A quick trip to BMW’s USA sales website makes me pine for a time when a “kidney grill” wasn’t a grotesque polygonal shaped icon that exemplifies the corpulence of the modern era. The twin kidney shape was a decorative throwback to first BMW grill and not a predator mouth shaped abomination. There was a time […]
u won’t have automatic lane departure warning buzzards (I’m not sure why you’d want a buzzard to peck at your neck when you change lanes without a blinker, but I hear they are friendly birds if treated properly and only molt twice a year) and self aspirating seats (“You can’t never take wound care too seriously” — said the spokeswoman from Toyota at the last year’s Detroit Auto Show) but imagine driving a 30 year old car in 1970. That would have been a 1940 car. Or even driving a 30 year old car in the year 2000 — a 1970 Torino would have been nuts to daily drive in 1999…but you could easily drive this next car every day and not have people calling the cops on you. Find this 1990 BMW 535i offered for $6,000 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist.
If you see a 90s vintage BMW 5-series with a 30i suffix on the badge you might assume it has one of BMW’s sweet sounding 3ish liter inline sixes…but you’d be wrong. For the E34 generation of BMW’s 5-series they started with the 530i with a M30 inline-6 in 1988, but in 1992 they changed over to a 3.0 liter M60 V8. That’s right in 1992 you could get a 535i with a inline-6 making 208 horsepower and 225 ft-lbs of torque or a 530i with a V8 making 215 horsepower and 214 ft-lbs of torque. The M60B30 was a small displacement version of the M60B40 found in the 540i and with a 3.31inch bore and 2.66 inch stroke and 10.5:1 compression ratio it should been capable of making lots of power, but it was under cammed and held back from the factory with a 6500 rpm rev limiter. Here is what you need to do –take the engine apart, coat every rotating component with space age coatings and get a custom ground cam (or four) and some fancy valve springs — open the exhaust and revv it to 8900 rpm. Boom — screaming V8 that nobody else has — and today’s example is one of the few 5-speed equipped 530is I’ve ever seen. Find this 1995 BMW 530i offered for $3,500 in Franklin Hills, CA via craigslist.
Prices of the E34 M5 have risen in the past few years, probably because people figured out that these were fast, fun, rare, and worth saving because sites like DailyTurismo sung their praises (our own CFlo owned one for a few years and loved it) but I don’t think we should take all the blame for the rapid price appreciation. Much of it goes to the fact that new cars are so artificial and the E34 M5 is purposefully analog in its application of speed. It is like driving a big American muscle car that feels tight in the turns. Strange experience, but worth the entry price on this next one. Find this 1991 BMW M5 E34 offered for $12,500 in New York, NY via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
With the Olympics about to happen in Tokyo (are they the 2020 Olympics or the 2021 Olympics, not sure) it seems appropriate to get into some of the Olympic spirit. We’ve featured a few oddball Olympic specials before, like the 72 Ford Mustang Olympic Sprint, and the 84 Buick Century Olympic Edition, but this next car is a rare one. It is one of 500 special BMW 5-series built for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. This wasn’t a sprinter, as the 525i Olympic version included badges on the glovebox and door sills, green pinstriping on the parchment tan seats and headrests that matches the Oxford Green Metallic exterior. Find this 1995 BMW 525i Olympic Edition offered for $5,500 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
This next car is close enough from a cosmetic and performance perspective that only you’ll know it isn’t an M5. It was born from the factory as a 525i, but someone put an S52 from a 1999 M3 under the hood, big (but not too big) wheels and some valence/bumper pieces to make it more M5ish. The end result is a car that’ll be only a skosh slower than a real M5. And maybe with the lighter M3 engine/gearbox, it might hang with an original S38 equipped true M5, but it will certainly be cheaper to maintain and insure. This isn’t like a $50 Faux-Rolex, this is more like a $500 Faux-Rolex. Is that so bad? Find this 1995 BMW M5 Clone offered for $13,995 in Phoenix, AZ via eBay.
The e34 generation BMW 5-series (1987-1996) is one of those cars that is new enough to not feel like driving a ’57 Chevy but old enough to not be stuffed with electronic nannies, stupid autotragic gearboxes, and hideous styling. Obviously, the one to own is the screaming inline-6 powered M5 version, but the price of entry is high and price of any failure is…well…yikes. I had an E34 M5 for a short period of time (and CFlo had the car for longer) and discovered that things like transmission parts were made from unobtanium. So, if the M5 is too risky (and pricey) but you want the M5 performance, you should get a 540i and supercharge it to 400 horsepower…just make sure it is 6-speed version…oh hey; Find this 1995 BMW 540i offered for $9,900 in Renton, WA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
BMW wagon owners always complain that BWM didn’t export their best engine/transmission options into their wagons for the US market — and it’s true! The E34 5-series had a V8 and a 6-speed option, but it was never available together on the wagon…perhaps because they assumed wagon owners were family men/women who wanted to just cruise. Anyway, if you want the wagon and you want to have fun, you’ll need to find one that has been modified like this next beast, which is now powered by an E36 M3 drivetrain. Find this 1993 BMW 524iT with S52 inline-6 swap bidding for $5,000 in Burlington, VT via eBay. Tip from Cory.
I feel the need for a manual gearbox equipped European sport sedan…and I want it big enough for a family. And don’t give me some domesticated import that has had its European mystique neutered, I need something without airbags, that only shows kilometers on the speedo, is grey market and unregister-able in California. Oh. Here. […]
This next car checks the all boxes; manual gearbox, check. Wagon, check. Inline-6, check. Rear-wheel-drive, check. Headliner…errr…that’s missing….and the miles are high, so you will need to do some tidying before you let the wife drive it…but manual transmission rear-drive wagons don’t grow on trees. Find this 1992 BMW 525iT offered for $6500 in Long Beach, […]