The second episode of my series, Life’s Too Short for Boring Cars, was released in July and was shared on BimmerLife last month. I can’t thank everyone enough for tuning in to watch! It was quite an adventure, so here’s the story behind the story, with a few behind-the-scenes details of both the M5 and the trip.

The 2001 BMW M5 used for this 1,000-mile trek is finished in Imola Red paint (my favorite color), over an Imola Red and Black Embossed leather interior. It is a car that I had originally purchased and sorted for a friend in 2021. We found it on Autotrader as an adult-owned higher-mileage example with proper maintenance history and some nice upgrades, including the beautiful and rare Technical Graphite interior trim. The latter accentuated the black and red leather perfectly, while adding an air of elegance to the luxury sports sedan’s interior.

Technical Graphite trim is suited perfectly to the M5’s red and black interior.

We originally did a round of sorting out issues and then sold it on to my friend, who called earlier this spring and asked if I wanted it back. Of course! It is a proper example and I’m always a sucker for an Imola Red M5. He had taken wonderful care of it, and I was glad to have it back at the hangar. I gave it a cursory once-over and started plotting the mission for the episode. When people call and ask for the one BMW that can do it all, one of the first examples that comes to mind is the E39 M5. It truly is a pinnacle of the evolution of that old-school M car recipe, in a car that is civilized enough to drive 1,000 miles through the middle of nowhere and make it back home. It was finally time to live by my own words and push off into the desert to prove it.

Filmmaker Jeremy Heslup of Valkyr Productions flew out for this epic outing. Once we plotted and finalized our route, we loaded up the car and headed west. The M5 checked out mechanically with a few issues I would eventually need to address, but if it stranded us we could find ourselves in a true survival situation. I brought the appropriate tools and gear, intending to mirror a trip I would usually do in my bush plane. Doing so in the M5 would prove the point that it truly can do everything.

The bush plane in the San Rafael Swell.

Our launching off point into the desert was Mack Mesa Airstrip, and the M5 got us there with only one check engine light, and the “trifecta” of DSC, ABS, and brake lights. The latter was due to an ailing wheel-speed sensor that was unhappy in the rain. After a night under the stars and a nearly-full moon, all of the lights had extinguished on their own and we continued west.

We found a campsite outside of Goblin Valley State Park, where the absurdity of dispersed camping out of an M5 suddenly seemed to make perfect sense. Maybe it was the red-rock backdrop, but with surgical precision on the drive up to our camp spot, the M5 made it unscathed. I did have to make a few “Austin Powers’ turns” while scouting camp spots on roads that appeared to be a little too rough. I should also note that when the trip was over, I treated the entire undercarriage to an extensive detailing to make sure that I was a good steward of the M5 during my tenure.

Jeremy Heslup and I hiking the slot.

Once we established our camp, we headed into the San Rafael Swell, home to dozens of slot canyons in an anticline thrust of rock spanning hundreds of millions of years. The beauty of the bush plane is that it can take you to strips in the “Swell” that are very far off the already sparsely-traveled path. The element of survival is real and will punish the unprepared or a bad decision. Preservation of the M5 prevented us from going that deep into the Swell, but the desert is a land of extremes, and answering those was a rewarding challenge.

Back at camp, we enjoyed a nice dinner as the blanket of darkness slowly enveloped us. The quiet of the desert was piercing and soul-cleansing, being only interrupted by the distant rumbles of late-spring thunderstorms echoing off the rock walls. The forms of the rocky goblins changed behind us as the hollow light of the moon filled in their shadows and painted the subtle cut lines of the M5 at their base. Sleep came easy, which was important as the adventure continued in the morning and we had a full day ahead.

The adventure continued in the morning.

I’ll let the film tell the rest, but I will say the M5 answered every challenge we threw at it with poise and grace, while never leaving the enthusiast in me wanting for more of that old-school BMW M car recipe. It never left us stranded, although both wheel speed sensors eventually died, taking the speedometer with them. I ended up doing another round of maintenance to remedy those and bring it up to spec, before finding a new home for it with a new friend who will tell the next chapter of its story.—Alex McCulloch

The M5 answered every challenge we put against it.



©2024 BimmerLife™

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?