I first bought a BMW nearly 30 years ago, that was an E30 325i Touring and since then I’ve had an E36 328i, E46 330i and E46 330d Tourings. My current BMW’s are all M cars, but I miss not having a Touring. There are only 2 official BMW M car Tourings, the E34 M5 and the E61 M5, neither were built in large numbers.
My preference has always been for a manual gear box, so in late 2015 I started looking for a decent E34 Touring that was fundamentally sound but maybe needed a little work. The problem is that the E34 Touring is a very usable vehicle and most E34 M5’s have been used, a lot. There are very few about that have done less than 100,000 miles, most have done significantly more. I looked at a few but none met my criteria and most had significant rust on the main chassis.
A rare manual 4.6 E34 Alpina Touring that had been restored was for sale in Germany and I briefly contemplated that as an alternative. Many would argue that it’s a better car than the E34 M5, the Alpina modified V8 being much more flexible, having similar power but more torque than the rather highly strung 3.8 version of the straight 6 S38. But for some reason there is something I prefer about M cars to Alpinas, can’t put my finger on it but the Alpina was not for me. There is also some sense of destiny with the evolution of the initial M88/1 in the M1 and it’s final evolution of the S38B38 in the E34 M5.
By mid 2017 I’d just about given up hope of finding a suitable E34 M5 Touring and started looking at the E61 M5 instead. Obvious benefits were that it was available in right hand drive and is a more modern car. Then there is that V10 engine, but there is also that gearbox! There was a low mileage, high spec car for sale not very far from me, so I arranged to go and look at it. While I was in the car on the way, my phone rang. Someone had found an E34 Touring that was not ‘officially’ for sale, but it would be open to sensible offers. I went ahead and looked at the E61 anyway, it was in very good condition and had obviously been well looked after, the owner had several other very nice cars including a Ferrari Daytona in their garage. However, with the prospect of a suitable E34 with a colour scheme I wanted (Avus Blue silver accents and black interior) and the E61 with a colour and interior that is probably my least favorite (Silverstone with Silverstone interior), I decided not to go down that route.
My first sight of BL01698 was just via some pictures taken by a friend who lived nearer to it than me. Initial looks made me wonder if this would be a good choice after all! I had been told that it was a 6 speed car, actually it’s the earlier 5 speed version. The mileage was more than I’d been told, but still low at a little over 77,000. Apparently the car had had a minor scrape down the passenger side, then been left awaiting repair. The minor scrape was not quite as minor as I had hoped and a lot of the ancillary components were looking decidedly crusty. The interior was reasonable, except for the front seats that were showing quite a lot of wear and has some strange scratches, as though someone had been wearing a studded belt or something similar.
On the plus side, maybe the 5 speed box is not a bad thing, they are readily available if something does go wrong with them, unlike the 6 speed which is pretty much unique to the E34 M5. Some reports also claim that the earlier 5 speed is nicer to drive. The car has Hi-Fi speaker system and full leather dash which makes the interior feel a bit more special. It also has a factory fitted tow hitch which was one of the things I really wanted, the tow hitch mounting was a little scabby though.
The engine had had major a rebuild quite recently, so the internals would not need any work at all even if it looked pretty scabby on the outside.
A closer inspection of the vehicle chassis revealed that it was mainly in pretty good condition. The decision was made; BL01698 would undergo a total restoration by Munch Legends.
Pretty much everything was stripped off the car, engine, sub frames, fuel tank, heat shields, sun roof, doors, tail gate, front wings and ancillaries in the engine bay etc. One of the front wings was a little rusty and the two passenger side doors were damaged enough to warrant replacement. On examination at the body shop it was decided that the cost of replacing the driver’s side doors and other front wing would cost little more, possibly less, than prepping the originals.
The entire underside, including the inner front wings, was bag sealed. The original active shock absorbers were sent to Poland to be refurbished, the rest of the suspension components, drive shafts, brake dust shields, and sub-frames etc. were either replaced or refurbished and powder coated. The diff was rebuilt and painted where appropriate.
All brake calipers were rebuilt and passivated, along with all other unpainted underbody components. Most of the rubber and trim pieces were replaced where still available from BMW. All engine covers, plenum, water pump etc. were vapor blasted and repainted where required. Brake lines, fuel lines, fuel tank and all clips etc. were replaced. The fitted Powerflow rear silencer was replaced with an OEM part. The wheels on the car were rather nasty two piece after market design and the outer rims were badly corroded. There were replaced with the correct M5 Throwing Star wheels with new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. The sun roof was jammed pretty much solid, but eventually opened up to allow refurbishment.
Most of the work on the chassis and running gear is now complete, there are still a few bits and pieces left to sort out. The tailgate needs fitting and the sun roof is in pieces awaiting reassembly and refitting. The interior has not been touched yet, apart from removing parts to allow for removal of the sun roof cassette and facilitate other work.
I have quite a few pictures of the work being done, for now I’m just going to post a comparison of some of the original pictures and the same area as it is now, plus of couple of the whole car and underside. Please remember, this is still work in progress.
And a couple of pictures as she stands now