One could argue, pretty convincingly, that the E36 M3 is the best value if you want an M car right now. Good examples can still be found under $10,000, parts are plentiful, and there’s a huge selection of examples to choose from. But for me, the best value has to be the E34 M5. First off, if you’ve never seen a used advertisement for a second-generation M5, you might have missed that these supreme sedans were the last of the handbuilt M models. If you hate movies, you might have missed that a M5 was also an unsung hero in the cult classic Ronin, even if it couldn’t get away from a Citroen and the S8 was more memorable. If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know that it’s father – the original M5 – is currently on a fairly steep appreciation curve. Yet the second generation M5, while considered a bit softer than the E28, was a potent sleeper nonetheless. And for me, it’s the ultimate M car; not because it’s the fastest, prettiest or most valuable; but because it expresses the ethos of what made BMW great. A Spartan warrior wolf in taxi-cab clothes, the M5 combined literal race-bred technology into an easily digestible package; it was a pleasure to drive fast or slow, it was reasonably reliable (and especially so considering the performance envelope), and yet unlike Porsche Turbos, Lotus Esprits, Chevrolet Corvettes or any other “sports” car that offered similar performance, it was a stealthy package – it was the adult choice. In 1991 if the M5 was graduating high school, it would have been Valedictorian and voted “most likely to succeed”, but it would have gotten my vote for “most athletic” and “prom king” as well – it’s that good. Despite these superlative qualities, a reputation second to none in terms of quality and driving experience, the E34 M5 still hasn’t caught on as a market darling:
All posts tagged e34
Contrary to the waves of criticism heaped upon the E34 M5 as being less raw and special than the E28 and not as incredible-in-every-way as the E39, the second-generation super sedan has a lot going for it. The E34 didn’t deviate from BMW’s strengths – sharp lines and an inline-6 remained – but it is decidedly more modern in both looks and amenities than its predecessor. While the E34 brought the ability to purchase M5s in North America in a variety of colors, this M5 is done à la Canada with black covering the exterior and interior. Both have been redone recently, helping it look extraordinarily sharp as it approaches 200k miles. Small aesthetic modifications make for a unique package, highlighted by an Alcantara headliner inside while the 5-less ///M badge is an unfortunate choice and more readily indicates a pimped-out 525i than a hand-built special. The stock wheels (which come with the car) and chrome kidneys would be more my style, but the E39 M5 wheels look more appropriate than usual as a retrofit.
Click for details: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay
I feel as though I’ve been on a kick of featuring performance variants lately and while a well maintained go-fast-machine is certainly attention grabbing, I think there is something to be said for solid basic transportation as well. This 1994 BMW 530iT lives only a few minutes away from me and I swear I’ve seen it out on local streets. E34 wagons always catch my eye, I’ve written up a number of them in the past, and while I usually look for rare ones with a 3rd pedal, I couldn’t pass over this example.
It appears to be quite clean overall and the seller mentions that $1,400 in service was recently performed. With an older BMW that could have easily been one minor part and a bunch of labor, but still, good to know it has recently been in the shop. I’d be sure to find out where he took it and touch base with the shop to see how well they know the car. The seller does mention that he has all the maintenance records from new, so either they’re the original owner or the records came with the car. Lots more to find out here, but I have to say this is one intriguing package.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 530i Touring on Craigslist Los Angeles
Last week I wrote up a gorgeous E34 540i/6 M-Sport that was listed just below $20k. Seems that most people thought the price on that was too high, despite the low miles and it’s owner being a long time BMW enthusaist. So, when I saw this ’91 M5 on Pelican Parts with a sale price about $2k lower than that of the 540i, I knew I had to write it up. I’m interested to see what ya’ll think of this deal, because while this car has nearly double the miles of the 540i, it has some Dinan bits, and it’s an M5. Is this car really so special that it warrants the price being within a months rent of a 540i with much lower miles?
Yes. Yes it is.
This is the E34 M5 we’re talking about here. This is THE Bimmer of the 90s. I acknowledge how cool the 540i M-Sports are, but I’m an enthusaist, and I’m the target audience for specialty models. The M5 is popular with everyone, and if you’re looking to get into a young timer classic, name recognition is important. There might be more costs upfront but the return on investment will be higher as well. Five or ten years down the road, when you’ve had your fun and are ready for something different, what would you rather be listing, an M5 or a 540i/6 M-Sport? The answer should be M5 every single time, that is if you’re into making some money on the deal. I’m not saying that isn’t possible with the 540i or any other specialty variants that were similar to a top dog car, but I know it’ll be harder.
Name recognition goes a long way and down the road when the bubble on 90s German vehicles bursts, you’ll want the well known hardware on your hands. I still don’t think the 540i I wrote up last week is a bad deal. What the seller wants is perfectly reasonable for a car of that class, with that many miles, no matter how old it is. This M5 on the other hand can command nearly the same amount with much higher miles because of its cultural cachet. Have I hammered home that the M5 is the better deal? Okay, lets get into the nitty gritty of what I like about this example.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Pelican Parts
Alpina is a name which holds as much weight in enthusiast’s minds as names like AMG and Ruf, and for good reason. Since the infancy of BMW’s mainstream involvement in both motorsports and road cars, Alpina has been intrinsically linked to the marque and has developed some of the more memorable fast alternatives to BMW’s own M series. They have a different character; you could say they were less aggressive, but the signature Alpina Blue with large turbine wheels, character stripes and spoilers paired often with the combination of specially upholstered interiors replete with rich woods results in a package that many view is more special than the standard production cars. Their complete reworking of models right down to special engines and suspensions has resulted in a bespoke BMW made in limited quantities and with its own unique character: