Double Take: 1991 BMW M5 – Time to Buy?

We’ve been on an M5 kick lately, and for good reason – the M5 is truly one of the best cars that can do virtually anything an enthusiast asks; it can be a luxury car, a sports car, carry 4 comfortably or 5 in a pinch, and has enough menacing look to make you proud of your carefully purchased pride and joy. But while the E34 has remained a performance bargain over the past few years, like most of the M-crowd from the late 1980s these cars are quickly appreciating; Hagerty calculates the average value of E34 M5s have increased 30 to 40 percent over the past few months. That’s a huge jump, and could be the start of a trend amongst these third generation super-sedans from BMW; so, is now the time to buy the last of the good, affordable examples? We have two to contemplate today, the first of which isn’t a stranger to these pages – I wrote this car up back in April:


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1991 BMW M5

A few weeks ago, Paul took a look at a beautiful 1991 M5, a car often lost in the shuffle. It’s not that it wasn’t an impressive car; it’s just that the cars that bookend it have been lumped into “Legendary” status and the E34 model has not. The E28, long also ignored, has finally gotten the recognition it deserves as a fantastic and great looking sports sedan; similarly, the 400 horsepower E39 – the car that redefined the market – is already being considered by most the car to have. That leaves the smart buyer to look at the quite stylish, silly fast E34 model, most notable for being the last of the “handbuilt” M cars. Today, there’s a nice example on Craigslist:


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1995 BMW 540i M-Sport

About a month ago, I wrote up a 540i M-Sport; black over black with the requisite 6-speed and popular M-Parallels, it was an instant hit for our fans. The price was even pretty reasonable; it was certainly in good shape, for sure. I had only two real issues with it; one is that I probably wouldn’t buy a black car again and that I honestly preferred the M-System “Throwing Stars” to the M-Parallels on this car. As if to answer my concerns – and replete with half the mileage of the last example – comes this stunning white 1995 example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 540i M-Sport on Ebay

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1993 BMW M5 Euro – REVISIT

We saw this stellar looking Daytona Violet European-spec M5 here in the U.S. last September. We loved the 3.8 motor, rare color and M-cloth interior – items not found on U.S. versions in general. Interestingly the car has moved to Wisconsin and has re-appeared on Ebay from a new seller with a new description, now at $15,990 “Buy It Now”. It’s about on par with good examples of the E34 chassis in terms of pricing, but this car has an interesting history; it makes me wonder why the new owner is flipping it so quickly and having added only a few miles. Second time’s the charm?


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1994 BMW 850CSi

The 850CSi is one of those cars that both suffered from enthusiasts’ massive expectations; I have to admit, I’m one of the guilty. Why? I remember well the launch of this car – I studied the development and eagerly awaited the arrival of the M-powered coupe. I even remember my excitement the first time I saw one; Fall, 1994 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut at a BMW event. I had passed by all of the E30 M3s, E28 and E34 M5s and countless other neat BMWs to stare at a midnight blue over tan leather 6-speed coupe. Then I ran towards the tower as the CSi went out on track; I even had a small video camera to document the event. Those were the days that you could get all the way out to the flagging station at start finish. With the CSi visible in the downhill, I clicked “record” and waited for the impending rush of noise and wind, for my mind to be blown by the vigorous display of speed. Instead, what I witnessed was a subtle BMW rolling near-silent by at highway speed. I was massively deflated.

Fast forward two decades, and it makes much more sense to me now. The CSi wasn’t a track monster and still isn’t. This car was aimed at executives who wanted a big, V12 coupe that could take on the 928 GTS, Aston Martins and even the odd Ferrari. They wanted to insert effortless speed into big luxury. Their owners were never going to be the folks doing smokey burnouts, sliding the car up mountain passes. And as a result, today we get to see these come up for sale in near perfect condition, such as today’s example:

Year: 1994
Model: 850CSi
Engine: 5.6 liter V12
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 70,000 mi
Price: $59,950 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 850CSi on eBay

1 of 255 units ever produced for the US market!


6-speed manual!
Final drive ratio 2.93:1
Stiffer suspension!
Chassis lowered 15mm
Servotronic, motorsport specific
Limited slip differential
Automatic Stability Control + Traction (ASC+T)
Aluminium wheels with brake ventilation
Electric steering wheel adjustment
Stronger brakes
Upgraded front and rear spoiler
Dashboard with red pointers and different looks
Folding rear seat backs and ski bag
Leather seats
‘BMW Motorsport’ written on doorhandles
///M emblem embossed in lower door frame
As a top-of-the-range sports tourer, the 850CSi took over from the prototype M8. The 850CSi used the same engine as the 850i, which was tuned so significantly that BMW assigned it a new engine code: S70B56. The modifications included a capacity increase to 5.6 liters and power increase to 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp).

The 850CSi’s modified suspension included stiffer springs and dampers and reduced the car’s ride height. The recirculating ball steering ratio was dropped 15% over the stock E31 setup. The model also sported wider wheels, with the option of forged alloys. The front and rear bumpers were reshaped for improved aerodynamic performance. Four round stainless steel exhaust tips replaced the square tips found on other models. The 6-speed manual gearbox was the only transmission option.

As expected, the 850CSi makes no exception in having several names. In this case, the term M8 is mentionned on and on again. And it’s correct. The 850CSi is a real M-car. It does not only have an M-bred engine (type S70, the S indicates M-origin) but has been manufactured by BMW M as well, according to the VIN which starts with WBS (BMW Motorsport) instead of WBA (BMW AG). This is mentionned in the papers as well. But although the papers say that the correct model name is BMW M8, the car has been enhanced only moderately by the M-Division, compared to the real M8, which remained a prototype only.

It has been serviced by bmw dealers and it is in great shape.

The condition this car appears in is certainly impressive, and points towards my earlier disappointment that these cars weren’t abused but pampered by their well-to-do owners. Were I not to know better, these photos could easily be passed off as press-release photos from the original launch. I struggle to find anything wrong with this car. And yet, that incredible motor attached to this wicked grand tourer is available just below $60,000. If that seems like a lot of money, in my mind it’s not. Compare that price to a 928GTS – there are currently three nice examples of Ebay, all asking a still $80,000 plus. How about 911s? This money wouldn’t get you into much of a 964 chassis 911 Turbo, either – most are at or above this asking price. To me, honestly, the natural competition for this model is really the Ferrari 550 Maranello – and while you can get one of those close to the asking price of this car the reality is that you don’t want to buy a cheap Ferrari. I’d love to have the means to pick up one of these very special cars, but my dream is no longer to take it to the track to beat up on all of the lesser BMW models. No, in that capacity it would fail miserably. Instead, I’d rather have it as a car that would make me feel very special driving the family to some secluded vacation spot and parking the car within eyeshot so I could take a peek every once in a while and remind myself what a very neat car this is.


1993 BMW “M550CSi” – M5 with S70 V12 6-speed swap


In my post about last week’s 2JZ swapped M5 many questioned why you would go through the expense and difficulty of swapping in the Toyota unit, or at least that it was downright sacrilegious to do so. Perhaps I have a looser sense of how to do things the proper way, but I certainly can recognize that the 2JZ unit is capable of higher levels of power than the original S62 V8 was for less money, and that at least makes some sense to me even if I wouldn’t do it. When I first came across today’s E34 M5, I was initially struck with awe, but as I’ve sat wondering what to write up about this car, that awe has slowly turned to a bit more confusion. The reason why is fairly straightforward – some enterprising individual has taken a quite nice Euro-market E34 M5 (great start) and swapped in the equally great S70B56 V12 from a 850CSi along with a 6 speed manual transmission. Take a look for yourself at this monster:


Year: 1993
Model: M5
Engine: 5.6 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 76,000 mi
Price: $20,000

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M5 S70 swap on Willz.Ca

Model: 1993 European M5 chassis
Chassis: WBSHC91090GD63011
Build Date: June 1992
Mileage: 76,000 miles
Colour: Black
Motor: 5.6L 850 CSi engine (S70B56) conversion
Interior: black leather mechanical sports seats, leather stitched center console and door skins
Transmission: new 6 speed manual
Traction Control:
Brakes Front: 2-piece, 355 (14″) rotors UUC 4 piston aluminum calipers
Brakes Rear: vented 328mm (12.9″) rotors
Wheels: 17 x 8 forged system II
Tires: 235-45 and 275-40 Dunlop Sport 5000
Features: front strut bar, HR springs, uprated sway bars, UUC short shifter, Eisenman stainless exhaust, in dash CD
Options: single air bag, ABS, rear deck wing, rear window shades, E code headlights, clear blinkers, Motorsport door handles
Comments: Hand built custom driveline by Brett Anderson from Koala Motorsport, Cleveland OH. Sold and registered as 1993. Self-leveling not removed – still functional. New EDC shocks all ’round. Quaife LSD.

As I said, initially I thought “Holy beep that is awesome!”; seeing that monster V12 in a real M car is sort of like 1995 got all sorts of better. But then I sat on it and thought about it some more, and came away confused. The S38 is a pretty strong motor and this car didn’t have many miles when it was yanked from what I can tell, so there’s that question. Then, the replacement motor is that awesome 5.6 V12. Well, at least it was awesome in 1995, but my main question comes from the result. That V12 is effectively two inline 6s, meaning you have double of nearly everything in the engine bay. On a 20 year old car, that’s not always a good thing – especially those early computers, which seem to have hiccups.

Then there is the second main question when you look at the performance. Sure, the S70 has a healthy bump of torque over the S38, but only 70 horsepower more than even the lowly 3.5 – bump up to the optional 3.8, and those numbers are closer. Then there’s the question of availability; it’s not like the S70 is a cheap motor to come by, so this was intentionally done at great expense. Further, unlike the all-aluminum M73, the M70-based S70 has a big old iron block, so you’re throwing off the balance some. While I have no doubt this car is a blast to drive and looks fantastic, I am left scratching my head a bit. Still, like the Supra-powered E39, I’m happy that someone went through the effort and created what would have been the ultimate handbuilt M-car. And it can all be yours for less than the price of most E39 Ms…


Wednesday Wheels: The Best For Your BMW

We’re going to try out another new feature we’re going to call “Wednesday Wheels” here at If you’re like us, you have a passion for all aspects of cars, and one of the favorite items to change, replace or refinish are a car’s wheels. Today we’re going to bring you a few sets to dress up your BMW. We’ll start with some M-System 2 wheels from a 1993 M5, often called “Throwing Stars”. These arrived on the M5, the M540i, and the 850CSi but look good on many of the early 1990s BMWs. Got an E34 and looking for a set of wheels to dress it up? These might just be the ticket – light weight, the right OEM look, with decent looking tires and freshly refinished, this package looks like a pretty decent deal for some high quality and rare wheels:

Year: 1993
Model: M-System 2 “Throwing Stars”
Diameter: 17″
Width: 8″
Bolt Pattern: 5 x 120
Offset: ET 20
Condition: Refinished
Tires: Included Federal Super Steel 595 235-45-17
Price: $1,899 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 M-System 2 on eBay

I have for sale a spare set of OEM BMW 17″ M System II Throwing Star wheels that were removed from my 1993 BMW M5. The size of the wheels is 17″ x 8″. The wheels were completely refinished professionally by the local wheel shop The lips were machined and clear coated. The centers and inner barrel were painted in OE black paint. The throwing star covers were stripped down to the bare metal and repainted in the original silver finish and clear coated. I also removed the old fading center roundel stickers and replaced them with new OEM stickers. The wheels are perfectly true and balanced. There are NO bends, dents or cracks. It was a perfectly good original set that needed some refreshing.

Contact for Shipping rates to your home or business

Items sold as pictured There are no returns, exchanges or refunds. There is no warranty on any of the items, written or implied.
The item you see pictured in this listing is the exact item you will receive.

Have an E24, E12, or E28 and looking to dress it up a bit? One of the most popular wheel designs on these cars are the black-centered Alpina wheels. The staggered look fits these cars well and they are highly sought after. While replicas are available, today we found a refinished set of originals. Though not shown the seller will include center caps:

Year: N/A
Model: Alpina
Diameter: 16″
Width: 7″ front, 8″ rear
Bolt Pattern: 5 x 120
Offset: ET 11 front, ET 24 rear
Condition: Refinished
Tires: Not Included
Price: $2,850 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Alpina Staggered Wheels on eBay

This is a set that I had refinished. They are genuine Alpina Wheels, staggered with the fronts measuring 16×7 inches and the rears 16×8 inches. The front wheels have an offset of et11 and the rears et24. They are stamped 7Jx16h2 and 8jx16h2 and have a bolt pattern of 5×120. These wheels fit the following BMW’s: E3 Bavaria, E9 2800cs, 3.0cs, 3.0csi, and 3.0csl, e12, e24, e28, e34. You will need to confirm fitment for any other model other than what is listed. These wheels are used, they have been straightened as needed and refinished. I will include a set of center caps with the sale. I am willing to ship within the continental US (48 states) at the buyers expense. I will carefully package the wheels and ship them either via FedEx, UPS, or USPS. I will also accept local pick up. The wheels are located in Costa Mesa California. Please do not bid if you do not intend to honor your bid. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I will try to answer your questions promptly. BMW e9 coupe e12 528i 530i 520i m535 e24 628csi 630csi 633csi 635csi m6 bavaria alpina b9 b7 turbo e28 528e 528i 533i 535i 535is m5 e34 525i 540i hartge bbs ronal

If you’re more into the late 80s and early 90s, Hartge wheels might be your favorite. This particular set is made by OZ Racing and would look spectacular on an E28 M5 or E30 M3. While very pricey, they’re also very rare, so you’re not likely to see another set cruising down the road:

Year: N/A
Model: Hartge (OZ)
Diameter: 17″
Width: 8.5″ front, 9.5″ rear
Bolt Pattern: 5 x 120
Offset: not specified
Condition: Refinished
Tires: Not Included
Price: Auction, $3,199 Opening Bid

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Hartge Staggered Wheels on eBay

Up for auction are my super rare Hartge wheels,sized:

8.5×17(front) and 9.5×17(rear)

The wheels are original 3-pice Hartge wheels made by OZ Racing, made in W. Germany.

The wheels are used but in great condtion, no crub crash dents or other.
Of course thrue and correct.

The wheels sold only in the Europan marked on the Hartge e34 H35-24 or e30 H35-24.

Will fit to all BMWs with 5-bolt pattern:

E23 ( 728 728i 728iS 730 732i 733i 735i 745i )

E24 ( 628CSi 630CS 630CSi 633CSi 635CSi M6 M635CSi )

E28 ( 518 518i 520i 524d 524td 525e 525i 528e 528i 533i 535i M5 M535i ) E30 M3

E31 ( 840Ci 840i 850CSi 850Ci 850Ci 850i )

E32 ( 730i 735i 735iL 740i 740iL 750i 750iL )

E34 ( 518i 520i 524td 525i 525ix 525td 530i 535i 540i M5 3.6 M5 3.8 )

E36 (316i 318i 318is 320i 323i 325i 328i M3 M3 3.2)


“Sold As is”

Lastly, if you’re on a bit more of a budget, sometimes OEM wheels are a better option for you. These Style 19 OEM 540i Sport wheels aren’t as popular as the Style 5s we often see on everyone’s hit list, but the 19s are also BBS built and if properly refinished, can look spectacular. I’ve seen them on everything for 850s to 318s, and I still think they look sharp. These are not refinished and perfect, but the price reflects that. These would be great driving wheels or good candidates for a refinish project and would dress up a non-sport E39 or return it to original spec. A big bonus is the free shipping, often a costly item on wheels EDIT: these wheels sold just as we went to press. We’ll keep an eye out for more!:

Year: 1998-1999
Model: Style 19 (BBS)
Diameter: 17″
Width: 8″
Bolt Pattern: 5 x 120
Offset: ET 20
Condition: Used
Tires: Not Included
Price: $429 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: BMW OEM Style 19 Wheels on eBay

This is for four (4) rims – sold as a set. Fast Free Shipping to the US – email me for international rates. Rims are original OEM BMW – markings on inside state 8Jx17H2 IS20.

I’m glad to check any other specs on the rims before you purchase. They have some curb scuffs – will likely need to be reconditioned if you are concerned about these sorts of things – but even if you spend another $80 per rim on reconditioning, this would still be a considerable savings from buying these from other vendors.

Glad to answer any questions or feel free to call/text me at 410-340-6215.

Which are your favorite, and what would you like to see?