Only yesterday I was lamenting, once again, the dearth of nice condition E34s on the market. Well, as if to prove me wrong, another neat example has popped up on eBay. When these cars crop up in this kind of condition, they serve as a reminder of just how handsome an E34 can be when cleaned up. The lines are crisp and unfussy and the overall impression given off by the well-proportioned design is of a purposeful sport sedan. This particular example is an unusually specified 535i with ultra low miles. Unfortunately, it also has a rather ambitious price tag.
All posts tagged e34
I’ve posted a couple of non-M E34s recently (see here, and here), since I’m a fan of this iteration of the 5-series (I even daily drive one myself). I’ve noted before however that it’s quite hard to find one in good condition. While it’s relatively easy to find an inexpensive, equivalent-era Mercedes Benz in nice shape, BMWs of a similar age in the affordable sector of the market are often tired and worn. Perhaps it’s because Stuttgart simply made better cars during the period. Perhaps it’s because many Mercedes owners seem to feel it’s their responsibility to steward their cars into the future, and take care of them accordingly. In any event, when a nice E34 pops up it’s always a nice surprise.
Thanks to our reader Corbin for suggesting this Canadian 540i 6-speed. Not only does it look like a clean example, it’s a well equipped car with a few tasteful modifications.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 540i 6-speed on Kijiji
In the 1980s, especially in the early 1980s, if you wanted a hot BMW your best bet was to look for a “gray market” car. Equipped with stronger motors and unequipped with emissions equipment and bumper-car bumpers, they were the more pure versions of the original designs. But as the 80s drew to a close, the flood of Euro-spec cars into the U.S. dried up. It became harder to import and Federalize them, and the differentiation between U.S. and Euro versions became smaller. True, there were cars that still had a pretty big gulf; the E36 M3 is a great example of this. And it’s still not usual to see fans of a specific model from any of the marques interested in what was available in Europe – or rather, what wasn’t available to U.S. customers. Take the E34 M5, for example. There were a number of colors and interiors that U.S. fans didn’t have the chance to partake in, but it’s usually the later run 3.8 motor that raises eyebrows for U.S. fans. That, and of course the Touring model of the M5 that debuted with the E34 and wasn’t brought here. But this particular E34 M5 doesn’t have any of those things. It’s an early run car without the larger motor, so the S38B36 is essentially the same one you’d get in the U.S. model. Interestingly, the HD93 U.S. spec car is much more rare than the HD91 European version – 1,678 produced versus 5,877. Rarity also isn’t on the side of the color, as Jet Black 668 with 0318 / L7SW Black Nappa Leather isn’t an outrageous combination. It is more rare to see the four post seat setup which this car has, but the real kicker is the mileage and condition with a scant 500 miles a year covered:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 Euro on eBay
A couple of weeks ago I wrote up a 1995 530i. I noted that despite classically handsome styling and a spot-on chassis, the E34 5-series has remained curiously under appreciated, with the exception perhaps of the M5 variant. At the time, I admitted that the particular example I posted (an automatic with the relatively underpowered 3.0 V8) wasn’t exactly the best of the range. This 525i probably offers a better all round package than the 530i, and is more likely to be attractive to those looking for a cheap but dynamic daily driver. While it’s not in quite the same condition as that other car, this one arguably has a better engine and comes in a better color, with a more competitive asking price. It also features that all important third pedal.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 525i on eBay
It’s surprisingly difficult to find a clean, low-mileage E34 5-series. I should know: I recently bought one myself. Although I eventually found a nice example, I had to wade through a lot of sad and tired cars before finding it. That’s a shame because these are among the most attractive and well-balanced cars produced by BMW in recent memory. The design neatly bridges the angular, four-headlight era with the softer, more rounded period to come in the late 90s, and is likely to be looked back upon as a classic. The styling is purposeful, handsome and unmistakably BMW. Even the hot versions, the 540i M-Sport and the M5, are only distinguished from the lower models by subtly modified bumpers and side skirts, leaving owners of base models, like myself, able to kid themselves that they are driving something a bit more special than they really are. The finely weighted chassis makes the car feel surprisingly throwable and sporty for an executive sedan; if the equivalent car from Mercedes, the W124, is built for autobahn cruising, the E34 is well suited to driving the back roads.
But unfortunately, a lot of these have already been driven into the ground. Every now and again however a nice one pops up, like this mint condition example for sale in Canada and eligible for import into the US.