I’m wondering how many more beatings this guy has to take before he gets the message. He’s in an E90 M3, probably modified based on the sound of its exhaust and the fact that he’s kept up, to a point. He’s been riding my backside like a subway groper at rush hour, and, when space allows, I drop it down to Fourth, flatten the pedal and move one lane over so he doesn’t benefit from a tow. He stays close until the end of Fourth gear. That’s when the gap widens, when he should accept the facts, but he keeps coming back for more.
I’m on the stretch of Interstate 5 just north of Los Angeles, the plateau near the Los Angeles/San Joaquin Valley county border just south of the steep descent of the Grapevine. Even though it’s a three- to four-lane interstate, it can be both a challenge and thrill because there are stretches where you can see a mile or so ahead and scan for CHPs as you play the cat-and-mouse game. The trouble usually lurks on the downside of a crest or the blind side of a long sweeper, at least that’s how I got my last speeding ticket.
I’m wondering if this supercharged E39 M5 that I’m test-driving has license plates that read “race me” because it seems that anyone with an aftermarket exhaust, sport springs and wide tires wants to see how they compare. There are the ricers, who are often louder than they are fast, and the retro muscle cars like Challengers and Camaros. They’ll either ride your bumper or get alongside you and then floor it to surge ahead. I ignored most of them simply because it’s not worth the effort or the risk, but others, like the driver of the M3, needed to be taught where they sit in the pecking order.
So I give him one last chance. This time I let him get the jump and take the lead. And again, as the needle nudges the redline in Fourth and the ESS Tuning supercharger system crams as much air as it can into the combustion chambers, it’s clear which car has the bigger lungs and the longer legs.
Into Fifth and I’m ahead again, I let him catch up once more. Now we’re at those speeds when the asphalt, which once seemed relatively smooth and flat, is throwing so many small bumps at the KW Variant 3 coilovers, Radenergie three-piece wheels (9x19 front, 10.5x19 rear) and Yokohama Advan Sport tires (245/30-19 front, 285/25-19 rear) that they’re having a hard time keeping up and causing the car to jiggle and feel a little nervous. Nonetheless, duty calls and there’s one long stretch of highway before the road crests and descends.
The soundtrack is dominated by the Supersprint headers feeding into a Kelleners race exhaust. It’s a cacophony of V8 boom, open-throttle blaaaat and a sharp crackle between shifts. I can see the M3 getting smaller in the mirrors as Fifth gear is about to play out. Into Sixth and then let up because it’s beyond ridiculous how fast we’re going. Point proven. I feel like the cat that bats around a half-dead mouse just for sadistic kicks.
And yet he comes back and I run with him until just before the highway drops down, where I jam on the Brembo GT eight-piston calipers and trail the brakes onto the exit ramp. Solid and stable, the car brushed off triple-digit speeds and took the off-ramp like it was pulling into a driveway.
That final crest before I pulled off is where I got my last ticket and, after the drop down the hill, the M3 driver will see the signs for the CHP station if he didn’t get nabbed after cresting the hill.
This 2000 E39 M5 belongs to Chris Naguit, founder of the BMW owners club MFest and organizer of their annual tire-shredding orgies in Las Vegas. You could say Naguit is obsessive-compulsive when it comes to customizing his cars, or you can say he’s indecisive or obsessively indecisive because this M5 has ridden on seven different sets of wheels, worn four different body kits and received three different interior makeovers and two different supercharger systems since he bought it in 2003.
You can tell Naguit wants to rock it like no one else has from the selection of his parts. The Hamann Full Competition body kit is one of a handful in the U.S. and the Exotics Tuning rear diffuser is just as rare. The bronzed anodized lips on the Radenergie wheels are a unique touch and, in a nod to JDM methods, they’re mounted to the Brembo discs via Macht Schnell wheel studs. Both the headlights and taillights are from the European M5.
Inside is an interior by Top Stitch Upholstery of South El Monte, Calif., that features a grid pattern on the suede and leather seats and carbon dash inserts featuring extra large weave patterns. The steering wheel and seatbacks also get the large weave carbon treatment. The Hamann pedals and hand brake also get the bronze anodized treatment.
Underneath the Vorsteiner full carbon and custom Kevlar hood sits an ESS Tuning VT550 Stage 2 supercharger system. Prior to that, Naguit was running a Dinan supercharger system but, as is his MO, since everyone seemed to be running the Dinan system, he went with ESS’s solution. The system is based around a Vortech V3 Si compressor, larger injectors, ESS software, casted supercharger intake system and assorted brackets, belts and mounts. As the name suggests, it’s good for 542 hp at 6 psi and 457 lb-ft of torque.
The naturally aspirated 4.9-liter was rarely short of torque and the ESS supercharger only adds to the effect by coming on early in the rev band and producing power all the way to redline. Throttle response feels instant thanks to a 3.45:1 Dinan differential. The quicker response and the taut ride from the KW Variant 3 suspension make the car feel lighter, smaller and more tossable. After some sharp turn-in, understeer comes into play late in the corners, the Yokohama’s holding on tenaciously. Feed in the right amount of throttle and you can settle into a neutral attitude. Over-cook the exit and the rear tires will squeal their disapproval and send the tail a waggin’.
Having owned and modified several other Bimmers in addition to this E39, Naguit is always on the mission to out-mod the next guy or bring something new to the table. We’ve been watching his build of an E60 M5 and it will be a beast to remember. Stay tuned.
2000 BMW E39 M5
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
4.9-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. ESS Tuning supercharger (VT550), Supersprint headers, Kelleners race exhaust
Six-speed manual. Dinan 3.45:1 differential
Brembo GT eight-piston calipers, 405mm two-piece rotors (f); four-piston calipers, 345mm 2-piece rotors (r)
Wheels and Tires
Radenergie R10 9x19 (f), 10.5x19 (r);
Yokohama Advan Sport 245/30 (f), 285/25 (r)
Peak Power: 542 hp
Peak Torque: 457 lb-ft