Long overshadowed by both the E28 and E39, I think the E34 version of the M5 is in fact one of the last definitive M-cars, and is certainly worthy of the kind of attention that it now seems to be getting among M-enthuasiasts (especially those priced out of the E30 market). On the outside it’s modern but understated, a little conservative even, with only a few external features distinguishing it from an ordinary ’90s 5-series. But underneath that utilitarian exterior lies a screamer of a straight six engine, the S38, which has a lineage traceable to the race-bred motor in the iconic M1. While production of this generation M5 ran from 1989 to 1995, cars outside of the US received a revised version of the motor in 1991. The new unit bumped capacity from 3.6 to 3.8 liters and pushed power output from 311 to 335 hp. This particular car is a European-spec example equipped with that larger 3.8 liter motor. It also comes in a rather fetching color.
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The other day I posted a 500E, which was Mercedes’ take on the Q-ship formula of stuffing a large, powerful engine and race-tweaked suspension into an ordinary looking mid-size executive sedan. What I didn’t mention was that the 500E was, of course, a response to the original (and some would say best) wolf in sheep’s clothing: the E34 generation M5. While I’ve posted a few E34s lately, I’ve so far avoided writing about the M-variant (though my colleagues have written up some really nice ones: see here and here, for example). This is only because my preference is to find cheap daily drivers to share with our readers and, as enthusiasts begin to seek out more affordable alternatives to the E30 M3, these M5s are increasingly becoming too expensive to count in that category. Still, when this lovely example popped up the other day on Bimmerforums.com, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write it up.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums.com
Following up on Craig’s Euro-spec Diamond Schwarz Metallic E24 comes an unusual E28 M5. There were a few things that caught my eye about this car; first off, Rhode Island is a small community and I feel like I know a pretty good percentage of the E28 M5s that live here, but this one was new to me. Not only was that unique, but the seller was selling two, with a 4-post black/black E34 to nicely compliment the original model. More things stuck out, though; immediately, the European bumpers and lights are a neat look, but it was inside and the black leather that really helps to set this car apart. About a month ago, Nate looked at a sacrilegious turbo swapped M5 with a non-stock black leather, but this one is claimed to be one of the original 101 all-black M5s imported to North America:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on Providence Craigslist
Typically the legendary S38B35 is an engine that gets swapped into other BMWs, now out of them, but today we’re playing opposite day with this No-Effs-Given E28 M5. A little while back it received a turbocharged M30 transplant which is a pretty common setup for E28s – just usually done on more pedestrian models than the extremely rare M. A unique aspect to this auction is that the S38 comes with it, so you have the opportunity to ride the turbo monster as long as you please while retaining the prospect of putting the numbers-matching engine back in eventually. Even so, any hopes of originality are long gone after they spray coated the floor rooting out some rust, replaced the wheel and shift knob with anachronistic wooden parts, and spray painted the homebrew center console to accommodate auxiliary gauges. The one thing that I actually do think is original, contrary to the seller’s claim, is the black interior. With all seats, door cards, and interior trim in black, and miles instead of km, I think this may well be one of the 31 US M5s with black interiors (more than 2 the seller thinks they made, but still an extreme rarity).
This M5 has been hacked and sprayed to the point that it will forever be valued more like an E28 rather than the second-rarest M car. It looks pretty darn good from the outside, albeit modified with later wheels and yellow lenses, and the S38 alone could recoup a serious chunk of the purchase price. It’s already into 5-digits with a long time left on the auction and looks like this basket case M5 with its heart in a box will still pull decent money.
Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay
It is always a bit of a treat to look back at some alumni of the GCFSB pages, especially so when it’s a lovely example of a special car that was snapped up by one of our enthusiast readership. For years we’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. Recent market activity in 2015 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at $42,000 – steep sounding given what they’ve traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. But in terms of overall value, let’s consider today’s Jet Black 1991. It is nearly 100% original, fully documented, accident free and has under 100,000 miles on the clock – and currently represents the best value of the original M-car experience: