Price: SOLD | Visit the Bring a Trailer Auction
Mileage: 63,200 Miles
Engine: S38B36 In-Line 6-Cylinder Engine
Transmission: 5-Speed G280 Transmission
Exterior color: Alpine White II Exterior (218)
Interior: Light Silver-Grey Leather Interior (0438)
CM5903 BMW Stereo
Lightly Tinted Windows
Two-Tone Black Lower Trim
Operational SLS Suspension
Enlarged Exhaust Tips
Rear Cargo Net
Carpet BMW Floor Mats
Style 20 17” BMW M System Wheels
Turbine and Throwing Star Covers
Fresh Continental Extreme Contact Tires
Recent Head and Timing Component Rebuild
The E34 was the end of an era for the BMW M5. It was the last hand-built M5, assembled by the same M GmbH technicians from start to finish once taken to Garching from the normal E34 assembly line in Dingolfing. It was the last 6-cylinder S38-powered BMW, an engine based directly on the fire-breathing, high revving, high compression, individual throttle-bodied architecture that helped BMW dominate Motorsport for the previous two decades. It was the last M5 to retain the classic and iconic 3-box BMW design language—and the best evolution of it in this enthusiast’s opinion. Currently, it is one of the best buys in the classic BMW market. The population of clean E34 M5s is likely smaller than its predecessor the E28 M5, even though more E34s were produced (1,239 E28 US examples vs 1,484) because most E34s had the wheels driven off of them—literally in some cases. Better yet, a sorted E34 M5 can be had for half of the price of a proportionally sorted E28 and is a better car in virtually every way without giving up any of the classic BMW experience.
This 1991 E34 M5 is one of those properly sorted examples. It comes with extensive documentation, including the original window sticker. The records show regular oil changes and frequent services. Its build date was May 27, 1991 and it entered service in September of 1991 after being sold by Century BMW in Greenville, South Carolina. It remained in South Carolina, being serviced by Century BMW, until moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with the second owner in 1997. That owner maintained it as the first had done using an independent BMW specialist. In early 2003 it moved to Georgia with the third owner, being maintained by Bavarian Motor Sports. In December of 2004 it came to Colorado with the fourth owner, where it has remained ever since. In preparation for that sale it received a pre-purchase inspection stating that it was in near-perfect condition. It stayed with that owner for the next eleven years, being driven sparingly, but regularly, acquiring less than ten thousand miles in over a decade. In 2015 a friend of the family purchased it and had the head rebuilt due to a failed cam retainer. The work included steam cleaning and resurfacing the head, a valve job, timing chain tensioner, headgasket set, spark plugs, distributor cap and rotor, and a coolant flush. The work was completed by a good friend of mine who has rebuilt many S38B36 engines. At this time the brake pads and rear pitman arms were also replaced.
I am selling it on consignment for the current owner. In preparation for sale we gave it a thorough pre-purchase inspection, changed the transmission and differential oils, flushed the brake fluid, and gave it a fresh oil change using Brad Penn 20W-50 oil. We also treated it to an interior and exterior detail. The paint presents extremely well and the leather is supple. When it came to me the original M System wheels had been replaced with Borbets, likely back when we all liked aftermarket wheels over stock wheels on E34s—at least they were Borbets! Thankfully, times have changed and I have sourced a correct set of M System wheels with both Turbine and Throwing Star covers. They are the 17 by 8-inch non-staggered cast Style 20 M Systems that came with 1991 US-spec M5s. I had the wheels checked and corrected if need be for trueness and had them re-finished in the correct BMW silver, along with both sets of covers, by Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver, Colorado. The turbine covers and underlying turbine fans are currently mounted, but the Throwing Star covers come with fresh OEM center caps and are pictured on our website—I am happy to retain these in my personal inventory if you don’t want them! I also mounted fresh Continental Extreme Contact tires, at present they have less than one hundred miles on them. The only modifications are a BMW armrest, heckblende between the rear tail lights, larger exhaust tips on the factory muffler, lightly tinted windows, and clear bra on the front bumper and leading edge of the hood. The Carfax is clean, as is the Colorado title. I would describe the M5’s condition as still being nearly perfect; a more in depth description follows below.
The Alpine White II paint is in excellent and presents fantastically. It has clearly always been stored indoors and spared exposure to harsh weather conditions. The paint is all original, gauging at an average of 3 to 4 mils (a paint gauge report is included in the pictures). The finish is glossy and brilliant. There are no glaring defects, but close inspection does reveal a few minor paint chips on the lower front spoiler, a scuff on the driver’s side mirror, a scratch on the passenger side rear quarter panel, and another on the trunk lid (pics are on our website if you are reading this elsewhere). There is light scuffing on the underside of the front and rear valances, but you cannot see them with the car on the ground. The front bumper cover, lower edges of the hood and fenders, mirrors, and lower rear wheel arches are protected by clear bra. There is a receipt for this from 2007, and the clear bra is slightly yellow—slightly. All body panels are original and all VIN tags are in place. There is no rust; all common E34 areas are clean, including the lower door trim strips. All trim is in place, including the M5-specific bits. An aftermarket heckblende is fitted between the tail lights. The windshield glass is crack-free with only minor pitting and two small chips. The side and rear window glass are lightly tinted and in excellent shape. The headlights lenses are crack-free, as are the fog lights, indicators, markers, and brake light lenses. The M System wheels are straight and true and with zero curb rash. I had them media blasted and painted, not powdercoated. There are two small blemishes on the barrels on two wheels. The outer lip and both sets of covers are finished in the correct BMW silver, the underlying faces are the correct black. The inner barrels and underlying turbine fans are also finished in silver, they were originally black; but you can’t see these areas with the covers installed. The Continental Extreme Contact tires are freshly mounted with less than 100 miles on them.
The interior is likewise in excellent condition. There are no odors and it has never been smoked in. The carpet is free of stains and tears, and is protected by carpet floor mats. The headliner does not sag and the rear parcel tray fabric is not wrinkled. The leather seats are in excellent shape; with no significant wear areas on the seat bottom or backrest bolsters. There is minor wear on the outside driver’s bolster. The power seat adjustments work as they should and there is no seat twist. The rear seats are optioned with adjustable headrests, a center arm rest, and ski pass-through. The rear seat leather is also fantastic, with a small scuff on the center bottom cushion and right rear seat base being the only imperfections. The dashboard is crack-free and the center vent cover is not warped. All dashboard and center console leather is in very good shape with no failed stitching. The 4-spoke M steering wheel is also in excellent shape. The instrument cluster has no failed bulbs or pixels and shows no warning or SRS lights. The onboard computer functions correctly and shows no check items. The HVAC control panel works as it should, the heat blows warm and the AC is R12 and blows ice cold. The original CM5903 stereo was replaced with another CM5903 Stereo. It has no failed pixels, but the backlighting is dim. The volume knob rheostat is slightly scratchy and the antenna reception can be intermittent. The extended leather shifter surround has very slight shrinkage at the aft edge, but I am being nitpicky. All switches, power windows, the sunroof, keyless entry, and door locks work correctly. A factory BMW matching silver leather folding armrest is installed and is great for long drives. The trunk carpet has no discoloration and an M System spare tire is present, along with a cargo net. The tool kit is complete and two keys are included with the sale. Both keyless remotes are also included and wrapped in BMW leather cases—an excellent touch! The owner’s manual is missing, but one can be sourced easily.
This is a turn-key M5 that needs nothing. I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it across country or make it my daily driver. The list of recent maintenance is outlined in the summary paragraph.
The S38 fires on command, idles smoothly, and pulls strongly to redline. There is no timing chain or valvetrain rattle and the timing components have been recently replaced. When I pulled the under covers there was evidence of previous oil leaks on the covers, but nothing since the recent engine work. The oil pan and gearbox are dry. It is an S38 though, so it will leak again at some point. The clutch take up is correct, the shifter is crisp, and the gearbox shifts smoothly. There are no driveline or wheel bearing vibrations, the suspension is firm, but compliant, and the brakes are strong. The front and rear brake pads and rotors were all recently and have plenty of life left. The SLS lines look to have been replaced at some point, they are definitely not original. There is evidence of a previous SLS leak on the exhaust, but it was in the distant past. The left SLS shock body has slight sweat at the seals, but it is not in need of near term replacement. When that time comes, if you would like to delete the SLS I have a set of lightly used Bilstein shocks I am willing to include for cheap.
This M5 is a time capsule. It is an outlier, stock, low-mileage example in an increasingly aging population. It has enough imperfections that it can be enjoyed without guilt, but presents fantastically thanks to excellent stewardship by its prevous owners. E34 M5s have not undergone the stratosphereic appreciation that their predesessor M cars have, but they are poised to do so, thanks to that old-school BMW recipe that the E34 still delivers—that said from an E34 M5 owner. There is no better buy in the classic BMW market than the E34, and we would like to find a new owner for this one who will appreciate and care for it for the next chapter of its life.