The BMW M5 special edition "20 Jahre BMW Motorsport" (in English: "20 Years of BMW Motorsport") is one of the rarest M automobiles in existence. Only 20 were ever made and one of them belongs to the BMW M development engineer and former racer Jörg Weidinger. In the interview he tells us how he came to own this very limited edition vehicle, what makes this particular M5 so fascinating and why this collectors’ piece needs to be driven the way it was intended.
How long have you been with BMW M?
I’ve been at BMW M since 2013. After a great start to my career in predevelopment (BMW Technik GmbH), I spent a few years in chassis development at BMW, before going to BMW M. A lot of my colleagues thought that was the best place for me. And ten years later I’m still here, so I guess they must have been right!
Mr Weidinger, you’re the owner of a very rare special edition BMW M: a BMW "20 Jahre BMW Motorsport" edition M5 of the second BMW M5 generation, the E34. How did that come about?
About 15 years ago, the vehicle was advertised in the BMW internal small ads. A colleague at the Dingolfing plant had owned and cherished the M5, but wanted to sell it. I’d never actually heard of this special edition and it didn’t take me long to make up my mind, especially as the price at the time was a pretty fair one.
I’d been fascinated by the M5 E34 ever since my apprenticeship at BMW in the early 1990s. This will certainly have been influenced by a taxi-ride I had as a 16-year old apprentice in a Daytona-violet M5 E34 with DTM works driver Jockel Winkelhock at a staff day on the run-in track at the Regensburg plant.
An M5 E34 in Mugello Red must be a real head-turner in the street. What’s your special fascination for this vehicle in particular?
Apart from the M5 E34 and the engine which is rich in history, it’s above all the rarity of this special edition. But also the rigorous realization of the idea, from the special Recaro seats with their own unique material to the red seatbelts with BMW Motorsport lettering and lots of other details – right through to the adaptation of the wing mirrors from the M3 E36, which were very special at the time.
With a 3.8-litre inline-6-cylinder and 340 hp, the BMW M5 E34 was one of the fastest limousines in the world in the early 1990s. When you get behind the wheel, do you still put your foot down or do you go easy on such a collector’s item?
No, when it’s properly warmed up, then I drive it as it should be driven, no question! The engine is built for it, the whole engine design is thirsty for revs and not just load-free trundling. You already notice when the engine’s idling that this is an old-school sports engine at work: Compared with today’s engines, the idle is fairly uneven and that tells the sports fan before the car’s even moved that the engine valve timing is pretty sporty. But that’s the way it was back then and no-one would have thought to question it!
What was your best experience with the vehicle?
The car is constantly creating great experiences, whether you’re looking at it, cleaning it or driving it. Although the E34 isn’t an old-timer yet, you get a lot more questions and positive feedback in public than you’d think. One very special experience for me and the car was a photo-shoot for "sport auto" magazine a few years ago. It was the presentation of the F90 M5 Competition and my M5 played an important part.
Do you think that by definition a sports car has to be a two-seater? Or is a model like the BMW M5 also a full-on sports car?
I personally love the philosophy of understatement which we had at BMW M back then and still have today! A full-on limousine, without restrictions as regards space and long-distance aptitude, but which thanks to its connection not just with the engine but also driving pleasure is a extremely sporty vehicle, I like that! But for me this philosophy doesn’t exclude the idea of an even more rigorous sports car, and I’d love to work on that!
Motor racing know-how and development competence: Jörg Weidinger has worked for more than 20 years at BMW and since 2013 for M. The former racing driver is still active and successful in motorsport. Hill climbs, 24-hour races, touring or racing cars: Jörg Weidinger has piloted very many different kinds of racing car. He’s a versatile driver who knows exactly where to find those final tenths of a second.