The E39 is a bit special in regard to wheels, as it has a hub diameter of 74.1mm where most BMWs have a hub diameter of 72.6mm. This means that there is less choice than with other BMW types. Nevertheless, BMW has sold quite a number of different wheel styles. This is an attempt to list some of them, based on old German price lists I have found on the internet. There are at least two sources of images and information on the internet, BMW wheel styles, and BMW Treff Felgenkatalog.
Looking at these wheels, it might be surprising to see (considering current trends) that most E39s were equipped with 15″ wheels. 16″ were standard only on the biggest six-cylinder engines, and you had to buy the 540i to get 17″ wheels (yes, a 530i has 16″ wheels, a 330i 17″ wheels, even though both have the same brake disc diameter). This means that most BMW wheels are of 15″ and 16″ size.
- Style 33 “Speichenstyling”, 7×16 – very common on pre-facelift models
- Style 32 “BMW styling II”, 7×15
- Style 5 (style 29?) “Kreuzspeiche”, 7×16 – the E39 version of the classic BMW cross-spoke wheel
- Style 5 “Kreuzspeiche”, 8×17 – two-part wheel
- Style 32 “Radialstyling”, 8×17/9×17 staggered set
- Style 25 “Classic”, 7×16
- Style 83 “Sternspeiche”, 7×15 – standard on LCI 520i/525i/525d
- Style 48 “Radialstyling”, 7×16 – standard on LCI 530i/530d
- Style 82 “Parallelspeiche”, 7×16 – standard on LCI 535i/540i
- Style 50 “Radialspeiche”, 7×16 – standard on Edition Exclusive
- Style 80 “Y-Speiche”, 8×17 – standard on Edition Lifestyle
- Style 66 “M Parallelspeiche”, 8×17/9×17 staggered set – standard on Edition Sport
- Style 81 “Sternspeiche”, 8×17
- Style 42 “Kreuzspeiche”, 8×18/9×18 staggered set – two-part wheel
- Style 37 “M Parallelspeiche”, 8×18/9×18 staggered set
- Style 71 “Doppelspeiche”, 8×17 – two-part wheel
- Style “M Parallelspeiche”, 8×18/9×18 staggered set
In addition to the above wheels found in old price lists, the Felgenkatalog lists several other wheels. With some of them I’m not sure whether they’ll fit as they might be E34 wheels, which have the same offset but the smaller hub diameter.
If you’re looking for new wheels, I’d definitely consider an 8×17 set. They will look more modern than 7×16, and the required 235/45R17 tires are actually a bit cheaper than the 225/55R16 tires for the 16″ wheels. Most 17″ wheels were sold as staggered sets (which might look cool, but otherwise I’m not a big fan of them), so finding four 8x17s might take a bit more effort.
I actually have a hard time picking a favourite 8×17 wheel. I generally like the cross-spoke/Y-spoke designs (hence the style 42 on my E46), but I think that the style 5 looks a bit too classical on an E39 and would be a better fit for an E34. The style 42 two-part looks a bit too sporty for my tasted with the visible bolts. I’d probably have to go with the style 66, even though it is a sport M wheel and was sold as staggered set. In 7×16, it’s a bit easier. I quite like the style 29 (might be a bit too classical for an LCI) and style 82, but I like the style 50, too.