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stuclark

Looking to buy an E34, but not sure which one

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I'm new to BMW ownership, but have decided I want to buy an E34, as I've always thought they're one of the best looking bimmers produced in the last 20 odd years.

The question is (and I realise there's no difinitive answer to this), which model should I buy?

I want a car that:

1) is not an estate (so Touring models are out)

2) is as economical as possible to run, on both fuel and maintenance

3) preferably has climate control

4) preferably has leather interior

5) Isn't going to cost me the earth to buy

6) is fun and engaging to drive

7) has enough of a turn of speed / acceleration to not be stuck behind some french 207 thing

I've got a Range Rover CSK at the moment so am all too aware of the scurge of rust and the immense running costs of a V8 (a 3.9 litre in my case), so am looking for something which can return 30+ MPG. From what I've read here and elsewhere, I had decided that a 525i with manual transmition was the way to go, but there's at least one thread on here suggesting that the 525tds auto would be a better choice.

So, what would you all recommend I look for? (I realise the wish list may not all be possible)

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1) is not an estate (so Touring models are out)

2) is as economical as possible to run, on both fuel and maintenance

3) preferably has climate control

4) preferably has leather interior

5) Isn't going to cost me the earth to buy (some good deal to be had)

6) is fun and engaging to drive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7) has enough of a turn of speed / acceleration to not be stuck behind some french 207 thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two letters mate - M5, you will never look back, unless you want to see the surprise on the face of the person you overtook. Had mine 4 years and would have trouble replacing it with better, looking for an E39 M5 but will still keep my E34 ( hopefully).

BTW - This is my biased opinion so feel free to listen to others, but ever day is special when you have an M5 in your drive.

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A nice 525i Sport would fit the bill, think someone is selling their Avus Blue one on here... nice things, decent turn of speed and can coax 30mpg. Will go on forever if maintained well. An auto TDS will be dull as dishwater and not much cheaper to run an maintain.

Or just bugger the costs and get a 540 or M5. :)

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Do not buy an M5. As much as I love them they cost a lot of money to run and maintain properly. Also a good one will cost a fair amount of cash. I know you can buy them relatively cheaply but those cars will cost a packet to get really nice and trouble free.

My first E34 was a '95 525 and it was a lovely car. They tick all your boxes and are relatively plentiful. For £2-3k you can buy and sort out a really decent example. I would try and find a manual if you can although the auto is by no means bad. Most will need a little work, shocks and suspension bushes get a bit of a pounding and the air-con rarely works (beware of the phrase 'just needs a re-gas') Take your time and look at a few, one will jump out as the right car. Check out the classifieds here and on Pistonheads.

Best of luck, you've made a great choice.

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I'd love an M5 if I could afford to run it, but I thought it was generally accepted that the V8 engines (as well as being thirstier) aren't as bullet-proof as the straight 6 ones?

I have to say, I normally would avoid the-fuel-of-satan like the plague, but it was only when someone said a 525tds could be fun that I even considered it.

One further question - does anyone know where I can find sensible MPG figures for all the E34 variants out there (such as the 520, 525, 530, 535 etc)

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youll only ever get over 30mpg in an e34 is if all you drive on are motorways

OK, maybe not over 30, but somewhere close (and better than the 15 - 20 I get out of the rangie) would be nice :)

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525i immediately springs to mind for me as well. The engine sounds good, very reliable, reasonably economical and half decent pace.

Air con may be a little tricky to find and working air con is very rare these days.

Leather is very easy to retrofit so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

525tds is ok but aren't especially economical and can be tempremental. I liked the one I had , it was a manual but the best I could get at 70mph was 37 mpg.

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It seems the consensus is that I was right to think of a 525i manual... should I be specifically bothered to get a 1994 car over a 1990 car? (my rangie is 1990 so I know how old a car like that can feel)

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dunno about the reliabilty of the V8s, mines done 185k and is as fit as a fiddle. Probably helps that it is barely doing 2000 revs at 70. I've had just about every denomination of e34 and would say the 24V 525 manual is the best balance of costs and I did get high 20s and sometimes low 30s. 25V 520 no better really, 525TDS around 30ish, M5 seemed to average about 22mpg, my 540 (auto) about 20. All from memory!!

But really, you have to ask yourself this - at 10000 miles a year, the difference in fuel for a 540 and 525i will probably amount to £50/60 a month. Price worth paying in my book for the grunt and sound. Plus a 540 is likely to be better specced.

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key difference on 1990 and 1994 is the engine - one is a 12V, the latter is 24V. Completely different beasts, 24V is one of BMW's best. Changeover year was 1991, so personally I wouldn't go earlier than that.

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I'd love an M5 if I could afford to run it, but I thought it was generally accepted that the V8 engines (as well as being thirstier) aren't as bullet-proof as the straight 6 ones?

I'd argue it's quite the opposite-the M60 V8 is a tough old lump that is much more tolerant to abuse/poor maintenance (some would say that's the same thing!) than the 6's.

However in your case I agree with the above that a good 525 is definitely the closest you will get to what fits your requirements.

The only thing I would add is that a V8 might not seem too far away in terms of fuel economy to the 525 but with all that power would you be able to stick to driving it sensibly everywhere to get a good return?!

Edited by 540i/6DB

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key difference on 1990 and 1994 is the engine - one is a 12V, the latter is 24V. Completely different beasts, 24V is one of BMW's best. Changeover year was 1991, so personally I wouldn't go earlier than that.

Thanks, now you mention it I do remember reading that elsewhere...

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Age wise it would have to be 1991 onwards with no doubt in my mind!

I have driven all manners of the E34 family and the 24v 525 has always won by being the best all-rounder...

540 is great for the grunt but you will need to buy shares in petrol lol... Even worse with an M5 (try and buy any part for the M5 and you will cry)

518.520 don't compute when looking at the cars (for me personally) as the 4 pot in the 518 is pointless and if you are going to buy a 520 then you may aswell get the 525...

I would steer towards a Sport as it will be better specced and will hold it's money a little better... Ok, so I am toying with selling mine so that might be biased to say but if given the choice between an SE and a Sport then it would be Sport every time...

525i 24v (M50) would be my choice as it could tick every one of your boxes if you find the right specced one (for example, maintanance is cheap as it shares its engine with the E36 325i so parts are VERY common engine wise)

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Age wise it would have to be 1991 onwards with no doubt in my mind!

I have driven all manners of the E34 family and the 24v 525 has always won by being the best all-rounder...

540 is great for the grunt but you will need to buy shares in petrol lol... Even worse with an M5 (try and buy any part for the M5 and you will cry)

518.520 don't compute when looking at the cars (for me personally) as the 4 pot in the 518 is pointless and if you are going to buy a 520 then you may aswell get the 525...

I would steer towards a Sport as it will be better specced and will hold it's money a little better... Ok, so I am toying with selling mine so that might be biased to say but if given the choice between an SE and a Sport then it would be Sport every time...

525i 24v (M50) would be my choice as it could tick every one of your boxes if you find the right specced one (for example, maintanance is cheap as it shares its engine with the E36 325i so parts are VERY common engine wise)

I've spotted your car is for sale... it's a little above what I can afford to spend at the moment as the rangie needs almost the same spending on it, and the gf is insisting I get that one sorted before buying anything else :-(

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BMW E34 525 24V Manual - They go well you get ok MPG from them and alovely sound, Remember reading in Total BMW sometime ago if the fuel pump goes on of them 525td its a 1000 pound to get it sorted.. but dont take my work as the law but im sure i read it, but i would always go for a 540 manul quick car not alot of money to get one and not alot to keep in on the road in good shape, i always think m5 .. M5 Parts , but dont get me wrong i would love to have an M5 :)

Early 520 (M20) have no place im my book i would rather get a late 518, But thats just me after owning a 518 .. 530 V8 are a nice but for the rate they take fuel would be better of getting the big boy :)

Also remember there are two types of 530 there is a V8 one and a straight 6 one in early cars :) and you have M50 525s & 520s and M20 525s & 520s , M50s Being in later cars :)

S.butler

Edited by Ustbutler

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Difficult one in my eyes... for me would have to be a toss up between a 525 sport, a 540 or the wild card 535 sport ( all of which I have owned or have driven )... now head says 525 or 540 as newer versions of those cars can be bought... but the 535 has a lovely engine plenty of grunt and in my mind feel the early 90's cars are better built and last longer if been looked after... what ever you buy rust is the main problem you will come across.... many of nice e34's have fallen to this problem.... so look over the car well, body kits hide many sins..!

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Depending on budget and whether you want to see any money back when you sell how about an E34 Alpina B10 3.5 - there have been a few for sale recently, most very tidy with a high spec and if not abused you should get your money back when you sell. The fuel economy will take a small hit against a 24v 525i but you might not take a hit in depreciation to balance out the sums and the M30 lump is by far and away the toughest engine of anything ever fitted to any E34.

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525i mid to high 20's

or a tds manual will get you ~30mpg

btw a tweaked tds is quicker than my 525i which is no slouch (i owned a modded 525td previously)

not sure what all this talk of 2-3k is that should buy an aboslute minter of a car...personally id expect an incredibly tidy one for under 1k

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Having owned a 525i (M50) auto and now 530i (M60 V8) auto, the 525 was actually considerably better on fuel, cheaper parts and probably the better all rounder as Craig says. But the sound of the V8 is absolutely brilliant which I'm sure you will miss from the rangie.

Perhaps if you want more comfort and economy, an E39 diesel, 530d?

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I've had a 535i/525i and a remapped TDS auto, and they were all fun to drive, but the TDS was the most surprising, nigh on 180bhp and 230-240lbs/ft it was an entertaining car. 50-90mph was especially fun in it. MGP wise i saw 35mpg round the town and 49mpg on a run to surrey and back from Glasgow. and i wasn't hanging about either, plus i had a slght fuel leak at the time as well. So it can do good mpg also the auto's are higher geared than the manuals hence the better mpg on long runs. also the TDS engine is so smooth, not a rough spot on the rev range with it. Just a pity the fuel pumps are it's achillies heel???

I'd say depending on your miles for the year a petrol 525i is probably the sensible choice but i wouldn't totally discount a tds which can be rampped cheaply.

Greig.

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agreed, the only downer to the td/s models is parts and problems, the petrol is easier to fix and maintain

the tds is incredibly easy to remap, im talking a resistor.... and yes it works....

my td was probably 150-160bhp and yes, a 3rd gear roll on from 30 to motorway was ridiculous

Edited by 525td

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I'd love an M5 if I could afford to run it, but I thought it was generally accepted that the V8 engines (as well as being thirstier) aren't as bullet-proof as the straight 6 ones?

M5 e34s have straight 6 engines, the V8s were fitted to the 530/540.

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525/535i - then depending on mileage and how long you are going to keep it consider LPG conversion.

Theres a nice white 535i on here somwhere.

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M5 e34s have straight 6 engines, the V8s were fitted to the 530/540.

Yes, I knew that... my sentence was badly formed, which didn't make it clear I was answering two seperate points...

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