M5 this, M5 that. With the hype surrounding the latest M-powered 5 Series, you'd think it was the only 5 on the planet. Those of us who live on Earth know differently; BMW's 5 fills out the ranks of European cars on US roads.
After a lukewarm reception from the automotive press and the broader public, the re-tooled 5 Series seems to have gained the marketing fervor of the previous car and then some. It took a while for the new look to grow on me, but it has, and I can honestly say I think it's now one of the best-looking sedans on the market.
SoCal residents Bing Lee and Timothy Gunawan agree. Each drives a white E60 5 Series, Gunawan a 2005 545i and Lee a late-model '07 550i. To make sure they stand out from the masses of 5 Series mom-cars and unimpressive commuting hacks, the cars were modified at the hands and wrenches of Eurorev.com, an outfit based in Gardena, California, (where Gunawan is employed, incidentally).
Both the 545i and 550i run with V8 power, the 545 with a 4.4-liter 32-valve unit and the 550i with a similar plant displacing 0.4 more liters of juice. Probably the most notable modification on each was the addition of true dual-exit exhaust systems. This is a bit of a trick, since the 545 and 550 use the standard E60 undercarriage designed for a single exhaust tract. The M5, which comes with dual exhaust directly from the factory, incorporates a completely different undercarriage design in order to accommodate the system.
Gunawan owns the 545; he's had a few project cars in the past, beginning with Japanese makes and graduating first to an E36 coupe, then an E46 sedan. The E36 and E46 have been modified using complete packages from Hamann and RD Sport, respectively. For this 5, Gunawan decided to make the project mods an amalgam of aftermarket parts to better represent Eurorev.com as a company instead of a single aftermarket source.
Lee's 550 is dressed in similar modifications-you'd be hard pressed to tell the two apart. Both are fitted with Eisenmann M5 'race' exhausts (altered to accommodate the standard E60 undercarriage). Both cars' engine management systems have been enhanced by custom Eurorev ECU software. Gunawan's 545 has seen a few additional hard performance parts installed: K&N air filter, Dinan throttle body, RD Sport pulleys. He estimates power output to be in the 345 to 350-hp range (measuring at the crank).
To further play up the M5 aesthetic, both cars are dressed in M Technik aero kit enhancements: front bumper, rear diffuser, skirts. Each also sports snarky Eurorev LED 'puddle lights' that illuminate the ground at either side of the car.
Both ride on new wheels, the 545 on 20-inch Agio MSH alloys, the 550 on 20-inch Agio TSSs. Each set of rims is strung with Toyo T1R rubber, sized a beefy 245/35 up front and 285/30 in back. Both cars were, naturally, dropped over these new wheels with fresh suspension bits: the 545 with Bilstein coilovers, the 550 with hardware sourced from H&R.
Gunawan also added a few select M Technik bits to the 545's interior as well, like M5 pedals and, most intriguingly, an M5 iDrive console. That's what he says, anyway. We're not sure how he did it, why or what was involved. And frankly, since it's iDrive, we don't want to know. The factory stereo has also been subject to a Dynaudio speaker component upgrade, so Gunawan can rock out ever harder as he gets his cruise on.
Southern California is undoubtedly the land of automotive one-upmanship. It takes creativity and resolve to stand out; Gunawan and Lee have definitely made their marks. Still, both cars are works in progress. Each owner has plans for more cosmetic mods and eventual supercharger conversions. When they are finally finished, M5-hunting season may have officially opened.