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    Offering some incredibly exclusive alternatives to the hottest BMWs out there for several decades now, Alpina still acts as an extremely worthy distraction for anyone in the market for a sporty German cruiser.

    GILES RAMSDEN’S ALPINA B10 3.5 / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #Alpina-B10-3.5 / #Alpina-B10-3.5-E34 / #Alpina-B10-E34 / #Alpina-E34 / #Alpina-B10 / #Alpina / #BMW-535i-Alpina-E34

    Giles here was kind enough to share his slice of Alpina perfection with us: this stunning #Island-Green B10 3.5 that took on BMW’s E34 5-Series back in the early ‘90s. “I bought it as a shell on a trolley, along with a couple of boxes of bits, after the previous owner lost interest in it.” Giles explains how he took on this huge, yet clearly extremely rewarding project, just a few short years ago.

    Now back to its former glory, practically every part has been bought fresh from either Alpina or BMW. There’s no denying that luxury charm is present by the bucketload too. This one contains touches like signature gold stripes and a sumptuous leather interior. Of course, there's also the re-worked version of the #BMW-M30 #straight-six engine that Alpina took out of #BMW-535i-E34 .

    Only 572 of these super-saloons were ever produced worldwide, so it’s great to see another example brought back from the brink. Top work for saving another modern classic icon from the scrapper!

    TOP MODS: Full nut-and-bolt bare-shell restoration in original Island Green colour, genuine Alpina badging and stripes, original Silver Grey leather interior, #Bilstein shocks and #Eibach springs.
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    LIGHTS AND BRAKES #BMW-E34 / #BMW-535i / #BMW-535i-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW

    My E34 535, which I’ve had for many years, is now not showing the service interval lights properly. Currently, one green comes up, but there was no reaction when I tried to reset them with the tool.

    The Haynes manual warns that the battery may leak and cause problems. I’m probably lucky that it hasn’t already happened! Anyway, have you got a source for a replacement light module?

    One other thing. During last year’s MoT, the tester had a problem to get sufficient handbrake effort; he managed it, but only just. Later, I removed the discs to examine the installations and, actually, they both seemed to be quite alright. So I cleaned-up the handbrake drums and the linings just to be sure, then re-assembled everything.

    On the road the brakes didn’t feel much different. However, I do have the #Autocar issue from May 25, #1988 , which includes the 535 road test. In that, the brake test shows 26% for the handbrake and a braking distance of 116 feet from 30mph.

    So, I’m wondering if there’s anything sensible that I could do to improve matters? I’d hate to see the old girl get grounded for this.
    • The E34 doesn’t have batteries in the SI board, but the green lights can fail with age. New circuit boards from BMW are an insane price (£2000+) so, iThe E34 doesn’t have batteries in the SI board, but the green lights can fail with age. New circuit boards from BMW are an insane price (£2000+) so, in my opinion, the best thing to do is simply leave it alone, especially if the rest of it still works.

      Handbrakes will need new shoes and clips, plus new drums, if they’re going to work properly. Correct adjustment is also very important, and entails fully slackening-off at the handbrake lever inside the car, and setting it up on the rear discs/drums, before adjusting on the lever to finish it off.
        More ...
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    / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-540i-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-525iX-E34 / #BMW-525iX / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #1994-BMW-525i-SE-Auto-E34 / #BMW-525i-SE-Auto-E34 / #1995-BMW-540i-LE-E34


    When the trade applies the words ‘price on request’ to their adverts it tells us two things – first they’re shy of advertising a price because they’re feeling the market, and second, values of that model are on the rise.

    Have a look at prices of BMW’s #1988 to #1996 E34 5 Series – M5s have gone ballistic, but all E34s are moving up across the range with dealers pitching good ones bullishly. But before the supply of low-mileage survivors gets soaked up it’s worth seeing what’s out there at sensible money.

    A private seller in Wigan has a ’1990 525i SE auto in Granite with 50k and two owners for £2800 while another in Essex has a ’1991 520i SE auto in Island Green with 51k, unused spare and toolkit for £3800. These prices don’t feel heavy for such low-mileage specimens. And neither does the £7995 being asked by Auto Classics in Kettering for a ’1994 525i SE auto in Calypso with a mere 21,000 miles, #FBMWSH and in ‘time warp’ condition.

    Go for the big engines and high specs and remember that the Tourings are more coveted than saloons. Picks of the range are the ’1992-on BMW-540i V8 manual (3203 built), the 1995 540i LE with its M5 interior, six-speed manual and Servotronic steering (300 made) and 540 M Sport (200 built).

    The Ercole Spada and J Mays designed E34 was a game-changer for Munich and was the first 5 Series to have a V8, an estate body and four-wheel drive on the #BMW-525iX-E34 . It was stiffer and more streamlined than the previous E28. BMW sold more than 1.3 million and it won a slew of best-in-class awards.

    The E34 was the definitive executive saloon of the Nineties and at the top of every middle manager’s company car wish list. Tough and long-lived there are plenty of E34s that have covered 250,000 miles and they’re surprisingly rust resistant with problem areas limited to head gaskets, water pumps, slipping autos, the usual suspension and steering bushes plus issues with sulphur contamination on the Nikasil bore liners – although most were fixed under warranty.

    While there’s a supply of lower-mileage examples still in private hands you could do worse than find a high-spec six or V8 before they get hyped up. Like the Arctic Silver ’ #1995 530i SE manual for sale in Kent for £4250 with 43,000 miles and full history. That one definitely feels like a bargain.

    COST NEW £23k
    VALUE NOW £4000

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    Are we always thinking about our next car? Currently, I feel like I am and I’m feeling a bit guilty about it. I got my E39 back in April after waiting 18 months for it and that same weekend took delivery of my 630i and yet here I am browsing Autotrader on an almost daily basis and I’ve already made my three-five year car purchase plan. It’s going to be an F10 M5, it has to be, and in three-five years’ time I’ll be able to afford one. But why I am thinking about what’s next when I should be concentrating on enjoying the E39 and getting stuff done on the 630i? Maybe I’m just in a peculiar mood, because I’ve never had it this bad before, or maybe I’m still feeling light-headed from the thrill of the chase when I spent a good three months hunting for the right 630. Whatever the case may be, there can be no doubt that it’s one of the symptoms we’re all afflicted with as car enthusiasts; some of us have been lucky enough to have found our forever car (or cars), and we’re hoping that they’ll be our lifelong companions, but for the rest of us I guess our car-addled brains just can’t sit still.

    If you are looking for some inspiration for what to buy next, this issue is packed full of awesome feature cars that will make you come away wanting each and every one of them. Naturally I have to begin with our cover car, that absolutely awesome #S38-swapped #BMW-E34 / #BMW-E34-Touring / #BMW . It hails, as you can probably guess from the number plate, from Japan, and it’s had a huge amount of work done that has transformed it from 540i into something truly exceptional. Not only does it look stunning, it’s had the full-fat 3.8- swap and it’s a flawless machine from top to bottom. Other delights this month include a monster 823hp turbo drag E30, an 820hp F10 M5, a full-on E36 track beast and an absolutely sublime slice of retro cool in the shape of an E3 3.0 on air.

    We’re always looking ahead, though, and in the October issue you can expect to wrap your reading gear around a ferocious F82 M4 track build, a 2JZ-powered E24 6 Series and an absolutely awesome supercharged E30 that will blow you away. You definitely won’t want to miss out so make sure you join us again next month for more modified BMW mayhem!
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    STEFAN BUTLER #BMW-E34 / #BMW-525i-E34 / #BMW-525i / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34

    Stefan’s smart, Orient blue E34 started out life as an SE but since becoming his property is now adorned with front and rear Sport bumpers, with smooth trims, a boot spoiler and replica M5 mirrors. Eibach springs have been partnered with Monroe shocks to deliver a nice drop over a set of staggered 18s, and behind those sit 540i brakes, while Sport anti-roll bars have also been fitted. Inside you’ll find an extended Sport champagne leather interior along with a rear roller blind while under the bonnet there’s an air filter, and a stainless steel exhaust has been fitted along with a set of Ultra Racing tower and lower braces. Stefan says that his future plans include a rear axle and steering box swap plus fitting a set of door blinds.
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    / #1992 / #BMW-E34 / #Alpina-B10-Bi-Turbo / #Alpina-B10-Bi-Turbo-E34 / #BMW-E34-Alpina / #BMW / #Alpina / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-E34-Alpina-B10-Biturbo

    ESTIMATE £30,000 - £40,000

    There’s no getting away from the fact that the B10 Bi-Turbo was the daddy of all the E34s and this example looks like an absolute peach. It’s been in the UK since 2002 and has a low mileage of just 55k (88k km) and has been obviously loved throughout its life and has £15,000-worth of bills in its fi le to prove this. It does have a high estimate, but if you want the best you need to dig deep.
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    CONTINENTAL DRIFT

    It’s become an international sensation but the heart of drifting is in Japan. That’s not to say you have to use a Japanese car, however; you just have to get a little creative… 400HP E34 M5 V8-powered drift 5 Series S62 V8-swapped E34 drift machine. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Ade Brannan.

    Drifting has come a long way from being the sole preserve of mischievous Japanese outlaws sneaking out for touge battles after dark. The sport has spread like wildfire across the globe, consuming everything in its path in a fug of dense tyre smoke. Of course, there are drifters and there are good drifters; any fool can kick a clutch and light up the rears but the true connoisseur has an ingrained knowledge of entry angles, balletic transitions, and all those technical tricks that are earned and learned rather than simply assumed.

    Interestingly, the rise of the modern obsession with drifting neatly overlaps the demise of what archaeologists of the future will probably call ‘the fibreglass body kit era’. The modding fraternity’s enthusiasm for bolting massive, extravagant plastic addenda to humdrum shopping hatchbacks rapidly tailed off when they started seeing footage of big-power RWD cars atomising their tyres at high speed. And the timing of the fall of one phenomenon and the rise of the other is no coincidence. And Jeek Federico, owner of this slightly scary E34, straddles the two scenes rather effectively.

    Now, it’s all very well teaching yourself to drift and honing a few cheeky skills, but it’s not like you can just do it out there on the Queen’s highway. You’ll be tugged by the fuzz in short order. And if you try to hang the tail out at Brands or Silverstone, you’ll be black-flagged straightaway, and probably blacklisted, too. But thankfully there’s a place on these innocent isles where such smoky shenanigans are actively encouraged: Driftland. It’s up there in Lochgelly in Scotland. Oh, and by chance, Jeek just happens to be the owner of the place. Handy, eh?

    Driftland is the UK’s only dedicated drift venue, and it caters to all levels of enthusiasts who prefer to do their driving while looking through the side windows; seasoned veterans are welcome, but Jeek also runs a fleet of 15 or so E36 Drift School cars. Naturally he needs something pretty boisterous for his own car as well, to act as a showcase for all the place offers. And that’s where this E34 comes in. “I was looking for something to replace my E39 540i drift car that I’d owned for years,” he recalls. “I tried a few different Japanese models but hated them all. I’d known of this particular car for quite a few years and it came up for sale at just the right time; it had all the best bits of a big V8 German beauty that I loved, mixed with the agility and weight of a nimble Japanese car.”

    Aha, you’re intrigued now, aren’t you? Because, you see, this isn’t just a strippedout travelling salesman special – it’s a custom-engineered lightweight with a German heart and a Japanese soul. The front end of the car is pretty much all Nissan S14 200SX, converted to run a JDM steering rack rather than the heavy old steering box. And the commitment to weight saving throughout the car is extensive and farreaching; even the single-wiper conversion runs an E46 Compact motor to shave off a few grams.

    But don’t go wringing your hands just yet. It’s not all Japanese. Take a look at what’s going on under the bonnet, for example: the eagle-eyed and nerdy of engine code will have recognised this as an S62B50 – the hyperactively enhanced variant of the solid-as- a-rock M62 that you’d usually find under the bonnet of an E39 M5 (or, for those of a more exotic persuasion, the retro-futurist Z8 – y’know, the car James Bond sawed in half in that questionable 007 movie). This is a mighty motor, offering 400hp in factory tune; it’s got eight individual throttle bodies, hollow camshafts, and it’s just peachy.

    “These engines don’t need a lot of modification,” Jeek assures us. “I’m running Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds and an Alpha N map with MAF delete but, aside from that, it hasn’t been messed with and it makes a solid 401hp.” He’s got it running through a five-speed manual ’box with a super-lightweight flywheel (this isn’t like a lazy, rumbling American V8, it’s an eager revver), while a Helix paddle-clutch makes short work of those fourth gear clutch kicks.

    As you might imagine, the chassis that underpins all of this culture-clash fury is a bit of a mixed bag – part German, part Japanese, but all awesome. “The brakes are from an R33 Nissan Skyline at the front,” Jeek explains, “along with an E36 M3 Evo pedalbox and cylinder. The rear end is all E34 540i – it’s running zero camber to give perfect tyre wear and maximum grip from those 265/35s at 15psi.” Custom Apex coilovers suspend the thing, and you’ll find a variety of oriental flavours in the mix, too, from the likes of Tein and Doritech among others. The overriding theory behind the build is to ensure that every element of the car is focused on doing its job correctly; there’s nothing superfluous here, it’s all just hell-bent on destroying tyres in the most aesthetically alluring way possible. “The plan with it was always just to have fun, wreck tyres, and do huge top-of-fourth-gear smoky skids, all while advertising my business,” laughs Jeek. And his sense of fun is palpable throughout the E34. Sure, it’s aggressive and mean, but it’s also a little bit mischievous.

    The choice of wheels presented a bit of head-scratching, not least because the car’s running different PCDs on either axle: 5x114 front and 5x120 rear. “I have always been a fan of dish and width,” he says. “My old E39 ran 10”-wide Rondels all-round, so the new car’s wheels had to be beefy specs, as well as being easily replaceable in the event of one getting damaged. I opted for the STYLE49 wheels from 7Twenty, in 10x17” on the front and 10.5x18” on the rear.”

    They certainly complement the gorgeous paintwork very well. If the colour’s left you scrabbling through your memory banks of all the paint codes, it’s actually a Citroën shade named Whisper Purple. “I originally bought the car from my mate at Jankes BMW Spares,” says Jeek. “It was high off the ground, had crap wheels, and a terrible paint and sticker scheme. I had the body and paint all sorted out by the good guys at Toole Design. Along with the paintwork, the car was lowered and received a set of side skirts and a 1980s Zender splitter. The paint’s definitely my favourite thing that’s been done, as it looked rubbish before.”

    While the look may be pin-sharp and ready to mingle with the heavies, it’s important to remember that this E34’s real party piece is its extraordinarily light weight. “It weighs just 1150kg wet,” Jeek explains. “To put that in context, that’s about the same as a new Fiesta.” Just absorb that fact for a moment: imagine a new Fiesta with 400hp, then consider the fact that they’re not even rear-wheel drive… the dedication to weight saving has been relentless and ruthless here.


    “The theme for the interior was, quite simply, race car,” he grins. “There’s nothing in there that the car doesn’t need. That steering wheel is actually a genuine carbonfibre item from one of Ken Block’s M-Sport Focus rally cars. There’s also a pair of Motordrive seats with Driftland-branded harnesses (because sometimes you need to scare a passenger), a hydraulic handbrake, extinguishers, and that’s pretty much it.”

    Which, of course, is just as it should be. The base car was a non-sunroof 530i but there’s not a whole lot of that left here now, aside from the essential silhouette. The attention to detail stretches way into the recesses that you wouldn’t spot, too. All the underseal has been scraped from the underneath, which has been painted grey, while the insides are a complementary grey and blue. Everything about the car screams purpose, but at the same time it’s a very considered build. The perfect tool, in fact, for advertising Driftland.

    Is it the ultimate BMW drift car, then? Has Jeek nailed it this time? “Ah, I don’t know,” he considers, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I often think about what the next car might be, but I’m not sure what could be better – this engine in a 1M shell maybe? Or maybe some V10 M60 goodness?”

    It’s a moot point for now, however, as this shouty workhouse is a harsh taskmaster. “It got quite crashed up this year, so it’ll be getting some fibreglass rear quarters made up, and at the same time the car might end up a different colour, as well as going a little lower,” he confirms. “And, hey, if money were no object, a flat-shift sequential and a supercharger would be nice.” Well, if this E34 is as effective an advert as it is a drift car, those dreams may well be coming true before long.

    The plan was always to have fun, wreck tyres and do huge skids, all while advertising my business.

    Interior has been stripped-out and fitted with a Huxley Motorsport roll-cage plus a pair of Motordrive seats

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-S62 / #BMW-V8 Drift / #BMW-E34 / #BMW / #7Twenty / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW-5-Series-Drift / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-E34-S62 / #BMW-E34-V8 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-E34-Drift

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 , #Alpha-N map, new shells, Huxley Motorsport exhaust manifolds, #Doritech exhaust system (with V-bands for quick removal), #TTV-Racing lightweight single-mass flywheel with custom paddle and #Motorsport-Helix cover plate, 35-litre alloy tank underneath rear floorpan with #Bosch-044 pump and pressure gauge in bay, five-speed #ZF gearbox, 3.23 welded diff

    CHASSIS 10x17” 5x114 (front) and 10.5x18” 5x120 (rear) #7Twenty-STYLE49 wheels, #Nissan-GTS 320mm fourpot front calipers with ventilated discs, 540i rear calipers with ventilated discs, rear subframe reinforced with adjustable camber and toe, #Powerflex bushes, front subframe modified to use Nissan steering rack, bottom #Nissan arms, front Nissan knuckles with adaptors to use #BMW wheels, #Doritech knuckles for extra lock, #Tein tie rods, #GKT-Tech castor arms and GKT Tech lower arms, hydraulic handbrake with 0.650 Wilwood pump, #Apex custom coilovers – 10/8kg damping adjustable

    EXTERIOR E34 530i non-sunroof shell, Citroën Whisper Purple paint, underside painted grey, inside painted grey/blue, side skirts, #Zender splitter from the 1980s

    INTERIOR #Huxley-Motorsport roll-cage with extension to front turrets, #M-Sport/Ken Block carbon fibre steering wheel, E34 #BMW-M5-E34 instrument cluster and kick plates, #Motordrive seats, #Driftland harnesses, Coolerworks gearshifter, power steering cooler, #Lexan windows, flocked dash, M3 Evo servo and pedalbox, extra gauges for oil/water temperature/oil pressure/fuel, flick switches, custom wiring with fuse/relay panel, single wiper conversion running E46 Compact motor, #Zero-2000 plumbed-in extinguisher, 1kg hand-held fire extinguisher, small battery with fibreglass box and cut-off switch
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    …It’s what you know

    Looking for an #BMW-E34 sump to enable you to drop an #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i engine into an #BMW-E30 ? You might struggle as E34s are rare beasts now and a sump and dipstick kit will make up to 200 quid now, maybe even more. But fear not because the #BMW-E38 / #BMW-728i-E38 sump does the same job – unlike the E39 sump, the oil bulge on the E38 is at the front. The difference is, you’re far more likely to find a time expired 728i in a breaker’s – and they’re so cheap, a complete 728i (single Vanos only) engine will often be the best option – we’ve seen complete running cars for well under £500.

    On the subject of sumps and #BMW-M52 / #BMW-54 engines, don’t be taken in by expensive used M54 units for the #BMW-E60 because the #BMW-E39 unit is to all intents and purposes identical – the sump is the same. E39 engines are half the price though and whilst you’ll need to swap the engine loom over, it’ll fit and work as per the factory. And, a 1998-2000 #BMW-M52TU (double Vanos) from an E39 523i will drop into a pre-2006 E60 520i/525i just fine with that loom and manifold swap whilst a 2.8 from a double Vanos 528i gives a 525i E60 a touch of extra oomph.

    We touched on E90 diffs above – what a pity #BMW cast the iron diff casing on the E46 diff so that the front mounting bolt holes are an inch apart – I can feel an entrepreneurial moment and a nicely made adaptor plate coming on…
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    Art Cars The 12th machine in the series: Esther Mahlangu’s E34 525i.

    / #BMW-Art-Cars Esther Mahlangu #BMW-E34 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E34 / #Esther-Mahlangu / #BMW-525i-Esther-Mahlangu / #BMW-525i-Esther-Mahlangu-E34 / #BMW-525i-Art-Car / #BMW-525i-Art-Car-E34 / #BMW-E34-Art-Car / #BMW-Art-Car / #Art-Cars / #Esther-Mahlangu / #1992 / #BMW /

    In 1991 the 12th Art Car was commissioned and featured two firsts: the first African artist and the first woman artist.

    When it came to using the E34 525i as a canvas for its Art Car project BMW headed to the African continent and commissioned South African artist, Esther Mahlangu, to create something new and vibrant that hadn’t been seen before on its mobile art project.

    Born in South Africa in 1936, Esther Mahlangu was taught the traditional painting technique of the Ndebele tribe by her mother. The stylistically distinctive and well-known wall paintings feature a typical Ndebele pattern and are created exclusively by women. Today Esther Mahlangu is considered the leading representative of this art form, having achieved international acknowledgement for her work. Through her art she upholds the traditions of her tribe and she started passing on her knowledge to her daughter many years ago. As the Ndebele culture does not use writing their art means a lot to them. And from time immemorial it was up to the women to design the walls of tribal homes according to their mood.

    As you can see Mahlangu rose to the challenge of transferring her traditional art onto a modern carrier: the car. With this she combined two worlds. “Ndebele art has, in an entirely natural way, something slightly formal but very majestic about it; through my work I have added the idea of movement,” commented Mahlangu. “My art has evolved from our tribal tradition of decorating the home; for the Ndebele people, if you begin to paint a wall it means you are either announcing a wedding or a celebration.”

    By painting the 525i she has passed on her tribe’s traditional means of expression to an object of contemporary technology. In order to develop a feel for the completely new medium, she initially painted the door of another BMW before beginning the design of the Art Car. Within one week she had transformed the car into a masterpiece of African Ndebele art.

    According to Mahlangu: “I have been asked: ‘How did you paint? Did you use paper? Did you design the motive first?’. And I said: ‘No, the design is here in my head’. This car worked out nicely for me and I was so happy as so many people told me the car is so great, you did such a great job – they really went crazy about the car. The people are happy, all the people who see it are happy. When they see this car their hearts are simply filled with joy.”
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    THE REVENANT SLICK E34 540i Stunning classic Five

    Back once again with another of his greatest hits, this stellar 540i is the latest hot Beemer from… ah, but that’d be telling, wouldn’t it? Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary

    Gorgeous E34 540i

    “The strangest part about being famous is that you don’t get to give first impressions any more. Everyone already has an impression of you before you meet them.”

    Kristen Stewart said that, and she knows a thing or two about being recognised on the street. When you become well known in any given field, it’s impossible to stop your personified reputation from strutting ahead of you, thereafter colouring all of your future achievements with the rainbow-like splendour (or, conversely, bilious taint) of all that you’ve done before. It’s subjective, of course, but when you see Tom Cruise appear in a new movie, do you take him at face value or does your brain start wondering idly about scientology? Yeah, precedent is a dangerous thing. So we’re not going to tell you who owns this car. We’ll let you judge it for what it is.

    So, since we have no weight of precedent to bother us, the first thing that lures us in is that cheeky registration number. ‘U AS5’? Well, thanks a lot. But yes, perhaps it’s an appropriate snap judgement of the average bystander’s character, because a lot of people who tangentially know what they’re talking about will see a tidy E34 like this and immediately say: “Shame, it’s not an M5.” And that’s a mistake. Because the 540i is a phenomenal machine, and in certain arguable respects superior to (or at least more desirable to some than) the celebrated M super-saloon. Particularly when it has a rare-as- hen’s-teeth six-speed manual gearbox, as this one does. And, of course, while the 540i yields 50hp-ish to the M5, it does come packing a rumbling V8 rather than a straightsix.

    If a bent-eight torque-fest is what keeps you up all night, this is the E34 for you. It’s certainly the E34 of choice for our mystery protagonist. Indeed, it’s not the first one he’s owned; the last one became an engine donor for his E30 V8 project, with the rest of the car being broken up for parts and scattered to the winds – and this is clearly a state of affairs that’s rankled with him ever since. A combination of factors ranging from the implacable pang of yearning for a lost car to the spiralling values and increasing scarcity of one of Europe’s great V8, manual-’boxed cruisers meant that his keenness to find another one was pretty strong. Indeed, he was fairly dogged and single-minded in his pursuit – having set his sights on a bona fide 540i/6, there was little that could get in his way. Even such trifles as geography and language couldn’t put up any sort of barrier.

    After scouring the UK market to no avail, stumbling through boneyards of knackered 5 Series with little excitement to offer, our shadowy hero cast his sights and his nets further afield, and eventually turned up a likely-looking candidate in Poland. Okay, so he doesn’t speak Polish, but that wasn’t a problem: he merely deputised somebody who could speak the language to fly out there, check it out, arrange the purchase and drive it back to the UK. Like you do.

    Sounding improbable? Well, that’s just the fairytale world that this master of secrecy inhabits. After all, the 540i now finds itself sharing driveway space with, among others, a Lamborghini Diablo, a Ferrari Testarossa, and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Why should this scenario be more unusual than any other day in his whimsical life?

    Now, if you or I were to attempt such a manoeuvre, we’d inevitably end up with some sort of colossal heap parked on the drive, having paid top dollar for a cut-and-shut 518i with a last-minute paint job. But no, that sort of thing doesn’t happen to this guy. What he landed was actually a catch, its Polish owner having clearly expended a decent wedge on its upkeep, sitting it on a set of 18” RH splits and retrimming the whole interior in black leather – including the fancy front seats which, if you’re a particular sort of BMW nerd, you may recognise as the Recaros from the Winkelhock Edition M5, of which just 51 were built. Pretty neat selling point, that.

    It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, though. The universe isn’t that kind. While the aesthetics were tip-top and the spec was just-so, the chassis was a baggy. Bushes had been allowed to wither, suspension components were showing their age, it all needed a refresh. So that’s exactly what our man did. And no half-measures either – the suspension was handed into the loving embrace of BC Racing, who decked the 540i out in its sublimely fetching ‘Extra Low’ BR Series coilovers, imbuing the OEM+ aesthetic with a certain rakish aggression.

    It’s the sort of car you’d expect to see ferrying miscreants about in 1990s car chase movies, all slab-sided imposition and lowslung menace. And then, of course, it was time to address the area that many consider to be the most important… the wheels. The genius of what lies beneath this E34’s arches is in their relative stealth. To the uninitiated, they’re just a set of standard BMW wheels. To those with a little knowledge, the owner appears to have swapped on a set of M5 Throwing Stars. But when you learn the truth, you’ll appreciate just how deep the mystery spirals…

    It all started with a chap in the US by the name of Rimal Chand. Around about the time our E34 owner was sizing up his wheel options, Rimal was sharing a few pictures online of some custom split-rims he’d made using M-System Throwing Stars and 8 Series Turbines, and this was something that really caught his eye. With barely a pause, he’d made contact with Rimal and requested a set of his very own one-off Throwing Star faces to be fabricated and shipped to SS Autowerks in the UK, to be built up and fitted to the 540i. The finished result is a set of 18” wheels – 9.5” wide at the front, 11” out back – which few would suspect as being anything particularly special. But to those in the know, they’re the product of some sort of celestial master of the craft. In effect, the wheels imbue the build with the ultimate in OEM+ chic; to 95% of people this is simply a clean old 5 Series. To those who know what they’re looking at, however, this car is something very alluring indeed. The numerous other subtle upgrades – the smoked lights, the Heckblende (y’know, that reflective thingy across the boot), the rumbling exhaust system – somehow merely accentuate the subtlety of it all. This really is a cerebral and considered project.

    Oh, and the name behind it? Okay, some of you will have guessed. This car belongs to noted retro BMW egghead Nick Sahota – he of the ‘PUR35T’ bagged orange E30 M3, among many others. But if we’d told you that at the start, none of the fastidious attention to detail or excellence-at-all-costs motif would have come as a surprise. As Robert De Niro once said: “The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you.” But Nick doesn’t need your preconceptions to form any sort of back-slapping judgement – much like every other car in his collection, this 540i speaks entirely for itself.

    “To those who know what they’re looking at, this car is very alluring indeed”

    “This really is a cerebral and considered project”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E34 / #BMW-540i / #BMW-540i-E34 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-V8 / #BMW-5-Series-E34 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #M60B40 / #M60 / #BMW-M60 , custom #Hard-Knocks-Speed-Shop stainless steel exhaust system, six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x18” (front) and 11x18” (rear) #M5-M-System-II-Style-21#Throwing-Star ’ alloys converted to split-rims with 225/35 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing ‘Extra Low’ #BC-Racing-BR Series coilovers

    EXTERIOR E34 Heckblende, smoked Hella headlights and tail-lights

    INTERIOR #Winkelhock-Edition-M5-Recaro seats, full black leather retrim including dash, black headlining
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