Jump to content

E34 M5 Touring restoration

Recommended Posts

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

Edited by RichardP

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's lovely. I've always fancied an m5 touring and made enquiries to the late Keith' of this parish about his but came to nought  if they had made an e39 touring I'm pretty sure one would be in my drive. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding Richard.


Keith (urquattro) who sadly is no longer with us had both a five speed Touring and six speed saloon and always felt the five speed car was the better set up engine and transmission combination of the two. The Alpina 4.6 engine in the E34 is a very different option to the S38 engined E34 and whilst imho (having owned both) the Alpina lump provides for a greater spread of power across the rev range and a significant lump more torque if you don't 'get' Alpina, then I completely agree with yours and others decisions, don't get an Alpina. 


E34 M5 Touring prices have gone a little bonkers like E30 M3's and E24 M635CSi's in the past few years but examples like yours with the relatively very low mileage and documented engine history, as well as your commitment to a second-to-none restoration should demand the very best premiums. The great thing is, from reading your E26/1 thread, is that your example, even with all the work done, will be driven and used rather than restored and kept locked up away from prying eyes. 


As lhd is no problem and quite familiar to you I don't suppose the few rhd drive E34 M5 Tourings were options to you? I know both the converted 3.8l  lhd cars are much higher mileage and probably would have required as much if not more work in restoration but there were also two S38B36 powertrains dropped into 525i Touring donor cars - one of which was for sale recently.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, duncan-uk said:

That's lovely. I've always fancied an m5 touring and made enquiries to the late Keith' of this parish about his but came to nought  if they had made an e39 touring I'm pretty sure one would be in my drive. 


There was a clever fella who turned his rhd E39 540i Touring into a fully fettled rhd E39 M5 Touring a few years ago and has considered selling it from time; I think Richard was aware of it but already having a minty E39 M5 saloon might have not wanted such a similar beast.


Have you owned any E34 before Richard? It would be interesting to hear your comparisons of this and the E39 once you have some miles in the seat. Most people who have owned both will agree the E39 is a huge leap forward in refinement but a small step back in build quality, as well as the E34 being a better drivers car with more feedback and a more gutteral driving experience than the cosseted seat of an E39.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely work. I've never done restoration work to this standard on a car, but have done so with a couple of vintage motorcycles. And then there's the dilemma. Do I keep it looking new, or maybe better than new, or do I use it and accept that the look will, to a degree, be lost? Even on a dry day there may be puddles, mud, even cowsh*t - just about the worst! 

I found it impossible to maintain that new look without devoting more hours to cleaning the machine after using it than I spent riding it! In the end I just used it without looking too closely at the weather forecast. If your classics are used regularly maybe you do the same?  :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic car Richard - I'd be surprised if there will be a better E34 M5 touring in the UK.


I love Avus Blue as well!!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Mr_530i said:

how much has the restoration cost you so far? and how much did you get the car for? 

That's not as easy to answer as you might think.  But suffice it to say that current expenditure is in excess of 50k.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW!! Richard

You are a very lucky man, I had one of these amazing machines a few years back & have to say I still miss it now.

I paid 2600 for mine at a car auction drove it for 4 years & sold it for exactly double 5200 to a guy from Frankfurt who flew over & drove it back!!

Fantastic restoration so far and good luck with the rest.


new pics 036.jpg

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Couple of pictures of the underside of the car.  Still some tidying up to do to the front (oil level sensor cover and compressor for example).






Sun roof and glass tailgate section should be going back in soon, then work can start on the interior.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.