Have you ever wondered how this iconic model came into being? What makes it so special and beloved by classic car lovers? Join us on this journey back in time as we explore the evolution, design and features that make the BMW E34 a true timeless classic.
The beginnings of the BMW E34
The BMW E34 represents the third generation of the BMW 5 Series and was produced from 2 November 1987 until 1996. Initially, this model was launched as a sedan in January 1988, but also saw the introduction of a family variant called “Touring” in September 1992, the first time the 5 Series had this option. Although BMW officially replaced the E34 with the E39 5 Series in December 1995, E34 Touring models continued in production until June 1996.
Advances and Highlights
The E34 generation marked important advances in the 5 Series. For the first time, all-wheel drive was incorporated into a 5 Series model, with the 525iX model. In addition, the E34 was the first 5 Series model to feature a V8 engine. Innovative features such as stability control (ASC), traction control (ASC+T), a 6-speed manual transmission and adjustable suspension (EDC) were also introduced to the 5 Series range.
Engines and Variants of the BMW E34
One of the most striking features of the BMW E34 is the wide variety of engines that were offered throughout its lifetime. A total of nine different engine families were used, including inline four-cylinder, inline six-cylinder and V8 engines. The iconic BMW M5 E34, for example, was equipped with the S38 inline six-cylinder engine and was produced in both sedan and estate versions.
|Body||Sedan, Touring||Touring||Sedan||Sedan, Touring||Sedan||Sedan, Touring||Sedan||Sedan, Touring|
|Engine identification||M40 B18||M43 B18||M20 B20||M50 B20||M50 TUB20||M20 B25||M50 B25||M50 TUB25|
|Type of engine||L4 8v||L6 12v||L6 24v||L6 12v||L6 24v||L6 12v||V8 32v||L6 12v|
|Cylinder capacity||1796 cm³||1990 cm³||1991 cm³||2494 cm³||2986 cm³||2997 cm³||3430 cm³||3982 cm³|
|CV (kW) @ rpm||113 CV (83 kW) @ 5500||115 CV (85 kW) @ 5500||129 CV (95 kW) @ 6000||150 CV (110 kW) @ 5900||170 CV (125 kW) @ 5800||192 CV (141 kW) @ 5900||188 CV (138 kW) @ 5800||218 CV (160 kW) @ 5800|
|Maximum torque: Nm @ rpm||162 Nm @ 4250||168 Nm @ 3900||164 Nm @ 4300||190 Nm @ 4700||190 Nm @ 4200||222 Nm @ 4300||245 Nm @ 4700||250 Nm @ 4200|
Development and Launch
Development of the BMW E34 took place from July 1981 to early 1987. The initial design proposal was created by Ercole Spada in 1982, under the supervision of chief designer Claus Luthe. Much of the design was based on the BMW 7 Series E32 model. Following Spada’s departure from BMW and approval of the design in 1983, J Mays finalised the design for production in mid-1985. Special attention was paid to aerodynamics, achieving a drag coefficient of 0.30 for the basic E34 sedan.
Series production began in November 1987, and in December of the same year, the E34 sedan was officially presented to the world press. The model aroused great excitement and was praised for its elegant design and innovative technical features.
During its production run, the BMW E34 was assembled at various locations around the world. The main plant was in Dingolfing, Germany, where most of the vehicles were produced. Units were also produced in Rosslyn, South Africa, and in Bangkok, Thailand, specifically the 520iS model.
The E34’s engine line-up ranged from the efficient 1.8-litre M40/M43 four-cylinder petrol engine, to the powerful M20/M50/M30/S38 six-cylinder petrol engines, and the robust 2.4 to 2.5-litre M21/M51 turbocharged diesel engines. Each engine offered its own balance of power, performance and efficiency to suit individual driver preferences and needs.
In terms of dimensions, the E34 had a wheelbase of 2,760 mm and a length of 4,720 mm. Its width was 1,750 mm and the height ranged from 1,412 mm to 1,420 mm, depending on the variant. With an unladen weight ranging from 1,440 kg to 1,800 kg, the BMW E34 offered a solid construction and agile handling that made it a vehicle of high performance and comfort.
The Legacy of the BMW E34
The BMW E34 left an indelible mark on automotive history as one of the most outstanding vehicles of its time. Its elegant design, combined with its excellent performance and cutting-edge technology, made it a favourite among classic car enthusiasts and lovers of the BMW brand.
Over the years, the E34 has gained cult status and acquired value as a collector’s car. Its timeless design and build quality have stood the test of time, and many owners and enthusiasts are dedicated to maintaining and restoring these vehicles to preserve their heritage.
To this day, the BMW E34 remains a popular choice for those looking to experience the thrill of driving a classic and sophisticated automobile. Its balance of luxury, performance and reliability continues to be admired by brand connoisseurs.
In addition, the community of BMW E34 owners and enthusiasts is very active. Events, gatherings and clubs dedicated exclusively to this model are organised, where enthusiasts can share their passion for these vehicles and enjoy the camaraderie that comes from having common interests.