I am Teh Edumacator.
Join Date: May 2005
Location: ATL, London, and Barcelona
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All I know is that my buddies with late-model Mercs all complain about reliability issues, and nobody I know personally with an E39 has serious issues. Minor ones yes, but not big-time wallet-breaking ones like those Mercs.
1999 E39 540i/6-VF Stage 1 S/C, Dinan exhaust, Dinan strut+shock braces, Dinan ltwt flywheel + clutch, Dinan Brembo BBK, Dinan monoball, H&R Springs, Koni Yellows, M5 sways, Dinan forged 18" wheels, &c.
1995 E38 740i. Highly modded. Faster than you.
Sold 2-28-07: 1997 E36 M3/4, 8-30-05 RIP 1997 528i
Lindsay fan club member.