The California-based tuning company Dinan has been providing performance upgrades for BMWs since 1979. There’s no shortage of newer cars on the market that purport to have some kind of mods from the firm; 20 cars come up in eBay right now under a search for Dinan, and Carter wrote up this neat ’08 550i M Sport Dinan the other day, for example. But it’s even more interesting to stumble upon an example of an older car with some Dinan components, like this ’95 540i.
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I still remember well when the new E60 5-series launched. I was not impressed. It looked modern, sure, but it also looked very heavy and it was full of odd angles. It was expensive, too, and though the M5 came with a massive screaming V10, the rest of the run seemed to be pretty tame. But BMW offered steady upgrades throughout production, and the post-LCI sedans really came into their own with the M-Sport package. A few weeks ago I posted a ’08 550i M-Sport 6-speed on our Facebook page, and its popularity proved that more people are beginning to appreciate the performance value offered in this unique package. Having spent the past half year with a E61 Sport, they are really fantastic cars to drive and ooze quality and you can count me among the converted. Today I have another 550i M-Sport 6-speed, but this one has been turned up a few notches by Dinan:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 550i M-Sport on eBay
The other day I was talking with my friend about Turner Motorsports. I first met Will Turner when he was a BMWCCA instructor, just trying to establish his business of selling parts on the side. He and his compatriots all sported E30 M3s; this was, after all, the days before the launch of the U.S. E36 M3. Turner managed to parlay early success in a local modification scene outside of Boston into a countrywide business, and after some time in the club race scene he moved into the major leagues. Success against better funded teams was sometimes difficult, but today Turner is still alive and very much kicking, having become one of the two defacto factory-backed teams running the M6 GT3. To get to that point of factory involvement is an arduous journey to say the least, and few who start out make it.
One other who did was Steve Dinan, who took a niche tuning business from the 1980s into a factory option today. You can walk down to your dealer and order up a fully backed, Dinan modified car. That took a tremendous amount of work and is a testament to the quality of the products on offer from Dinan. They truly take the well-engineered BMWs to the next level, but modifying them to do so can be quite pricey. Take today’s M Roadster, for example. While it wasn’t exactly a cheap car to begin with, with entry level prices in 1998 starting around $42,000. This M Roadster, though, went on to get a further $36,000 in modifications from Dinan:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M Roadster Dinan S3 on eBay
Nate’s look at the E34 and E39 Dinan M5s over the past week is a poignant reminder of the factory-backed performance available in these super sedans. In the best style of “Q-Ships” – World War II merchant ships that hid surprising armament behind their docile exterior – they’re turned up but never outrageous. When it came to the E60 chassis though, with 500 horsepower on tap how did one increase the already world-beating performance? In Dinan’s case, there was no replacement for displacement, as they punched out the 5 liter V10 to 5.8 liters. The result was an additional 100 horsepower and around 80 lb.ft more torque while still maintaining the stratospheric redline. Yet that insane performance was available in a wrapper which looked no different than a standard M5:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8 on eBay
The E34 M5 may be the least-loved of the breed, but who is going to argue with a 3.9 liter stroker S38? I adore my S38B35, and the thought of a torquier, gnarlier Dinanified inline-6 with an extra pint of volume makes me tingle. This Calypso Red M5 has made the rounds, first selling on BaT in 2012 for a relative pittance before spending the last year-plus trying to spin a profit. The speculative seller has repainted it but accrued fewer than 1k miles, making clear his intentions to cash in on a rare, tuned M-car. The reality that E34s aren’t appreciating like E30s or E38s has apparently begun to set in, as he’s asking now asking $6,500 less than in 11/2014. If you’re looking for a monster E34, this is probably the way to go. But when you could be getting an E39 with 60 more horsepower and a generation newer everything, does anyone like the E34 enough to pay the premium? I’m guessing the seller is going to have to have more patience or less pride before this M5 can start spinning its wheels again with a real driver.