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'94 540i Touring 6spd - The Money Pit!

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always weird when you start a wip, it is infact a new chapter, of life, of car culture, of way of living.

this is just my new way of wasting money in nonsense.

last month I've bought my new car, paid waay to much for it because I went there already convinced that it was going to be mine, no matter what. I know estate v8 manuals are rarer than most of the cars I see every day, and this will make sense very soon.

bs aside, this is the reason why I'm going to be completely broke in the next years


e34 540i touring with a getrag 560, all factory, as far as i know this is one of the famous (?) 63 rhd produced.

She's BH15015 for the vin number geeks out there ;)

This thing is my first car in the UK, therefore first one with steering on the wrong side, and first beamer, which means I have no experience on rwd bitches, and more importantly, first car that I bought myself.

My ex money pit was a 94 civic eg6, if you're not into hondas is the first thing you can buy when you start every Gran Turismo career.

mine looked like this


I realised I needed a rwd car when I put my brother's e87 diesel into a wall trying to be an idiot, with success, and I've always been a fan of estate cars.

I knew I was going to get a BMW, there's pretty much nothing else out there part from mercs which are all autos, not for me, I was pretty much sure that it would have been an e46 touring, maybe a 330d.

I've read about these e34 touring and all the cool features they have, first of all the EPIC twin sunroof, and the split tailgate just like my old civic, self leveling suspensions, good engines and the fact that most parts are interchangeble with even more modern stuff.

my dream was to build a touring with an m70, 6 speed and 520i badge at the back, but it takes years and lots af skills that I'll probably never have, so when I saw this 540 for sale among a jungle of auto 525s i knew that it had that "little more" and I made it mine.

Neglected, probably abused and maybe even crashed, this car represents my idea of perfect vehicle: big, estate, rear wheel drive, good/big engine, manual gearbox, tough look, old style, massive sunroof. It's the only car that ticks all the boxes. and is nice to look at too, score !

When i brought it home I was very daunted: all by myself, no idea what this thing was going to do, I didn't test drive it because the dude wouldn't let me without insurance, and so the first ever drive was when the car was already mine. 146miles, Wolverhampton to South London.. here we go !


...and it made it ! surprisingly this thing just ate miles and road, and brought my scared ass back home, champ !

very first thing, get it up on a ramp at work to check how bad the conditions really are:



...very, that's all I can say ! the described "surface rust" on the bodywork just meant that the guy never had it on a ramp. There is serios rust on the sills that have already started flaking, and I still have to check the inside of the front wings. It has had regular mots in different places, given the fact that all the numerous owners lived all over the country, so with the last one done last october I would assume that it won't fail again, but it needs to be sorted, one day or the other. on the bodywork it is actually just surface or slight bubbling, I can sort that myself, but stuff underneath, that will need someone that knows what to do... I've already "booked" someone suitable at work.

so that's on the list.

I've thrown in a set of plugs just for peace of mind, original ngks, I think they are bkr6ek.

all the rest it's just a lot of neglecting and owners that cared more about looks and engine noise that actual car health.

first saturday off (I used to work every other saturday before I had this car)I tried a first jet wash on the underside, so that I can really work out what is leaking and what is just dirty, or maybe just make my life a little bit easier when I'll have to crawl underneath to fix something !



car on axlestands in the wash bay, courtains around to protect valuable stuff, and look at all the grime that came out ! it's not even half of what's underneath that thing !!

but then, sorry, I had to ditch those ridiculous angel eyes and HID that came with the car.

I apologise in advance to HID people or angel eyes supporters, but I got to the point when I was driving at night with no lights on just because I was embarassed of those horrible things, and they were a complete mess held up with cable ties and electrical tape, they had to go.

Got a set of original smileys for 100 pounds, and started working for the very first time on my new car.



then I also tackled the completely loose exhaust by fitting two missing rubber hangers to the middle section and two clamps with some exhaust paste to actually connect it to the rear section, what a mess! It now leaks from the manifolds, which is a massive bonus, but at least is 50% functional.

I then tried to regas the A/c, but had to stop half way through the process because I ran out of time and nobody was going to wait for a crappy bmw to finish regas, and so, next week, hopefully!



this is the new look, with bonus cracked main beam


next on the list was a compression check. you think m60, you think nikasil coating, so fingers crossed here we go.


it did fine, 155psi average with a low of 135 and high of 170, I think i'm all right, I may actually be lucky with one of the latest alusil coated engines, still to check. wich me luck.

then two weeks of stop because I was busy driving to the uk the very car that made me thinking about this in the first place,

queuing at dunkirk


and the last job so far, drive belts.


the bentley manual says you have to take off the fan.

obviously mine wouldn't play, I've taken them off anyway.



and here we are.

in the meantime I've changed the bonnet and bootlid struts, so those huge metal bastards don't break my neck everytime.

in the future there is a full service with A/c regas, rust on chassis, sunroof, suspension, brakes, rust on bodywork, electrics, diff overhaul, oil leaks, thermostat... is a long list.

the ridiculous shnitzer badge at the back will soon go, together with the side stripes. the number plate would have been fine 10 years ago when I was 15, not now. I'm still not sure wether to remore the 540 badge or keep it. I'm a fan of the clean look, but this is one of the few badges worth keeping. we'll see.

and no M stuff, i should die first.

I hope you've enjoyed it, saturday more misery still to come !


Edited by Mazz

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Love the car and work your putting into getting this back to how it should be too many neglected examples out there. out of interest where do you work? i take it a Ferrari dealer?    

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This car has been discussed quite a bit on the forum. Congrats on the purchase and respect for taking on such a big project... ;)


Great workshops and some fine metal in there... Where is it, Joe Macari?



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oh yeah, forgot the most important bit: i work as a classic car bodger ad joe macaris, you've probably seen it on telly, so clearly my car will be the lest interesting thing to see in this topic !

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Looking forward to this restoration too! looks like it'll be well looked after!


Can you arrange a bmw5 discount for those of us who want our cars looked after at your garage !?! whilst reading I thought initially you have a very nice man cave at home !


I used to have an E34 1995 525i Sport and I still wince when I purchased the genuine ACS type 3 wheels for it back in late 99! but the car looked fantastic with them! Do you have any choice modifications planned for this car once you take off the bits you don't want?! 


The only pic I have of a mildly modified E34 Touring




Now I'm missing my E34..    I need to make some more ca$h .... !


Cheers, Dennis!

Edited by DennisCooper

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yeah mate, I will !!


I'm not even thinking about mods since the car has such a long list of stuff that need doing and it would be silly to just throwing parts at something that's not 80%, not even 100%...

The engine feels lumpy, it's got compression but it doesn't feel fast at all, I'd probably lose to my old civic hands down.


there's a terrible squeek from the front struts, also the steering has some play and pulls to the right quite badly.

the brakes are there but very weak, car weight wins.

the sunroof is stuck, the motor runs  but doesn't engage on the cogs, I'll have to take it apart.

the rear sls have been probably deleted, although there are no evident leaks from the PS circuit.

the manifolds leak, that'll be a bitch.

OBC has a mind of its own, most of the time reports things that are perfectly ok, but it still detects true stuff, like when you open the doors or when a bulb doesn't actually work.

there's an aftermarket alarm that doesn't really work, and I'm really afraid of those bastards because electrics is not really my thing.

claimed rear e32 lsd doesn't really work, or at least, I left a one wheel peel while trying my first donut on dry, maybe was just me.

driveshaft vibrates, i think the center bearing is shot.


I'll try to have fun with it as much as I can, don't forget that I'm basically a kid on minimum wage trying to run a 4.0 v8 in the uk, so things will be kind of slow.


with the old car I had a great time wizzing around tracks even though it wasn a track ready machine, and It would be great to do the same with this, maybe on more open tracks like the ones you've got over here, without forgetting that is a big estate, so lots of fun camping and during bank holydays.


It would be great to hear stories about my car, if you know something that I don't, please, feel free to report everything. it's not the first time I read about people that know this car, so if you know something that can help, please, step up !

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Try resetting the sunroof by pressing the close function and holding it in that position for 20 or 30 seconds.

The rest of it will be a long slog of investigation and fixing but as you already know, the car is rare and if you get it right, desirable.

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Weak brakes is a couple of hours patient cleaning and checking, all new fluid, possibly pads and might cure your pulling to the right.

Front strut squeaking could be the top bearings - nothing to lose by exposing them and a liberal splash of grease to see if you're in the right area.

Which manifolds are leaking?

Uneven running and lack of power could be as simple as new plugs and a clean filter.

All the above isn't too costly if you have the time, tools and inclination to get stuck in.

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Plugs are already in, filters are coming.

I may be a professional bodger but the contract says classic car restorer, I'll see what I can do!

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Just leave headlight adjusters unplugged. Make sure you drop the sump and bolt the oil pump back on when you do oil change, you'll need a new sump gasket, have a look at my grey and red car project threads in project section.

V8 brakes have always felt shit, there should be power there but they'll feel crap. Not managed to find a fix for it yet due to brake bomb rather than vac booster.

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oh yeah, forgot the most important bit: i work as a classic car bodger ad joe macaris, you've probably seen it on telly, so clearly my car will be the lest interesting thing to see in this topic !

Have to say I love the BM but was rather distracted by one or two /all of the other cars!!

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thanks for the infos !!

I tried to reset the sunroof but no luck, the motor turns but there0s the unmistakable noise of a gear not engaging and just grinding.


I then unplugged the headlight motors to see if that works, well, it doesnt, but I don't know if there's a procedure to follow, ignition off or on, engine running ? lights on, off?? bah.

the bentley manual has nothing on this, and I just found out it doesn't cover double sunroof even though it clearly says 1989-1995 e34 saloon and touring all models. ye ye.

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Check wiring loom at tailgate hinge.

I smacked fuck out my sunroof and it started working, same for door windows, smack the doors lol

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and back again, saturday off.. not so much, cause I keep turning up at work to do a little hammering on my wreck.


this time I tackled the missing fog lights, absolutely crucial for the reliability, regas the a/c, and done some more cleaning underneath to see what's going on.


fog lights first, driver side first go, champ





pass. side, the connector was shot for hanging so long exposed to the weather.

got another one from the spare set, made up a couple of basic connectors with some heatshrink to protect it from god's fury, and in it goes.






foglight works !




and there we go with the air conditioning, third time lucky ??





without forgetting to ditch another fine mod, hanging pod filter..






the regas revealed what I was already expecting, a leak, and there it is, this is the best view




condenser, lower lhs corner from front. i'll need a second hand one in better condition.



more good news, the m60 is the unlucky nikasil version




again, not much to see. alusil m60s are the later ones, right before the introduction of the m62 vanos. engine n. 1745... onwards. mine is a 1725, one of the early ones, that's odd... my car is a 94!! nevermind, it's got good compression according to the test, It'll come out of there at some point in its life, we'll see what happens.


some more workshop goodness




same engine !!




well, almost !



and here we are with some snapshots of the horror underside








gearbox still filthy




and last but not least, another reliability mod, ac shnitzer badge in the bin




unfortunately not much, but today we had a gathering of clients froma  ferrari club, not sure which one, that turned up at 10am, and there was no chance I was going to do some serios work with my filthy 20 years old leaking steaming bmw in front of millionaires wondering in the shop... next week.




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Good stuff so far! 


Nikasil isn't much of a problem now that petrol is low sulphur. Mine's also on it's original block, a lot but not all of them were changed. 

Edited by 540i/6DB

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Scrubs up well, I see you got no cats...

yea mate, I've just realized.

sorry planet !


went for a drive today, and I'm more and more thinking about what can cause this engine to be this lumpy.

it does pull, well, not 286hp worth, but it struggles to start when hot and it feels and sounds like it misses a cylinder.

I'll do a compression check again, and maybe look at the plugs a little bit better.

it needs a major service, the exhaust needs to be sealed and maybe the injectors will do with a clean. for that purpose I got myself a spare set from a 3.0 m60, which I hope are the same, I'll try and clean them so that I can stick them on straight away and see what happens.



oh, the obc still bullshits me, changed all the light bulbs yestarday, ALL of them, and still reckons the dip beam doesn't work..

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