BMW 530i/540i V8 E34 (1992 – 1995), the best of the 5 Series at its peak, from € 10,000

What are collectables?

These are cars of particular interest, so deserve to be preserved. They don’t have to be old, however they are in the set quantity, because the manufacturer has decided on it, or because their production has stopped. Then, they take advantage of the features that make them more desirable: an engine, a chassis, a design, or a concept. In the end, they are likely to see an increase in their rating. One more argument to collect them in front of everyone!

Why would the BMW 540i E34 be collected?

The E34 is probably the last 5 Series to highlight that classic, pure beauty that we love so much at BMW. Many versions exist, but apart from the now very expensive M5, the 530i and 540i with V8 M60 are certainly the most sought after by collectors, thanks to their unique engine, the Bavarian 1 V8 of modern times. Beautiful, well -made, ergonomic and efficient, this 5 Series, especially the 540i, are the perfect elixirs of BMW classics.

At the end of 1986, the huge BMW 7 Series E32 amazed observers with its brilliant update to BMW styling. Its main aesthetic lines, largely due to Italian designer Ercole Spada, were then moved to a smaller scale when the Series 5 E34 appeared at the end of 1987. Surprise, the result was more attractive than the Series 7, the 5 signal through better and a perfect balance of volumes.

In addition, this visual seduction is accompanied by a very high aerodynamic efficiency, the Cx coming out of 0.29. Under the hood, there are excellent Bavarian 6-cylinders, some of which, however, lack power due to the car’s high weight and the length of the final gear.

The fluid, fine and elegant lines for the BMW 5 Series E34, here is a 535i at the end of 1987.

The manufacturer gradually solved this problem, first by adopting 24-valve cylinder heads in 1989, then by installing a new V8 in 1992. Coded M60, it is distinguished by its 4 shafts. overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder. Two variants are offered, the 3.0 l at 218 hp (530i) and the 4.0 l at 286 hp (540i). Both are used to choose a very good 6-speed manual gearbox, a weather unique, or a 5-speed ZF automatic. Devilily attractive, the 5 Series has become even more attractive with these engines, especially the 4.0 l.

When they came out in 1992, the 530i and 540i V8 were distinguished by their grille, the double kidney expanded.
When they came out in 1992, the 530i and 540i V8 were distinguished by their grille, the double kidney expanded.

Apparently, these V8 variants are extremely expensive, the 540i for example costing 375,000 F in 1993 (now € 83,800 according to INSEE). At this price, you are entitled to air conditioning (manual), leather upholstery and electrically adjustable steering column, wooden siding, on-board computer, alloy wheels, airbag, cruise control, or even disconnectable ASC+T traction control.

Keep in mind, though, that this 540i remains less expensive than the Audi S4, Mercedes E 420 and… Renault Safrane Biturbo! Surprise, we can also afford this BMW in the Touring station wagon. In 1994, the 530i and 540i were already on the Worldline, with improved equipment, before the new generation of the 5 Series, the E39 presented in the summer of 1995.

Always a watchful line for the 540i, whose performance remains beyond doubt.  A perfect one
Always a watchful line for the 540i, whose performance remains beyond doubt. A perfect “sleeper” as they say …

How much does it cost?

Prices have seriously gone up, so it takes € 10,000 for a healthy copy but flirting with 300,000 km. At 12,000 €, we started looking for some who fell below 200,000 km, while those who stayed within 100,000 km already claimed 18,000 €. To these amounts, you can add € 2,000 for a Tour station cart.

The BMW 5 Series E34 always surprises with its perfect proportions, with no weight.
The BMW 5 Series E34 always surprises with its perfect proportions, with no weight.

Which version to choose?

Due to its compatibility, the manual 6 box is a must, but it is very unique. Fortunately, the ZF automatic provides the change.

The 530i and 540i E34 are available in a very elegant Touring station wagon, which can be upgraded with a double sunroof, as well as a pivoting rear window.
The 530i and 540i E34 are available in a very elegant Touring station wagon, which can be upgraded with a double sunroof, as well as a pivoting rear window.

Collector versions

Already, these are copies in completely original condition, i.e. not lowered or equipped with rims that are not quite as crazy. Then, if you can find a good option Touring station wagon that is less than 100,000 km and has a mechanical gearbox, you can play the lottery because this kind of suppression is rare.

By itself, the V8 M60 of the 530i and 540i has proven to be very robust.
By itself, the V8 M60 of the 530i and 540i has proven to be very robust.

What is the watchtower?

Amazingly made, the BMW E34 is now old and can be attacked by rust. Take a good look at rocker panels, doors and floors. In models equipped with a leveling corrector, this one can be tripled, and its repair is expensive. Electronics and electricity make them too. Also in the passenger compartment, the headliner collapses into several units, and the dashboard can be turned upside down after several decades of sun.

Mechanically, the engine and gearboxes are much stronger, if they are well maintained. 400,000 kilometers is only a short distance away. Watch for oil and coolant leaks. The suspension, due to the weight of the car, suffers a lot, so it needs to be checked carefully.

Overall, if taken care of, the 530i and 540i are exceptionally durable cars.

The V8 of the BMW 540i does wonders on the road, the chassis is small even if it stays very balanced.
The V8 of the BMW 540i does wonders on the road, the chassis is small even if it stays very balanced.

DRIVE

It’s always been a great pleasure to find a BMW dashboard from the big time. Very unique typical design, quality materials, flawless ergonomics… But why don’t they succeed anymore? We were very well installed in a seat with impeccable maintenance, we enjoyed an impeccable driving position, and we happily woke up to the 4.0 l V8. That seems necessary!

Incredibly soft and supple, it is accompanied here by an equally creamy automatic gearbox. With the relatively steady direction and the allowable suspension, we got a great deal of pleasure in driving. A fortiori when we put our feet up. The transmission downshift is a bit slow, but then the engine forces you to the seat and storms into the red zone with an impressive explosion. What a mechanic!

Beautiful dashboard, in BMW’s purest tradition for the 540i, here in 1993.
Beautiful dashboard, in BMW’s purest tradition for the 540i, here in 1993.

If the suspension provides good comfort, reinforced with excellent soundproofing, the road character is older. Truly healthy and safe, it suffers from a certain inaccuracy in the direction of a straight line and a lack of motivation to turn. In addition, in the wet, despite controlling traction, it is necessary to accelerate again from the curves with caution. Fortunately, braking can convince his power, if not his endurance.

On average, the 540i is less selfish, oscillating between 10 and 12 l/100 km when driving reasonably.

The youngtimer alternative

BMW M535i E12 (1984 – 1987)

It is difficult to distinguish a BMW M535i E28 from an M5 on the outside, The inscription on the grille is the main indication… Here, in 1984.
It is difficult to distinguish a BMW M535i E28 from an M5 on the outside, The inscription on the grille is the main indication… Here, in 1984.

If you can’t afford an E28 M5, you can always go back to the M535i, which has the same look (with the M-Technic pack) but is equipped with smarter mechanics. If under the cover still sits a 6-in-line 3.5 l, it stays at 218 hp, which is more than enough to enjoy, with more than 220 km / h peak.

Especially with the inverted 1-speed sports box and the self-locking axle. Equipped with hardened M-Technic running gear, the M535i exhibits a nice efficiency, in any case higher than the normal 535i, powered by TRX wheels. And to be assured, I have ABS. Rarely, this variant of the 5 Series E28 has seen a serious increase in its rating. From € 25,000.

Very average back room for the BMW 540i E34, but what an atmosphere!
Very average back room for the BMW 540i E34, but what an atmosphere!

BMW 540i E34 (1993), the technical sheet

  • Engine: 8-cylinder V, 3,982 cc
  • power supply: electronic injection
  • Suspension: McPherson struts, coil spring, anti-roll bar (AV); multi-link axle, coil springs anti-roll bar (rear)
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • Power: 286 hp at 5,800 rpm
  • Torque: 400 Nm at 4,500 rpm
  • Weight: 1,650 kg
  • Top speed: 240 km/h (factory data)
  • 0 to 100 km/h: 6.8 s (factory data)

To find a used BMW 5 Series, go to the La Centrale website

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