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Mileage: 126,500 Miles
Engine: M60B40 V8 Engine
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual Getrag 420G D-Type Transmission
Exterior color: Avus Blue Individual Metallic Exterior (276)
Interior: Light Silver-Grey Bison Leather Interior (L4SH)
M540i Carbon Fiber Trim w/ Red Effect
Number 18 of 32 Canadian Market M540i Examples Produced
1 of 3 in Avus Blue Metallic
Dinan Performance Chip
Individual Carbon Fiber Interior Trim
M Pedal Covers
Koni Yellow Sport Strut Inserts in Place of the M EDC
Racing Dynamics Front and Rear Sway Bars
Euro Perforated Leather Sport Steering Wheel
Pioneer DEH-150MP Stereo with Aux Input and Bluetooth
Headlight Washer System
Power Telescoping Steering Column
Power / Heated Sport Seats
Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
Fully Federalized Canadian Market Car
Canadian Market M540i Limited Individual Options:
BMW Individual Number Plaque (#18 / 32)
Matching Number Plaque Hurricane Cloth Owner’s Manual Booklet
Avus Blue Metallic Special Finish
Color Matched M-Technic Spoiler Package (front spoiler, rear apron)
(Euro) M5 Mirrors Color Matched
M5 Illuminated Gear Shift Knob
Expanded Leather / Carbon Fiber Trim with Red Effect
Aperture Entry with M Symbol (M, not M5)
18” x 8” Front, 18” x 9” Rear Style 37 M Parallel Wheels
M5 Compound Floating Rotor Front Brakes
M-Technic Leather Steering Wheel with Airbag
Increased Vmax (top speed) of 250 kph (155 mph)
The 1995 Canadian Market M540i was the closest thing to a European-spec E34 M5 to ever be sold on this side of the Atlantic. It is arguably more of an M5 than the actual US-spec M5 that was discontinued in 1993—and certainly more rare. Only 32 examples were produced (compared to 1,678 total US M5s).
To make the Canadian M540i, BMW M GmbH pulled an already US market certified 540i 6-speed off of the Dingolfing assembly line and added all of the European M5 bits that we never got on this continent. This included Nuremburg Package, which consisted of the Adaptive M Suspension, 20mm lower ride height, 25% firmer shocks, self leveling rear shocks, larger sway bars, and adjustable rear toe. It got the quicker M5 steering rack, Europe-only 345mm two piece floating brake rotors, and E34 M5 Euro 18 x 8 inch front and 18 x 9 inch rear M Parallel wheels. The body was outfitted with a paint-matched M-Technic front spoiler and rear apron, chrome exhaust tips, M Aerodynamic mirrors, Shadowline trim, and special badging. Inside, the treatment continued with cloth or Bison leather, carbon fiber trim, an illuminated M shift knob, an M steering wheel, M doorsills, and an individual number plaque. It also included all of the Canadian market bits that we never got south of the border, like clear indicator lenses and headlight washers.
It was powered by the M60B40 540i engine, an all-aluminum V8 that produces 282 horsepower (29 less than the S38B36 engine in the US spec M5), but it makes up for that by producing exactly 29 more foot-pounds of torque—295 foot-pounds vs. the M5’s 266 foot-pounds. And torque is what you feel. That power is routed through a 6-speed manual Getrag 420G gearbox, an option never available in the US spec M5.
In researching Canadian M540i’s I discovered that 3 of the 32 have been confirmed as parted out. How many are still driving or rusted away north of the border remains to be seen, but I have not found another example publicly listed since this one was sold back in 2012. There are 16 registered in M Registry. They are rare—very rare.
This Canadian Market M540i is number 18 of 32, and is 1 of only 3 finished in Avus Blue Metallic. It was imported to California in 2000 and was fully federalized to US standards. It comes with a letter from BMW North America stating that once the speedometer and odometer are converted to miles (which they were), it meets all federal safety and emissions standards, including California. There is also a California emissions compliance sticker below the door jam VIN sticker. Since coming to the US it has only been owned by fanatically meticulous E34 enthusiasts. The only modifications from stock are a Dinan performance chip, Racing Dynamics front and rear sway bars, Koni Yellow Sport shocks in place of the problematic M EDC, and a Pioneer stereo. I will include a BMW CD43 head unit for $300 extra if the buyer wants to go with a factory correct upgrade. All other M540i bits are in place, including the 345mm Euro floating front brakes. It was optioned with the desirable limited slip differential in place of the ASC-T traction control (which came with an open diff). I have the sale paperwork from both US owners and a print out of the BMW data sheet in German. Maintenance records dating back to 2000 are included with the sale. The records include periodic compression and leak down tests, which have all shown a very healthy engine. At 120k miles it received a major service including the valley pan, intake manifold, and valve cover gaskets. In preparation for sale we replaced the rear main seal, gearbox seals, and shifter bushings. We replaced a cracked lower front splitter with a front bumper cover / valence unit sourced from BMW. While we were at it, we also repainted the front panel that surrounds the kidney grills and lower headlights. As a result, the M540i is a stunning example and a turn-key car ready to be enjoyed by its new owner. Comprehensive exterior, interior, and mechanics descriptions are below.
The E34 5 Series was the most advanced of the traditional BMWs, both in form and function. Its iconic BMW 3-box design language was more refined than its E28 predecessor, yet still traditional compared to the E39 that followed. BMW described it as “Sophisticated styling that is aerodynamic while in motion, and admired when parked.” It also said, “The more cars the world makes, the more desirable the BMW 5 Series becomes.” The successive two decades have revealed those words to be true, as modern cars have become bloated, numb, infotainment-centric appliances. Simply put, the E34 is one of the best looking and best driving 5 Series of all time.
And then there is this Canadian Market M540i. The M540i is near the pinnacle of E34 design thanks to its exclusive options. Its Avus Blue paint is a dynamic hue that adds significant flair to the understated lines of the E34. In direct sunlight, Avus pops as a bright metallic blue, while in the shade it takes on a richer deeper hue. The brilliant silver parallel spokes of Style 37 M Parallel wheels—one of BMW’s best wheel designs—add sporty aggression. The M-Technic front and rear spoilers complete the picture, but not as much as the European M5 mirrors—which are my single favorite design cue. In a word, the M540i it is beautiful. I can’t help but succumb to BMW’s marketing words and “admire it when parked.” Perhaps covet would be a more accurate description. Every time I walk away, I waste no opportunity to look over my shoulder and steal one last glance.
Open the door and the M540i exclusivity continues. You are greeted by that fine leather smell that all well-kept E34s have. Sit down and the Silver-Grey Bison leather is soft and supple, covering nearly every surface under a matching silver headliner. The most prominent feature is the Euro perforated M-stitched leather steering wheel, but the most exclusive option is the carbon fiber trim. The M540i heralded from an era when carbon fiber was a truly exotic material—a time before such novelties as carbon fiber toilet seats existed. A red fiber woven into the carbon that BMW called Red Accent adds exclusivity. A BMW Motorsport International Limited Edition placard on the right side reminds your passenger that the M540i is special. This is confirmed by the number plate mounted on the center console that states this “1995 BMW M540i” was “Created in Limited Numbers by BMW M GmbH Exclusively for Canada.” In fact, the first M540i was hand built, but all are genuine M GmbH products. The Hurricane cloth and leather owner’s manual booklet also has a matching number plate, both of which read 18 of 32.
So, the M540i got exclusive kit and was built by BMW M, but does the absence of the M5’s S38 engine make it all face and no trousers? Fire the M60 engine and it settles into the unmistakable rumble of a V8, but one with the clinical precision of a BMW. The added horsepower of the Dinan chip make this M60 nearly identical in horsepower to the US S38, with significantly more torque. Out on the road, the M60 doesn’t have the theater of the high-strung S38, but the torque noticeably improves the low to mid throttle range. Push it to redline and the M60 screams, although not as loudly or dramatically as the S38. A louder exhaust would fix that, but the pure-bred S38 is a hard act to follow. Nonetheless, the answer to my question is a resounding “yes.” The M540i has the trousers to back up its looks, but they are a different brand than the M5’s, perhaps a fine pair of Johnston and Murphy slacks versus the M5’s racing leathers. The M540i’s other performance options only reinforce my opinion. The 6-speed Getrag 420G gearbox is precise, but I would prefer if it was less notchy. The quicker M5 steering rack is a vast improvement over vague non-M E34 turn in, while the Nuremburg Package brakes and suspension add athleticism beyond that of the US M5. The end result is a highly capable platform that, with only the slightest amount of talent, can out-drive much newer, smaller and nimbler cars. Then, when it’s time to reel it in, you still enjoy all of the sporting luxury that defined the E34 5 Series.
Overall, the Avus Blue paint is in excellent condition and presents fantastically. This M540i has clearly spent its life indoors and been spared winter weather. There are no glaring paint ships, scratches, or clear coat failure. Close inspection does reveal small imperfections; the worst are small areas of clear coat damage on the hood and roof (possibly sap stains) and a scratch on the rear passenger side door. We replaced the front bumper cover / front splitter, tow hook covers, and repainted the front panel that surrounds the kidney grills and goes under the headlights. High-end specialists SVE Autobody did all of the work. All remaining paint appears to be original. See the second-to-last photo in the gallery below for the Paint Gauge Report. The lower leading edge of the hood does have some minor rock chips. All body panels are original and all VIN tags are in place. There is no rust; all common E34 areas are clean. Since coming to the states it has always lived in Western states, except for a brief stint in Michigan where it stayed in the garage. All trim is in place, including the M540i specific bits. The windshield glass is crack-free. The side and rear window glass are tinted and in excellent shape. The headlights, fog lights, indicators, markers, and brake light lenses are clear and crack-free. The headlights were converted to DOT when it was imported and were cheap off-brand examples. I remedied this with a set of smiley projector M5 headlights, but they have orange indicators. OEM E34 clear indicators are NLA, but I have a set of off-brand clear indicators I will fit at the buyer’s discretion or include with sale. The side markers and rear turn signals retain their Canadian clear lenses with amber bulbs. The Style 37 M Parallel wheels are true and straight with excellent finish. There is very minor curb rash on three of them, the worst being on the driver’s side rear wheel. The Continental Extreme Contact DWS tires are worn evenly, with over 60% tread remaining.
The interior is likewise in excellent condition. There are no odors and it has never been smoked in. It still retains the wonderful leather smell that it left the factory with. The carpet is free of stains or tears. Plush matching M5 floor mats are included. The Bison Leather seats are in excellent shape, the only imperfections are wear areas on the driver’s seat bottom and backrest bolsters. The power seat adjustments and seat heaters work as they should. The rear seats are optioned with adjustable headrests, a center arm rest, and a ski pass-through. The dashboard is crack-free and the passenger side airbag cover is not warped (a common issue). The carbon fiber trim is present and in good shape, except for cracks under the headlight switch where someone had mounted an accessory previously in the car’s life. It is covered with an ///M badge, but I have several suggestions on repairing this more discretely since replacement trim pieces went NLA decades ago. The small piece to the right of the OBC has a small horizontal crack, but it isn’t glaring. The shifter trim piece is flat and not warped or lifting on the edges (a common issue), it has a small hairline crack in the clear coat. The center console is in good condition, but it does have several small holes where another accessory (perhaps a car phone) was mounted. The Euro steering wheel is a desirable upgrade over the standard 4-spoke wheel. It appears to have been recovered at some point with solid and perforated leather with M colored stitching. It’s in excellent condition. The power telescoping function works, but it has slight play when it’s fully extended. The instrument cluster has no failed bulbs or pixels and shows no warning lights; the SRS light takes a moment to extinguish, which is normal for an E34. The speedometer and odometer are in miles, but the fuel gauge and fuel consumption indicator remain in liters—which is very cool. 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 blows cold. The factory stereo was removed, a Pioneer DEH-150MP remains in its place. It has red illumination that is a near-match to the factory amber backlighting. It also has Aux inputs and Bluetooth. I have a BMW CD43 head unit out of a 2001 Z3 Coupe I will include for an extra $300 if the buyer wants a more factory correct upgrade. All switches, power windows, sunroof, and door locks work correctly—the only exception is the vertical adjustment of the driver’s side power mirror. The trunk carpet is clean, the cargo straps are present, the tool kit is complete, and an M Parallel spare tire resides under the trunk floor. The number plate matching hurricane cloth owner’s manual booklet is present and includes all manuals. Two keys are included with the sale.
When you buy a used BMW, you buy the previous owner’s stewardship. BMWs are like airplanes, in that the previous owners’ maintenance and care are more important than strictly age or mileage. This M540i has clearly benefitted from an excellent ownership pedigree. I have records dating to 2000, shortly after it was imported to the US, although, both previous owners did some undocumented maintenance and upgrades themselves, like oil changes. I have a spreadsheet of this from the most recent owner. In preparation for sale, I had a pre-purchase inspection done by BMW specialists Autosport Werks. Autosport Werks’ technicians own several E34s and worked on them for BMW when they were new. The only items noted were seeping valve cover gaskets, a leaking rear main seal and shift selector seal leaks, and weak hood shocks—which we remedied. No codes were present or stored. We had Autosport Werks replace the rear main seal, shift selector seal, shift bushings, and flush the transmission fluid. We replaced the valve covers and painted them wrinkle black in the process (I have pics from before and after). Other housekeeping items we addressed were the intake boot, a faulty cruise control actuator, and give it a fresh oil change and fresh spark plugs. The rear driveshaft CV joint (E34 driveshafts have a CV joint in the rear, not a UV joint) has very slight vibration that is only noticeable under hard acceleration at low speeds (~35 mph). The typical lifespan for these is about 180,000 miles and it does not warrant replacement at this time. It does not have any leaks and is not slinging any grease.
Prior to our ownership, BMW specialist Paddock Imports completed a major service in 2012 at 120k miles that included the valley pan gaskets, intake manifold gaskets, and valve cover gaskets. Significant items prior to that are rear brakes in 2011, a clutch kit in 2010 (the Carfax shows the mileage as 117k in 2010), and the cooling system in 2007 (the Carfax shows the mileage as 98k in 2006). E34 M60 V8 engines did suffer the Nikasil cylinder lining issues, but virtually all remaining examples are long past the common failure mileage. This M540i has had regular compression and leak down tests just in case. The most recent compression test was done at 119k miles and read #1 195, #2 195, #3 200, #4 195, #5 195, #6 195, #7 190, and #8 210 psi.
The M60 fires on command, idles smoothly, and pulls strongly to redline. The clutch take up is correct, the shifter is crisp, and the gearbox shifts smoothly, although it is notchy. There are no driveline or wheel bearing vibrations, the suspension is firm, but compliant, and the brakes are strong. The front brake pad thickness is at approx 30%, but the NLA floating front rotors have good runout remaining. The rear brake pads and rotors were replaced in 2011, and have plenty of life left as a result.
Like any BMW this Canadian M540i will certainly need continued care and maintenance—and it deserves it. We would like to find an owner who will continue its ownership pedigree and appreciate and enjoy it for years to come.
- Vehicle Identification Number: WBAHE5326SGA64908
- Type: HE53
- Model: 540I – USA
- Development Code: E34
- Chassis: Sedan
- Steering: LL
- Doors: 4
- Engine: M60/2
- Displacement: 4.00
- Power: 282 Horsepower
- Drivetrain: Rear
- Transmission: Manual
- Color: Special Painting - 490
- Upholstery: Light Silver-Grey Bison Leather – L4SH
- Production Plant: REGENSBURG
- Production Date: 5-23-1995
- 209 Limited Slip Differential (25%)
- 220 Self-Leveling Suspension
- 223 Dynamic Damper Control
- 240 Leather Steering Wheel
- 243 Airbag For Front Passenger
- 245 Power Steering Column Adjustment
- 279 BMW LM Style 37 Wheels
- 302 Alarm System
- 339 Satin Chrome Trim
- 431 Auto-Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror
- 459 Power Seat Adjustment with Memory
- 464 Skibag
- 481 Sport Seats Driver and Front Passenger
- 494 Seat Heating Driver and Front Passenger
- 502 Headlight Washer System
- 640 Car Telephone Preparation
- 686 Diversity-Function Aerial
- 694 Preparation for CD Changer
- 818 Main Battery Switch
- 838 Canadian Version
- 925 Shipping Protection Package
- 940 Special Request Equipment
- Control Individual
- Information Sign (Number Plaque) BMW Individual
- 0490 Paint Finishes
- Special Finish Avus Blue Metallic (276)
- 0940 Special Request
- M540i Limited Canada
- M Technic Spoiler Package (front spoiler, rear apron) from SA 337 Color Matched
- M5 Mirrors Color Matched
- M5 Illuminated Gear Shift Knob
- Expanded Leather / Carbon Fiber Trim with Red Effect
- Aperture Entry with M Symbol
- 18” x 8” Front, 18” x 9” Rear Style 37 M Parallel Wheels
- M5 Compound Floating Rotor Front Brakes
- M Technic Leather Steering Wheel with Airbag