The Porsche Carrera GT, Lexus LFA, and the Dodge Viper all shares a critical ingredient that makes us lust after them. It is a mechanical masterpiece, and the explosive symphony echos through our chest. Perhaps I’ve been fantasizing a bit too hard – I may need some new pants after that. While not every car with a V10 is a great one, just about every V10 I can think of (with the exception of the stock Triton V10 from Ford) sings the demonic swan song to make my soul weep with desire.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the V10 in the BMW M5 was one of its main highlights. This came as a bit of a surprise to me-I had been dreaming of the day that I would get to drive the legendary V10 M5. This Autobahn-crunching beast would soon enlighten me.

Famously nicknamed the E60, this M5 struck the world with storm when it was first released back in 2004. It’s Mercedes counterpart, the E63 AMG boasted a naturally aspirated V8 with 600 horsepower, and the S6 had the Supercharged 4.2L V8 with a modest power figure around 300. While the BMW didn’t quite brute force the market with the highest horsepower, the package they offered certainly was appealing – at least to the original owners.

You can see the intensity the second you take a look under the hood. Delicately shoehorned into the cramped engine bay lives a naturally aspirated 5.0L V10. This paired with a transmission from the BMW Sauber formula one racing team should make a compelling duo. “Should”. As you start the engine, the V10 roars to life and reminds you that you are not sitting in just any 5 series. BMWs we’re still pretty tame back in the early 2000s; no obnoxious badging everywhere, no elementary cosmetic trim stuck on everywhere to show-off. If it weren’t for the exhaust note and the occasional M-logo reminders, one may even mistakenly think that they are sitting in a 530i. This is a good thing though; the classy understatement bodes well with the stately aura of the car.

On the other hand, I’m sure everyone knows about the notoriety of the SMG transmission in the M5. Most times, you as the driver get to decide how you want the car to drive. Sure, there are differences in the driving dynamics of various cars, but you get to pick if you want to be a maniac or a grandpa on his Sunday drive. With the M5 on the other hand; it will behave like a dull pencil if you drive it the way you drive every other car.

Under light acceleration, the paddle shifters behave the same way a 92 year old retiree would:

“What did you say? You want me to arrange the shears? Back in my day we used to have to herd the sheep before we could convince it to behave….” Is what you’ll hear when you tap either of the paddle shifters. Once he’s done telling you about how he had to cross a couple streams and summit a few mountains to get to his school, THEN you feel an unsettling lurch as the engine groans since it’s been forced to rev down as it upshifts. Maybe I should’ve brought it a bottle of whiskey to convince it to be nice to me.

It is truly one of the most appalling transmissions to ever have been fitted to a high-performance car. It has a very specific way that the car wants you to drive it-it’s ok once you figure out the M5’s ways, but you’ll be wrestling with that dim witted transmission until then. You almost have to drive it like you’re driving a manual – just without the fun of rowing through the gears. What a disappointment.

One of the springs for the paddles were broken… BMW tings ✨😄

Overall, it’s a great machine. The entire time I was driving it, I had utter confidence that it would have no problem pinning me into the back of the seat for miles upon miles. Except for when the check engine light came on and went into limp mode that is – twice. That’s with a rebuilt motor with less than 20k on it.

All of this brought me do this specific conclusion. IF you can find an example with low miles, ideally with a manual, you’re likely to see prices well out of reach for most people. IF you can afford it, you should buy it but at a discount so you can rebuild the motor when the time comes. Otherwise, make sure to be ready for a hefty maintenance costs that’s likely to make your eyes water.

There’s no doubt on my mind that this was a phenomenal car when it was new. I would love nothing more than to be able to drive the manual version to see how it compares. However with this one – I’d compare it to a cute little kid or a dog. It’s cool if it’s yours; MUCH better if it isn’t.