Recently I had the chance to catch up with one of the M5 Video Guide customers on the east coast of the USA and learn more about his recently purchased e39 m5 in addition to his interesting work at the Pentagon with the United States Government.
The text below is a transcript of the interview which took place over the Christmas holidays when Chris was kind enough to share some of his time to speak with me.
Brooks: Hey Chris – thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Very much appreciated!
- Chris: No sweat Brooks, my pleasure!
Brooks: So you are the new owner of a 2002 E39 M5 with Oxford Green and Caramel interior – how are you liking the car so far?
- Chris: Absolutely hate it – wish I’d bought that mint ’87’ Geo Metro I had my eyes on, but plans change (what with the economy and all) – Kidding of course! Love the car – it’s as close to perfect as any I’ve ever owned.
Brooks: Tell us the story about where you found the car!
- Chris: Fairly straightforward – did a web search and looked at quite a few online as well as at a couple local dealers. I was looking for about 5 months before I came across this particular one – I believe I found it at AutoTrader.com.
Brooks: Was this a color combo that “found you”, or is this a color that you’ve wanted for a while?
- Chris: Actually had the LeMans Blue/Caramel combo in mind as I was looking but am very glad that I stumbled across the Oxford Green – it doesn’t “jump” out at you as much – little more low-key than the Blue – I’m not big on standin out – would rather ease up on folks than having them see me coming. Gotta confess though that I am somewhat partial to this color – I have a ’71’ Vette Roadster in this combo (Chevy calls it Brands Hatch Green/Dark Saddle) that I’ve owned for over 27 years.
Brooks: What is the story behind your new car? How many owners/ mileage, etc.?
- Chris: I’m the third owner – the original owner is a doctor in Bronxville, NY – he ordered it new as a lease – he kept it for the term of the lease and then decided to down-grade to a Porche – I’m guessin the M5 was too much muscle? Anyhow, he mentioned to his neighbor (who had always liked the car) that he was trading it back in to the dealer and so the three of them made a deal ahead of time to turn it in, run it through the BMW CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) program and then sell it back to the neighbor. He then owned it for about three years only driving it weekends back and forth to his vacation home on Long Island shore.
- When I purchased it in October of this year it had just over 50,000 miles on it. I got kinda lucky getting it actually – it had been advertised for about a week before I saw it but the weather had been lousy and only one guy had actually seen the car in person, but he didn’t have the cash so it was still available BUT the weather had now cleared and the seller had a couple local guys coming over shortly to see it, so I immediately made reservations (one-way) on Amtrak from DC to NY and had a bank check cut for the seller’s bottom line and then fired off an email letting him know I was on my way with the dough and could he give me directions to his house? – I guess he realized I was serious so he met me at the train station and gave me a ride to his house to check out the car.
- I couldn’t believe how pristine it was and further that no-one had snagged it yet – so I bought it and then stuck a temp tag on it and drove back to DC that night – opened up the sunroof and blasted my IPOD (via “IceLink”) the whole way down the Jersey Pike – occasionaly hitting 120 or so – and was hooked from that point. Only complaint I had was that the female GPS voice kept telling me how far I had to go/when to turn/when I was allowed to hit the rest-room, etc., etc. Bad enough she sounded just like an ex-girlfriend, but even worse she kept interupting the tunes each time she felt the need to….”emote.” (I eventually figured out how to shut her up…..err, “disable,” that particular function.
Brooks: Have you ever owned BMW before? Any reservations owning the BMW brand?
- Chris: Yes, I owned a 2001 540i for a couple years – only reservations were octane and fuel prices! Really liked the 540 – it was dark blue w/tan interior and a 6-speed as well. Only thing I didn’t appreciate was having to put a new clutch in after only owning it for 3,000 miles – I’m thinking one of the prior owners was a hack with a stick – or had a thing for pulling holeshots – which is actually very tempting with these cars!
Brooks: Had you ever driven an M5 before and what were your impressions of the car once you had a chance to REALLY drive it?
- Chris: Never even heard of an M5 let alone own one until recently. Just knew that I really liked the 540 and that adding steroids might be fun. But as I mentioned previously, absolutely love this car – it is just a lot of fun to be able to cruise in complete comfort all the while knowing that you can blow away more or less anything else on the highway. And the best part is that most folks have no idea what the car is – it looks just like a “pedestrian” albeit very classy European sedan – especially in a low-key color like this AND with the rear-spoiler “delete” option. I guess it’s analogous to the old “speak softly and carry a big stick” schtick? (no pun intended)
Brooks: Do you have any plans for modifications? Is there anything that you’d like to change on the car?
- Chris: Being a former musclecar junkie (and current bike racer (Ducati)) I’ll be honest, it would be very tempting to upgrade/improve the exhaust, add Stage 1 software and possibly a short throw shift-kit – BUT having bought and sold classic cars over the years I know that I very much appreciate finding a totally original car on the market, so I think I am going to resist the temptation and keep it as close to stock as possible – and honestly, the car performs magnificently as-is from the factory so I don’t really have any complaints. May upgrade the speakers though.
Brooks: I know that recently you took a trip up from Washington, DC where you live, to Boston, MA for Thanksgiving, how was that?
- Chris: Well, I improved my best trip time of 7 hours 10 minutes by almost an hour so I think that is pretty much the bottom line. Of course having an EZ-Pass helps and traffic was fairly light – but it really is the consumate highway car – the Jersey Pike is dull enough without having to drive a Ford Taurus!
Brooks: You are also a Veteran of Iraq – can you share with us what you did over there?
- Chris: Sure, I was the military chief for a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kirkuk (about 150 miles due north of Baghdad) These have been described as being like the “the Peace Corps with guns” which actually isn’t all that far off the mark. But what we really did was teach/train/mentor/assist the Iraqis in rebuilding/developing: Governance; Rule of Law; Security/; Reconstruction; and Economic Development. I had served in Baghdad as well but had the very good fortune to be sent north to Kirkuk (Ah-Tamin province) where it was permissive enough to get off the FOB (Forward Operating Base) pretty much every day and work with the Iraquis outside the wire.
- The Kurdish people were great – very pragmatic yet optimistic about acheiving a better life – the Arabs (Sunni) were a bit more reticent – a lot of them still pissed off having been knocked out of the drivers seat when Sadaam was deposed – the Turkmen were pretty much bottom-line orientated and comprised a large percentage of the business community – the Assaryian (Christian) folks were a small minority and just wanted a fair shake. Very interesting year and a half – and I can honestly say that they were/are well on the way to squaring their country away (at least in the North) after many years of less than benign neglect under Sadaam.
Brooks: And today you work at the Pentagon, can you tell us what you do there?
- Chris: Work on the Army Staff for the G-8 currently focused on the QDR (Quadrennial Defense Review (a 20-year strategic outlook that Congress has mandated DoD (Dept of Defense) conduct every 4 years)) I know, I know, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Brooks: Do people ever ask you about that unique license plate you’re sporting on your Beast? What’s the story behind the word “Flitzr”?
- Chris: German friend of mine suggested it – it means “fast car” in German (“Schnell” was taken)
Brooks: The east coast of the USA has so many beautiful places to see by road – are there any road trips planned?
- Chris: Nothing really specific yet – I bought the car mainly for the trip between DC and Boston which I do fairly often (have family in Massachusetts) but I’m game for anything longer – maybe Arizona to visit cousins next – especially in light of recent events though (i.e. the “CrotchBomber”), I have absolutely NO desire to stand in airport security lines for hours waitin on a flight!
Brooks: Do you plan to take your m5 to the dealer or to an independent shop? What’s your philosophy on that point?
- Chris: I’m actually pretty anal about doing as much maintenance as I can myself – BUT as far as anything involving more than I can handle, I plan on taking it to my local independent guy – Bill Shook, owner of “Kraftwagen” in Arlington, VA – Bill has been racing/instructing/workin on BMWs for over 30 years and he is absolutey outstanding. My philosophy is pretty much in line with Bill’s – that is: “Preventative” maintenance is the key.
- And having flown helicopters fifteen years for the Army, I can attest to its importance – the idea is to get out in front of as many issues as you can BEFORE they become a must-repair. Case in point is the “new?” BMW policy of “lifetime” fill on the tranny, differential, etc., I think this is ludicrous – you gotta flush and change at some point (admittedly BMW recommends a flush/change after initial break-in) if you expect to get any kind of extended service life from your vehicle. Bill recommends every 50,000 miles for these components – as well as the occasional engine coolant flush/change. Could not agree more.
Brooks: Of all the cars out there, can you share how you came to decide upon the E39 M5?
- Chris: Just my opinion, but I think it’s one of the classiest looking sedan’s on the market – bar none – and to para-phrase one of the articles on your video-guide website, the “Dame Edna” styling of the new E60 series does absolutely nothing for me.
Brooks: You recently purchased the M5 Video Guide, what value did you gain from it?
- Chris: Excellent investment! To be honest, I initially thought the price was a bit high – but have absolutely no qualms now that I purchased it. Found a bunch of stuff in it about the car that I didn’t know – and things that the owner’s manual really doesn’t lay out too well. And the detailing tips were great – I love the way you dry the car off! That should actually go a long way toward preventing rust in those parts the car is prone toward as well.
- I also like the fact that you have updated it – at least since I purchased it, and that you are considering adding an additional “official” monthly update feature – I for one would be interested in that.
Overall I’d say if any E39 M5 owners, or potential owners, are interested in learning more about the car, and its capabilities, they would be well served to purchase the video – and the “resource” section is great – I have checked out a few of the links and they’ve got some great products and accessories for the car.
Brooks: Thanks for your time Chris and congratulations on your beautiful M5!
- Chris: My pleasure Brooks – hopefully see you on the road one of these days!