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CURRENT BID: £29,750
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1990 BMW E34 M5

Guide Price: £15,000 - £20,000


• Recently recommissioned with no expense spared
• Only 87,000 miles on the clock
• Immaculate interior and exceptional exterior condition
• Rare Sebring Grey metallic 

The Background

Think of a fast, solid, exciting saloon car and nine times out of ten, your mind will wander toward the BMW M5. It has deservedly become the benchmark in the world of fast four-doors, thanks in no small part to being a halo car on the BMW roster since the early 1980s. Of course, today’s M5 is a very modern affair, with endless electronic aids and so on. Stiff fast, they’re not quite the visceral, ‘man and machine’ experience that the older cars were. Cars like the E34 version. 

The E34 was the third-generation of the 5 Series, but only the second-generation of the M5. There was of course the mighty E28 M5, but the E12 before it existed in a time when the notion of a performance saloon was but a pipe dream. 

Lessons had been learned from the E28. The new car needed to be bigger, it needed to be faster and it needed to push the boundaries of what could be done in terms of handling and build quality. As such, the car you see here packs over 300bhp from its 3,535cc straight-six engine, there is a snappy five-speed manual transmission, rear wheel-drive, limited-slip differential, 50/50 weight distribution and build quality that will make some modern cars blush. For many, this is the ultimate M5. Pure, robust and still a fast, exciting car despite being some 30 years old.

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The History

Hand built in Germany over two weeks around the 20th of May 1990, this UK specification BMW M5 was finished, shipped to the UK and registered on 1st August 1990 by the supplying Doncaster dealer. Originally ordered to be a demonstrator, the ordering BMW employee chose the rare hue of Sebring Grey metallic with matching Silver cloth/leather trim and automatic air conditioning. 

In 1991, the M5 was taken off the demonstrator fleet and sold to a private owner who would own the car through to 2002. Over the next seven years, the E34 M5 would have a number of other owners, all of whom would maintain and service the car in the fashion it deserved. There is a stamped service book with the car to offer evidence of this. 

In 2009, the car was sold again. However, once the MOT expired, the then owner put the car into dry storage where it would reside for the next ten years. As such, the mileage on this example is an incredibly low 87,000. Nothing for a car of this age, and certainly nothing for a car of this quality, which as you will know, can wear two or three times those miles and still be excellent. 

The owner who put the car into storage opted, in 2019, to thin out his collection, which is where the current owner comes in. Attracted to the impressive condition of the car, both inside and out, he bought it and set about recommissioning it for the road. The rear shocks were sent to Poland to be refurbished, the wheels were powder-coated and fitted with new Goodyear Eagle rubber, the fuel and brake lines were replaced, as were a whole host of bushes and other mountings. The engine was fully serviced with new filters, fluids, lines and belts. The car has been completely detailed, cleaned and polished to a high standard and now on the road, it stands as a truly exceptional example of one of BMW’s greatest achievements.

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The Paperwork

There is a solid collection of paperwork included with the BMW. There is a full book pack with the supplying dealer’s details, owner’s manual and of course, the service book. Inside this, you will find a fully-stamped history from a combination of main dealers and a couple of BMW specialists. The stamps cover the car’s life up until the point it was put into storage in 2009. 

To offer further clarity, the current owner has contacted BMW and requested a service overview, which serves to back up the information in the service book. There is also a build sheet, with dates of build, specification, options and other information such as dealer codes. There is of course also the current MOT certificate, which is valid until April 2021. The V5 is also present, as you would expect. 

Finally, there is the invoice for the extensive recommissioning works carried out this year by Kenrick Motors in Llangollen. The bill, which comes to £2,500, details the tyres, the brake and fuel lines, the brackets, the brake fluid, suspension fluid, power steering fluid, oil, a new battery, handbrake shoes, a new heater matrix, wheel refurbishment, all associated fixings and fittings and of course, the MOT. Proof for the new owner that nothing has been missed in terms of putting this car back on the road, where it rightly belongs.   

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The Interior

While taking the pictures of this gorgeous E34 M5, we laughed with the owner that the car’s past owners must have been tiny people - the wear is more in line with a three year-old car, not one that is thirty. The leather on the gear knob has some age to it, and the seat bolsters both upper and lower are in good condition, with only the slightest bit of cracking in on the driver’s seat. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is in excellent order, the dials are bright and clear, all the vents are in good order and show no breakages (a common problem). The carpets are in excellent order, as are kick plates, which only show signs of light use. 

Looking up, the headlining is in fantastic condition with no marks, do scuffs and no sagging. The electric tilt and slide sunroof works without issue, opening up the space in the cabin as it does. 

The rear seats look to have been barely used over the course of this M5’s life, and as such, are in remarkably good condition. All the seatbelts function, the centre rear vents are free from damage, and even the original cigarette lighter and 12v socket is still present. 

The door cards up front are in excellent order, and again show no signs of damage or neglect, and the inner fabric sections are all in good, clean condition. All the switchgear functions as it should, too. As for the rear door cards, they are clean and free from damage. However, there is some slight separation of the vinyl due to age - the glue loses its adhesion over the years. However, nothing is damaged or torn, so a good trimmer could re-fix these areas with ease. 

Sitting in this E34 is a treat. It’s a solid, well-built place as well as being exceptionally comfortable and impressively spacious. All the electrics and switchgear seem to be functional, all the gauges, too. There is also a more modern Blaupunkt head unit fitted, with DAM and CD.

The only negative to make bidders aware of is the air-conditioning. The current owner has had the system pressure tested, and on that front it was fine. However, the system doesn’t blow ice cold, so further investigation is required. All the fans function though, as does the heater, so you can stay toasty as winter arrives.

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The Exterior 

Fiercely handsome, the E34 is a car that looks good from every angle. And this, being the M5 with its bigger wheels and lower stance, is the epitome of E34 design. As the pictures show, the car presents exceptionally well, with excellent shut lines, swirl-free paint and no corrosion to be seen. It’s evident that this car, with its low mileage, has been well looked after over the course of its life. 

BMW aficionados may notice some changes have been made, such as the clear front indicators and the later (1992 on) ‘Throwing Star’ M5 alloys wheels. The rear lights are also of a later design, with clear indicator sections. They are all genuine BMW though, and as such, they look the part. 

The paint is largely flawless, with nothing in the way of damage to be seen. Though of course, this is a 30 year-old car, so there is the odd chip here and there, as well as one small (1p) sized spider crack on the leading edge of the bonnet over the nearside light cluster. By and large though, as the pictures will attest, this E34 is in outstanding condition. The paint, a rare Sebring Grey metallic, has been polished carefully and to a deep shine. All the rubbers seem to be in excellent order, the glass is all bright and clear. The chrome trim, which is unusual (most M5s were fitted with black ‘Shadow Line’ trim) is also in excellent order. 

Looking over this car in detail, it is exceptional and could be made perfect with very little work. The rubbers around the door handles have cracked with age, and there is a small rust blister by the fuel filler, but that’s about all we could fault it on. The car is arrow-straight, the doors, boot and bonnet open and close cleanly and without fuss, the car sits level and true, the panel gaps are on point and as such, this car presents wonderfully. You could be enjoying its performance on a Saturday, then enjoying the gushing of onlookers on the following Sunday’s car show.

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The Mechanics

Open that big, forward-hinged bonnet and you’re greeted by the sight of the 3,535cc S38B36 straight-six M Power heart of the beast. The bay is clean, tidy and with no signs of corrosion or accident damage. All the fluids are fresh, as per the recent works, as are all the V belts.

Firing the M5 up, it barks into a deep growl and settles into an idle without and hunting or coughing. Out on the road, the 315bhp straight-six makes light work of shunting the heft of the E34 along. Make no mistake, this is still a fast, powerful car. The gear change is pleasingly mechanical and direct, though the clutch isn’t too heavy to operate. 

Thanks to new fluid, the power steering works beautifully, though as mentioned in the recent MOT advisories, there is some slight play. However, it is slight, and the steering is still direct and full of feedback.. The brakes, too, are in good order and pull the big BMW to a stop without drama or hesitation. 

Finally, there is the suspension. Known for being a bit heavy on bushes, the E34 is a car that has to be looked after if you’re going to get the most out of it. Happily, that’s the case here. There are no bumps, rattle or creaks from the car, and it feels planted and connected to the road. There is no float nor any sensation of drift to be found.

All of these positive traits lead to this E34 M5 being a car you can quickly build confidence with. There are no modern electronics to get in the way. It’s just you, your abilities and confidence and the road. Just what a proper performance saloon should be. Light and usable when you need it to be, it’s also a focused, brilliantly engineered machine when being pushed hard. Which is what you’re going to want to do. Driving this car is addictive. 

As for any mechanical negatives, the most recent MOT mentioned the steering, as we touched on above. There was also an advisory for an oil leak, but only ever so minor. There was also an advisory on the front brake pipe, but this is because it’s been coated in rust protection.

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The Appeal

We don’t need to sell you on the BMW E34 M5. The car does that all on its own. It’s an automotive icon, one which is celebrated throughout the motoring world for its speed, its handsome looks and its handling. It’s a car that has been idolised on the silver screen care of films like Ronin. It’s a car that all enthusiasts want to own and experience. 

This car is your opportunity to do that. Bid and buy, and this car is ready to go. It will take you wherever you point it, and it will grab you and engage you as it does. With very, very little work, you could push this E34 into being a show-winning car. It’s that good. This car is low mileage, it’s clearly been cared for and it stands today in outstanding overall condition. What’s not to like? This is your chance to own one of the greats.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

Vehicle specification
  • Year 1990
  • Make BMW
  • Model E34 M5
  • Colour Sebring Grey
  • Odometer 87,527 Miles
  • Engine size 3535CC
  • Location Wales
Bidding history
77 bids
  • BSelhi £29,750 03/11/20
  • Ak300c £29,500 03/11/20
  • BSelhi £29,250 03/11/20
  • Ak300c £29,000 03/11/20
  • BSelhi £28,750 03/11/20
  • Ak300c £28,500 03/11/20
  • BSelhi £28,250 03/11/20
  • Ak300c £28,000 03/11/20
  • BSelhi £27,750 03/11/20
  • Ak300c £27,500 03/11/20

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