BMW M5 Touring (E34)
Michael Ottati ‘Use good oil, let it warm up before you cane it, and it'll do 250k miles no problem’
Dream car: Alpina B10 Biturbo
Why did you choose the car?
I'm a lifelong fan of the E34 M5. I’ve wanted a Touring since I learned they existed. Never imported to the US, they were reasonably quick, very under the radar and extremely practical. It was my automotive holy grail.
What’s the best bit?
They have all of the performance of the M5, but with a bigger boot. There are maybe 30 of them in the US, so most people just think it’s an old wagon, but enthusiasts who know what it is hang out of their car to snap a pic of it. There's enough performance to keep up with modern traffic, and it's ideal for high-ish speed travel. Plus you get BMW's EDC (Electronic Damper Control) which gives you a nice ride when you want it with the option of a firm one when you need it.
What’s the worst bit?
Since BMW North America never imported these cars, they have no intention of supporting them now. Many parts are no longer available (NLA), and even some that are available are 'blocked' because they’re not US-certified. Oh, and that EDC? NLA.
What’s it like to run?
It’s a part-time driver, sharing the duties with an E34 M5 saloon and an Alpina B10 (I like E34s). Economy is reasonable, and it's big enough for my family's needs. Comfortable for long trips, but still fun for the occasional track day. Much of the mechanicals are shared with the saloon, and for parts that BMW NA won’t let me buy, I can easily get enough through European sources.
Better brake pads on the big 4-pot 345mm front discs, and a performance chip in the DME that adds a few hp and removes the speed limiter. There's a slightly more modern sound system (that still looks period).
Any advice for buyers?
Watch for rust. A good service history is important: you’re buying the past owner as much as the car. I think the EDC adds value, and can be rebuilt by Nagengast in Poland, but it’s easy enough to delete with coilovers or standard suspension. The internet says replace the rod bearings at 100k miles. I did, but mine were fine. Use good oil, changed at decent intervals, let it warm up before you cane it, and it’ll do 250k miles no problem.