Photography by Dan Wagener / @dan_wagener
First glance at Mike Ashcraft's 1997 E39 528i and you would never suspect that it has close to 305,000 miles on it. Mike's dad had bought it in 2006 from North Carolina as his new daily to replace his 1983 Mercedes Benz 380 SEL. The car had 113,000 miles on it at that time. His dad put 130,000 more miles on it in about 3 years due to traveling for business. Eventually it got to the point where it became too costly for him to keep piling the miles on it and Mike conveniently had just gotten his license. Since the car wasn’t worth much anyway it became his. His dad ended up buying an E46 330xi to replace it as his new daily.
Over the last 8 years Mike's attended to a lot of maintenance on this car, so much to the point that he can’t even keep track anymore. Most notably though was the top end rebuild that was done at 275k miles due to a leaking head gasket. At the time the head gasket was replaced, all seals in top end were done, S52 cams, new radiator/water pump, and Raceland headers were installed. It has an automatic transmission and as far as Mike knows, the trans/fluid is still original and going strong. The M52 engine is the original as well.
Mike's done quite a bit of modding to this car to make it his own during his ownership. Performance wise as previously mentioned were the S52 cams and headers. This winter he's going to install a Supersprint resonator delete and a Vibrant muffler. Being that it's a high-mileage automatic 528i performance wasn't the highest priority of this car.
Mike focused more on enhancing the aesthetics, and that's what really caught my attention. The E39 M5 front and rear bumpers were swapped on. A Slimmbones carbon fiber front lip and carbon fiber rear diffuser were also added for a little more personalization. Some other minor upgrades included gloss black shadowline trim, DJ auto headlights, clear sidemarkers, euro Hella Celis tail lights, OEM facelift kidney grills, and a trunk lip spoiler.
My favorite thing on Mike's car is probably the wheels. A custom set of 18x9" / 18x10" 3-piece OZ Mito's. Originally being an 18x8.5" 2-piece set, he bought new lips and barrels to fit them exactly how he wanted. The wheel faces are a hand-brushed finish done by Mike himself.
The car is sitting on Broadway Static coilovers with 12k front and 10k rear springs, along with Powergrid adjustable front sway bar endlinks and a 540i RSB w/Beastpower brackets. The stance is low and aggressive without excessive negative camber, dangerous tire stretch, or destroyed fenders.
Mike just finished up the interior makeover this past year. The interior was originally grey and slowly converted to black with ultrasuede headliner, OEM suede sunvisors, black door panels, black carpet, and black lower dash. The rest of the interior upgrades include titanium trim, sunroof delete, silver gauge rings, M5 leather center console, euro M5 leather armrest, M5 dead pedal, Hamann e-brake handle, re-wrapped sport steering wheel, self-dimming rear view mirror, homelink retrofit, Pioneer touch screen headunit, Bav sound speakers, Sound Ordinance subwoofer and a rear view camera. Last but not least, custom dyed Cinnamon seats that compliment the Montreal Blue exterior perfectly.
This car's responsible for teaching Mike how to work on cars and he says he never wants to get rid of it even with the age and miles. His future plans include a 5 speed manual transmission swap with a custom limited slip differential... and the biggest plan is to turbocharge it. Although this won’t be happening anytime soon, especially with his E39 M5 also taking up funds.