The car community truly is a special one. After all, if it weren't for great friends who share the same passion as the owner of this 2002 BMW 525i, this E39 Touring might not look the way it does today. Eddie Elias is the owner of this slammed E39 wagon and he humbly credits his closest friends for motivating him to build the car after losing his first BMW, an E39 sedan.
"Friends have been and always will be a huge motivation for me," Eddie enthused. "I feel that without them, my plans for the car would never have changed, and it would have remained stock."
Eddie purchased his E39 Touring three years ago as a replacement for his first BMW, an E39 sedan, which was tragically taken from him after being totaled in front of his office. Eddie was fortunate enough to salvage most of the crucial components of the first build, like suspension, wheels and tires—he vowed to keep the original spirit of his E39 sedan alive thanks to his new purchase.
His motivation for purchasing an E39 wagon was twofold; the first being he could transfer all his parts over to the new vehicle with relative ease, and the second being he wanted to be different this time around with a wagon.
"You always see BMW coupes and sedans running around, but not many people think to modify a wagon," he divulged.
Eddie’s car club, Deadset, is a utopia for European wagon enthusiasts in the Southern California area. The club features slammed, OEM+ examples of BMWs, Volkswagens, and everything in between. Being the poster child for the club, Eddie’s E39 wagon sits low to the ground while tucking those crowd-pleasing wheels under its OEM fenders.
When Eddie purchased his E39 Touring, he never had any intention of modifying it. "My original plan was just to get a reliable replacement since I didn’t have a daily anymore," he explained.
"Modifying my new car wasn't even a priority because I needed to make sure I was able to get to-and-from work and take my daughter to-and-from school."
Like most plans, Eddie's changed eventually, and the modifications slowly but surely began. For starters, he wanted a gorgeous front lip from Alpina, the same company from Germany known for its hand-finished, high-performance sedans. He is still looking for an Alpina front lip, but when he found a replica for sale, it made its way onto the front bumper of Eddie's E39 wagon so that he could have something up front while he continues to search for a deal on the actual Alpina one. It's a subtle change that not all BMW fans would spot right away, thanks to the big, bold lettering stamped front-and-center on the front lip.
When having a conversation with Eddie about his E39 Touring, one aspect is usually the center of attention; his wheels, tires, and brakes.
Naturally, the wheels tend to get the most attention, as they command a certain amount of respect. Eddie’s E39 Touring rides on authentic, three-piece Kranze Cerberus wheels made by famed Japanese wheel manufacturer Weds. The name Weds alone carries weight in the car community. Eddie runs an 18x10.5 +5 setup in the front and an 18x11.5 +6 setup in the rear. Normally, those offsets would be dangerous for a car with factory fenders, but his E39 wagon can handle the sauce.
Federal 595SS tires (235/35R18 front and 255/35R18 rear) help the wagon glide ever so gracefully through streets of Los Angeles and are paired with a street-friendly brake setup consisting of 88 Rotors Platinum Series drilled-and-slotted rotors and StopTech brake pads.
Since Eddie uses his E39 wagon as his daily, he believes in keeping the engine stock. Full disclosure, Eddie revealed he's on his third engine in his wagon—somewhat hard to believe, but it's true.
Virtually every iteration of the BMW E39 came standard with a M54B25 DOHC inline-six cylinder engine. In 2000, the M54 began to replace the outgoing M52 version; the turn of the century meant the M54 brought with it modern advancements like an all-aluminum construction and variable valve timing. As a result, the M54 rightfully earned its place in Ward's 10 Best Engines not once, but twice. The M54B25 delivers a solid 189 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque in stock form.
Normally the ignition coils on the M54 are hidden thanks to a sleek coil cover from the factory. However, since Eddie was constantly chasing burnt coils and having to replace them, he decided to forgo adding the cover back on. Fortunately, FCP Euro carries brand new OEM-style replacement coils featuring a lifetime warranty, so don't risk the reliability of your ride on coils from the junkyard, folks.
Aftermarket top-mount camber plates keep Eddie's BMW E39 Touring dialed-in nice and steady on the street while cruising to work or picking up his daughter. His E39 sits nice and low whenever he desires with just the push of a button. Dropping his E39 Touring on air wasn’t exactly the easiest task, however.
"We're coming over and we’re throwing that air set up in the car, and you can’t say no," Eddie laughed when asked how difficult his air-suspension setup was to install.
That day, he and his friends installed a pair of Airlift Performance coil-overs in the front and Universal Air double bellow bags in the rear. The setup uses a four-gallon tank and a ViAir 400cc compressor managed by an Airlift Performance AutoPilot v2 air management system.
Unfortunately, sometimes a build can be plagued with issues, and Eddie's is no exception. Rampant cooling and transmission-issues left Eddie's E39 wagon driving home on limp mode more times than he'd like to admit.
Eddie has had to replace his coolant expansion tank a few times, and fortunately FCP Euro carries parts like this for those situations. As some E39s begin to get twenty years old and older, these plastic-constructed pieces tend to crack as they age. Factory o-rings typically wear out and begin to leak as they get older, which warrants a replacement even if your car doesn't have these issues... yet.
When you want a little extra bass in the way your BMW sounds, you might consider a custom exhaust as Eddie did. It's just enough fun factor to turn up the volume, but not completely drown out your passengers in the process.
Notice anything different about the interior of Eddie's E39 Touring? Attention to detail might tell you that he replaced the factory steering wheel with an E46 M3 version, but what you can’t see is a quick-release hiding behind it.
In addition to that, you've probably spotted the graffiti-inspired sticker bombing that stretches the entire length of the dashboard and parts of the center console. Eddie admits he's a fan of street art. Fortunately since he lives in Los Angeles, he’s practically at the epicenter of such enjoyment.
These OEM leather seats might be well worn like your grandfather's New Balance shoes from Costco, but just like grandpa's La-Z-Boy® recliner, they're as comfy as they come; even after boasting more than 18 years of use.
It's not often you see someone replace a shift knob on an automatic transmission, but we won't knock the hustle. Eddie upgraded to a Likewise "Neil Diamond" shift knob, and the survey says, this diamond is in the "flawless" category.
Isn't it funny how even the smallest changes can sometimes make the biggest difference? Something as simple as a wind deflector to protect a moonroof can add just enough flare to change the car's character. For fitment and finish reasons, best to stick with OEM if you can.
No, that is not a law enforcement partition cage in the back of Eddie's E39 Touring. It's actually a protective screen that's OEM from the factory. One of the many benefits of having a wagon is hauling more than you could with a sedan and Eddie likes to use his wagon for not only transporting his daughter but his dog as well.
This E39 wagon is rocking an OEM-style extended touring roof spoiler. E39 Touring enthusiasts know that finding any sort of roof spoiler is rare, so if you can find one, jump on it as soon as possible.
Eddie resides east of Downtown Los Angeles and that energy carries through to his aforementioned car club, Deadset. Being a car enthusiast himself, Eddie attributes most of his build to the power of friendship.
"I feel without my friends, my plans for the car would never have changed and it would still be stock," he said.
Eddie has a litany of plans for his BMW E39 525i Touring, but not until he picks up another daily driver.
“I haven’t decided on a color, but I do plan to paint the car. I also want to give the car a side-exit exhaust on the rear bumper and possibly change up the wheels," he concluded.
Sounds like new wheels, new paint, and a new bag setup are in store for his E39 Touring. Perhaps an engine swap if he’s feeling frisky, he told us. Cardinal sin? You decide.
Story by Harrison Noble
Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you enjoyed this BMW E39, you can find additional BMW-related content at bmw.fcpeuro.com, as well as more build features like this one, here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS