The engines of the BMW E34: A detailed look at the powertrain options

An icon of automotive engineering from the 1990s, the BMW E34 has maintained its status as a desirable classic vehicle admired by enthusiasts around the world. Among the highlights of this model are its impressive powertrain options, which offer a perfect balance of performance, efficiency and reliability. In this in-depth exploration, we’ll dive into the BMW E34’s engines, examining each option in detail, from its technical specifications to its potential problems.

Motor M20B20

The M20B20 engine was one of the powertrain options available for the BMW E34. This 2.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine provided respectable power and solid performance for those looking for a more economical drive. Below are the key specifications of this engine:

ConfigurationSix cylinders in line
Displacement2.0 liters
Power129 hp a 6,000 rpm
Torque160 Nm at 4,200 rpm
Acceleration (0-100)Approximately 10 seconds
Common problemsProblems with seals and oil leaks, premature wear of the timing chain.

Although the M20B20 engine offered a decent combination of power and efficiency, some owners have reported recurring problems, such as faulty seals that can result in oil leaks, as well as premature timing chain wear. However, with proper maintenance, these problems can be significantly mitigated, allowing this engine to be enjoyed reliably and smoothly for many years to come.

Motor M30B35

The M30B35 engine, another highlight in the BMW E34 engine lineup, offered more impressive power and even more exciting performance. With an inline six-cylinder configuration and 3.5-liter displacement, this engine delivered an exhilarating and satisfying driving experience. Key specifications are detailed below:

ConfigurationSix cylinders in line
Displacement3.5 liters
Power208 hp at 5,700 rpm
Torque320 Nm at 4,000 rpm
Acceleration (0-100)Approximately 8 seconds
Common problemsTendency for sediment build-up in the cooling system, oil leakage from the crankshaft seal.

The M30B35 engine offered a significant increase in power and performance over its smaller counterpart, the M20B20. However, some owners have experienced problems related to sediment buildup in the cooling system, which can lead to overheating problems if not properly addressed. In addition, oil leaks from the crankshaft seal are another common problem that requires periodic attention to ensure optimal engine performance.

Motor S38B36

For those seeking the ultimate in performance and driving thrills, the BMW E34 offered the S38B36 engine, a masterpiece of high-performance engine engineering. This 3.6-liter inline six-cylinder engine, derived from BMW’s legendary M88/S38 engines, took the E34’s performance to new heights. Below are the key specifications of this high-octane engine:

ConfigurationSix cylinders in line
Displacement3.6 liters
Power315 hp at 6,900 rpm
Torque360 Nm at 4,750 rpm
Acceleration (0-100)Approximately 6 seconds
Common problemsValve adjustment problems, premature wear of

The S38B36 engine represented the best of the best in terms of performance for the BMW E34. However, its high-performance design also came with certain maintenance challenges. Owners have reported valve adjustment problems, which can affect engine performance and durability if not addressed in a timely manner. In addition, premature wear of valve train components is another potential problem that requires periodic attention to ensure optimum performance and long engine life.

Foto: ©BMW

In conclusion, the BMW E34 engines offer a wide range of propulsion options to meet the needs and preferences of a variety of drivers. From the balance of power and efficiency of the M20B20 to the unbridled performance of the S38B36, each engine offers a unique and exciting driving experience. While maintenance issues can arise over time, with proper care and regular maintenance, these engines can provide years of unmatched driving pleasure for classic car enthusiasts.