Touring as a base, hopes are running high. Despite you-know-what. But with an M3 likely to cost £65,000, an estate isn't going to be less than £70,000, and that's a lot of money. So what if you're after a fast, smart looking, torquey BMW Touring for less than that?
Voila, the 550i Touring. Looks cool, doesn't it? Despite the contemporary consternation around the Bangle 5 Series, it seems to be ageing pretty well – M Sport Tourings like this one in particular. Certainly it looks a good deal more modern than an A6 or E-Class of the time. And it comes, of course, with the perennial appeal of a big V8 up front.
Though the N62 was in production for nearly a decade and deemed good enough for Morgan to use until just last year (meaning it was made from 2001-2019), the 550is were never hugely popular in period. Why would they be? A 535d would deliver most of the performance for less outlay, and the M5 existed for those wishing to go truly berserk. A 550 carried neither M kudos nor diesel affordability, a true curio of the range.
Now, however, any 5 Series with a V8 – especially an estate – seems mighty appealing. Remember what we said about torque? A 550i had 130 hp less than a V10 M5, but was just 23lb ft down on torque, making it far more suited to a Touring. A conventional automatic gearbox was a better fit, too, than the racy SMG. Then, as now, it looks like quite the family bus for those willing to take on the maintenance costs of a V8.
This one is especially nice, having covered just 26,000 miles in 13 years. Its history is odd – being EU supplied then sold new in Japan – but it's right-hand drive, stuffed to the gunwales with equipment and seemingly in pristine condition. Hence the £15k asking price, which will look a lot to those who only see before them a 5 Series from the 2000s. Especially when actual M5s, albeit saloons, also cost that much. However, as the old adage goes, find another one…
Well, in this instance, we can. Yep, two of those incredibly rare V8 5 Series estates on offer at the same time. This one is considerably more used – having covered almost another 100,000 miles – although it still presents pretty nicely. There's much to be encouraged by in the advert, too, including just the two owners over 14 years. A snip, surely, at £8,990.
So, what are you waiting for? Perhaps an E61 550i isn't the very best fast estate out there at the money, but it's also not far off. It's never going to be a cheap car to run, sure; crucially, though, the V8 Touring looks like it'll be an immensely satisfying one. And what price do you put on that?
SPECIFICATION – BMW 550I TOURING
See the original advert here
See the advert for the silver car here
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