Unique Hartge BMW X5 5.0 | PH Private Area

Nowadays there's a plethora of M SUVs; 20 years ago you had to think a little outside the box…

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 11 May 2023 / Loading comments

Even by the standards of the industry’s fast SUV obsession, BMW’s offering is what might best be called comprehensive. Those with a lot to spend, for example, have the choice of an X7 M60i, iX M60 and the XM, which is plenty before you get to the X3, 4, 5 and 6, each with their own fully-fledged M variants on top of the M Performance stuff. Until fairly recently you could still have a quad-turbo diesel engine. The firm is so obviously all-in on performance SUVs that it comes as a mild surprise when a car like the X1 launches without an M model immediately available. 

But then why wouldn’t they? It is the most lucrative mainstream niche, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. Indeed, looking back on the sustained years of success for BMW M SUVs now, the bigger surprise is that it didn’t start sooner. The very first E53 X5s arrived with customers at the end of the 20th century, yet an M version didn’t come until a decade later and the second generation. The 4.4-litre V8 was offered, and a slightly sportier 4.6iS arrived as a toe in the water, but anyone wanting more than that car could offer had to look to the aftermarket.

That this 5.0-litre Hartge X5 is the only one of its kind might indicate that BMW was right to hold off launching its first M-branded SUV. The fact it cost £75,000 two decades ago (or almost £130k today) probably won’t have helped, either. But all these years later it’s certainly an interesting bit of BMW history, and nobody could accuse Hartge, then or now, of any half-measures. Taking a 4.4-litre X5, the near-£20k of engine work included a tougher block, forged pistons, forged rods, naughtier cams, uprated injection and a completely new exhaust, for 380hp and 376lb ft, healthy gains of 60hp and more than 50lb ft over standard. That was in addition to a chassis overhaul featuring modifications like a 30mm lower ride height on Hartge’s own springs, stiffer anti-roll bars and even a Quaife limited-slip diff, which must have seemed properly silly for an X5 in 2003.

The story of this Oxford Green BMW gets better, too, as it was originally ordered by Carlos Monteverde. Not a household name, sure, but the man who – until that incredible Mercedes sale last year – had set the record for the most expensive car bought at auction, buying a 250 GTO in 2014 for $38m. So this X5 was probably just the school-run SUV once upon a time. Must have some stories to tell…

The Hartge X5 has been with its current owner since 2019, and is soon to tick over 66,000 miles. There’s said to be plenty of history to go with it, and the car was treated to an Inspection 3 service earlier this year. The seller is also including copies of the magazines it has featured in, which you certainly don’t get with every used BMW. And it’s also the star of a YouTube vid.

Given what this set Mr Monteverde back in 2003 (the pics of the original invoices are well worth looking at) and the car’s unique status, £12k seems an agreeable price. Of course, less special X5 V8s are available – this 4.6 iS is probably the closest comparable thing – but so extensive is the work done on the Hartge version that it doesn’t really seem a valid alternative. Fans of V8s, iconic BMW tuners and the original X5 – all very good things individually – will find plenty to enjoy here. All for less than the price of the Ultimate Pack on an X6M…


Engine: 4,930cc, V8
Transmission: 5-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power: [email protected]/Arpm
Torque: [email protected]/Arpm
MPG: 22 (standard)
CO2: 305g/km (standard)
Year registered: 2003
Recorded mileage: 64,698
Price new: £75,025.20 (see pics!)
Yours for: £12,000

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