• The Cool and Sad History Of The BMW 5 Series E60

Here’s some interesting facts you didn’t know about the fifth-generation BMW 5 Series

LISTEN 03:19

Produced from 2003 to 2010, the fifth-generation BMW 5 Series is almost a classic now, mostly because it spawned the only M5 model with a V-10 engine, as well as one of only two station wagon M5 up until now. But upon its release in 2003, the E60 5 Series was actually hated by many BMW purists, who didn’t like the company’s new design direction.

Just like the E65-gen 7 Series launched in 2001, the fifth-gen 5 Series saw a big departure from traditional BMW styling, employing the then-new "flame surfacing" design. Chris Bangle is usually credited with the exterior styling of these cars (the rear end of the 7 Series was nicknamed "Bangle Butt"), but they were designed by someone else. And the story of the E60 5 Series is touching to say the least.

The Cool and Sad History Of The BMW 5 Series E60
- image 125801

Although Chris Bangle was in charge of BMW’s styling division back then, the 5 Series was actually penned by Boyke Boyer and the final design was developed by Davide Arcangeli. Only 28 years old at the time, Davide joined BMW from Pininfarina, where he designed the stylish Peugeot 406 Coupe.

Arcangeli’s design for the E60 was almost rejected by BMW, mostly because it couldn’t be translated into a clay model due to its complex shapes. We could say that the E60 we know today almost didn’t make it into production. But after weeks of hard work, Arcangeli and his team finished the scale model and BMW agreed to put it into production.

The fifth-gen 5 Series was approved in 2000. But Davide didn’t get to see his 5 Series come to life. He was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after BMW approved the sedan’s design and died by the end of 2000. The E60-gen 5 Series went into production until three years later, in 2003.

The Cool and Sad History Of The BMW 5 Series E60
- image 167371

While controversial at first, the E60 5 Series became a popular version of the midsize sedan. Its 50-50 weight distribution made it a comfortable yet dynamic car, while state-of-the-art tech like head-up display, adaptive steering, and night vision made it one of the most advanced cars on the road.

The E60 5 Series was available with a range of gasoline and diesel engines, mostly inline-four and inline-six units. But BMW also offered a 4.4-liter V-8 in the 540i and 550i models. But by far the most daring move was to drop a 5.0-liter V-10 in the M5.

The naturally-aspirated S85 was not only unrelated to a regular production BMW engine, but it was also inspired by the company’s previous involvement into Formula One. Unique to this car, the V-10 generated an impressive 500 horsepower 384 pound-feet of torque and redlined at 8,250 rpm. The same engine was offered in the M5 Wagon, the only long-roofed version of the high-performance midsize produced to date except for the short-lived E34 version (1992-1995).

Find out more interesting details about the E60 5 Series in the video below.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

2008 BMW 5-Series

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: