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

What are collectibles?

These are cars of particular interest that therefore deserve to be preserved. Not necessarily old, they are still available in defined quantities, either because the manufacturer has decided so or because their production has stopped. Then take advantage of the features that make them particularly coveted: an engine, a chassis, a design or a concept. Finally, they are likely to see their rating rise. An extra argument for gathering them before everyone else!

Why is the BMW 540i E34 a collector’s item?

The E34 is perhaps the last 5-Series to have the classic, fine elegance that we have loved so much at BMW. There are many versions, but apart from the now very expensive M5, the 530i and 540i with V8 M60 are definitely the ones collectors will be looking for most because of their remarkable engine, the modern era Bavarian 1 V8. Beautiful, well-made, ergonomic and efficient, these 5 Series, especially the 540i, are the perfect elixirs of classic BMWs.

In late 1986, the big BMW 7 Series E32 surprised observers with its ingenious update of BMW styling. Its main aesthetic lines, mainly due to the Italian designer Ercole Spada, were then translated to a smaller scale when the Series 5 E34 appeared in late 1987. Surprised, the result was even more attractive than the Series 7, the 5’s signaling with greater finesse and a perfect balance between volumes.

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

Fluent, fine and elegant lines for the BMW 5 Series E34, here a 535i in late 1987.

The manufacturer will gradually remedy this problem, first by introducing 24-valve cylinder heads in 1989, then by installing a brand new V8 in 1992. Code M60 distinguishes it by its 4-axle overhead camshafts and 4 valves per. cylinder. Two variants are offered, 3.0 l of 218 hp (530i) and 4.0 l of 286 hp (540i). Both are utilized for the choice of an excellent 6-speed manual gearbox, a rarity at the time, or a 5-speed ZF automatic. Devilishly attractive, the 5 Series becomes directly enticing with these engines, especially the 4.0 L.

When they came out in 1992, the 530i and 540i V8 were characterized by their grid, whose dual kidney was enlarged.
When they came out in 1992, the 530i and 540i V8 were characterized by their grid, whose dual kidney was enlarged.

Clearly, these V8 variants are terribly expensive, e.g. cost 540i 375,000 F in 1993 (current € 83,800 according to INSEE). At this price you are entitled to air conditioning (manual), leather upholstery and electrically adjustable steering column, wood trim, trip computer, alloy wheels, airbag, cruise control or even the interruptible ASC + T traction control.

Note, however, that this 540i remains cheaper than the Audi S4, Mercedes E 420 and … Renault Safrane Biturbo! Surprise, we can also afford these BMWs in Touring station wagons. In 1994, the 530i and 540i were available in the Worldline, with improved equipment, just before making room for a new generation of the 5 Series, the E39 unveiled in the summer of 1995.

Always discreet line to the 540i, whose performance remains unmatched.  A perfect
Always discreet line to the 540i, whose performance remains unmatched. A perfect “sleeper” as they say …

How much does it cost ?

Prices have risen sharply, so it requires € 10,000 for a healthy specimen, but to flirt with 300,000km. At € 12,000, we start to find some that fall below 200,000km, while those who stick to 100,000km already require € 18,000. To these amounts you can add € 2,000 for a Touring station wagon.

The BMW 5 Series E34 always surprises with its perfect proportions, without any weight.
The BMW 5 Series E34 always surprises with its perfect proportions, without any weight.

Which version to choose?

Given its approval, the manual 6-box is a must, but it is extremely rare. Fortunately, the ZF dispenser largely provides the shift.

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

Collector’s versions

In advance, these will be the copies in perfect original condition, that is, not lowered or fitted with rims as disproportionate as they are crazy. So, if you find a well-chosen Touring station wagon with less than 100,000 km and with a mechanical gearbox, you can play the lottery because this type of configuration is so rare.

In itself, the V8 M60 from the 530i and 540i proves to be very robust.
In itself, the V8 M60 from the 530i and 540i proves to be very robust.

What to monitor?

Certainly remarkably manufactured, the BMW E34 is now old and can be attacked by rust. Take a good look at tilting panels, doors and floors. On models equipped with a leveling corrector, this can leak and the repair is expensive. Electronics and electricity do theirs too. Also in the cabin, the ceiling cladding collapses on more and more units, and the dashboard may crack after a few decades of sun.

Mechanically, both the engine and the gearboxes are extremely robust if they are well maintained. The 400,000 km are quite within reach. Keep an eye out for oil and coolant leaks. The suspension, given the weight of the car, suffers a lot, so it needs to be examined carefully.

Overall, the 530i and 540i are remarkably durable cars if cared for.

The V8 of the BMW 540i does wonders on the road, the chassis a bit smaller, although it remains very balanced.
The V8 of the BMW 540i does wonders on the road, the chassis a bit smaller, although it remains very balanced.

Driving

It is always an intense pleasure to find a BMW dashboard from the great era. Very elegant typical design, quality materials, impeccable ergonomics … But why do they not make so successful anymore? We are really well installed in a seat with impeccable maintenance, we enjoy an impeccable driving position, and we are happy to wake up the 4.0 l V8. Which sounds like it should!

Wonderfully soft and supple, it is here accompanied by an equally creamy automatic transmission. With the fairly consistent direction and the tolerant suspension, we achieve an intense driving pleasure. A fortiori if we put our foot down. The gearbox shifts down a bit slowly, but then the engine sticks you in the seat and storms into the red zone with an impressive bang. What mechanics!

Excellent dashboard, in the purest BMW tradition for the 540i, here in 1993.
Excellent dashboard, in the purest BMW tradition for the 540i, here in 1993.

If the suspension provides good comfort, enhanced by the excellent sound insulation, the road behavior is more aged. Admittedly very healthy and safe, it suffers from a certain imprecise direction in a straight line and lack of liveliness in turns. In addition, in the wet, despite traction control, it will be necessary to accelerate out of curves with some caution. Fortunately, the brake is compelling in its power, if not its endurance.

On average, the 540i is not so greedy, and fluctuates between 10 and 12 l / 100 km when driving reasonably.

The Youngtimer option

BMW M535i E12 (1984 – 1987)

Hard to distinguish a BMW M535i E28 from an M5 externally, the inscription on the grille will be the main clue ... Here, in 1984.
Hard to distinguish a BMW M535i E28 from an M5 externally, the inscription on the grille will be the main clue … Here, in 1984.

If you could not afford an E28 M5, you could always fall back on the M535i, with a very similar look (with the M-Technic package), but equipped with smarter mechanics. If there is still a 6-in-row 3.5 l under the bonnet, it sticks to 218 hp, which is already more than enough to have fun, with more than 220 km / h top.

Especially with the inverted 1-speed sports box and the self-locking differential. Equipped with hardened M-Technic running gear, the M535i reveals a great efficiency, at least superior to the normal 535i, which is reinforced by the TRX tires. And to be reassured, we even have an ABS. Very rarely does this variant of the 5 Series E28 see its rating seriously increase. From € 25,000.

Very average spaciousness at the rear for the BMW 540i E34, but what an atmosphere!
Very average spaciousness at the rear for the BMW 540i E34, but what an atmosphere!

BMW 540i E34 (1993), the technical magazine

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

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

Leave a Comment