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Yesterday I wrote up a very clean ’94 525i Touring for sale here in California with only 76,000 miles on the clock. Right after I save that piece I ran another search for E34 wagons and came across this example for sale in Waco, Texas. Though it is the same color, it differs in a number of ways from the first car and I thought it would make for an interesting would you rather sort of question to round out my Wagon Week posts.
More often than not I have trouble deciding between two cars that are very similar vs. ones that are very different. Throughout the course of my recent car shopping adventures I’ve looked at everything from the new M235i to a 911 SC Targa, the latter mostly just out of pure curiosity, lord knows I can’t afford one. However now that I’ve narrowed my search down to 5 different cars, all from the same manufacturer and all sharing design traits, I’m finding it even more difficult to make a decision. I think choosing between an old Porsche and a new BMW would have been far easier than choosing either an E34 or E39 5 Series. Harder still would be to choose between the car you see here and the 525i Touring I posted yesterday.
You don’t have to despair if you’ve missed out on the E30 M3 and Porsche 911 market – there are still plenty of alternatives that make great occasional vehicles with enough sport to have fun with and enough presence to make you feel really special. Two of the best coupes from the early 1990s are often overlooked and are still very affordable – the Porsche 968 and the BMW 8 series. Now, truth be told most 968s are out of the “10K” price range, and 850i/Cis are often close in disrepair if they’re at or below $10,000. But if you’re willing to take higher miles on the well-built 968 chassis and opt for the smaller motor in the E31, you can find examples of either that fit a budget. Which would you choose?
Motor swaps are always a lot of fun, especially when someone else has done the heavy lifting. In the case of the E30 platform, it seems there is no end to the different motors that get swapped in. We’ve seen S14 retrofits into 325s, plenty of S50, S52 and even a few S54s pop up. But let’s say you really like torque. And aluminum. What’s an E30 enthusiast to do? Well, of course you could swap a M60 4.0 V8 out of the E34 540i into a 325es. In its original form, the 325es was a bit of a slowpoke good handler looking for more power. The E34 540i was a great motor toting around a fair amount of weight. Couple the two together, and Viola! You make the folks at the local tire depot quite happy. Take a look at this tuned 325: