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bmw e39 M5 carbon black & Caramel

Carbon Black with Caramel Nappa Leather, the classic E39 M5 look, easily one of the most desirable color combination to have for this model series.

This beautiful low mileage example unfortunately suffered from severe water etching damage. It was accidentally parked within range of lawn water sprinklers and left to cook and etch under the hot summer Sun.

With clear coat preservation in mind, this detail is focused on resolving the etching damage and restoring the "as new" feel inside and out.

engine: S62 4.9l naturally aspirated V8
power: 400hp @ 6600rpm
torque: 500nm @ 3800rpm
max speed: 300km/h (unrestricted)
0-100km/h: 5.1 s
0-200km/h: 16.9 s
transmission: 6 speed manual
powertrain layout: front engine / rear wheel drive.
weight: 1720kg
year: 2002

engine bay

After 16 years there is always plenty of dirty and dust that settles itself in various places.

The whole engine bay was washed, with special attention given to the cabin air filters (mummified cricket. Noticed as well that the cabin filter housing drain hoses were missing from both sides, so new ones were ordered.

One of the common dirty areas in the S62 engine bay, the power steering reservoir, due to how dirt attractive ATF is, was properly scrubbed with degreaser.

All plastics were then treated with plastic and UV protectant.

S62 engine bay before wash.



With the wheels removed, the wheel wells were given a fast scrub and the wheels were decontaminated and washed.

Using a soft brush, all window rubber trim and usually hard to reach parts were cleaned with a gentle All Purpose Cleaner (APC).

Before the wash process, an attempt to remove the water spotting was done with distilled white vinegar, but with no success. 

A double bucket wash was given, followed by iron decontamination and clay process to pick up any remaining contaminants.




The interior was in rather good condition, just dirty and dusty and in need of some time spent detailing it.

Before vacuum cleaning, I used a small soft brush to remove the dirt stuck in creases and vents.

Right after, all plastics, air vents and buttons/switches were washed with a gentle APC, with some extra care given to the areas most affected and stained by sunscreen.

The headliner was vacuumed and also carefully wiped down with APC, removing staining and dirt.


Interior details

One simple part that on all BMW E39 suffers from premature wear, is the rubberized central armrest handle.

The surface gets worn out and filled with scratches, becoming an eye sore right in the middle of the interior.

Fortunately, it is a relatively cheap piece to purchase and requires just some small deconstruction to install a new one, which greatly increases the "as new" aesthetic of the interior.


New trim piece installed on the leather armrest.

Leather cleaning

The Caramel Nappa Leather was in great condition, requiring only a a thorough vacuum and wash.

To start with, all sand and dirt stuck on the leather creases was released and vacuumed. This sort of dirt accumulation contributes considerably to leather wear, as we sit down and move about on the seat while driving, the sand/dirt particle sand down the leather finish.

All leather surfaces were then washed, with the more special attention spent ingrained dirt areas, like the armrests which were rather rained with sunscreen or the rear of the seats from being kicked and scuffed.


Before polishing, one last attempt was made for chemical removal of the severe water etching, with specialized water spot and silica scale removers, but with no success. Only option was to try to remove and restore a flat clearcoat as much as possible.

With a two step polishing process, keeping in mind to remove as little clearcoat as possible, a almost blemish free surface was accomplished. 

To seal the finish, 2 layers of glass coating were applied.

Finally, the gorgeous Carbon Black paint finish was free to shine again, with the bonus new BMW badge to grace the restored paint finish.


Exterior details

With the paint restored and sealed, the finishing touches could be done...

Exhausts were polished.

Plastic Trim protected with UV resistant sealant.

New cabin air filter rubber drain hoses installed.

New windshield wipers and polished and sealed glass.


Treating the plastic trim.


At the end of almost 40 hours of labor, this Carbon Black & Caramel M5 was ready to be delivered.

A truly elegant color combination, now showings its best after a cleaning process that removed 16 years of dirt, swirls, etching damage and imperfections.

Another E39 M5 completed and ready to proudly display its clean classic lines on any European road... truly one of the best sedans ever made.