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The 1988 BMW M5 E34.

The second-generation BMW M5 will house the six-cylinder engine of the legendary BMW M1 for one last time. For the very first time, a touring model joined the M5 line-up in 1992.

15 August 2017

The 1998 BMW M5 E34 is more than just a fast sedan – it has always symbolised speed, elegance, and driving pleasure with a deliberately understated design. Through today, it keeps its promise: Its powerful six-cylinder engine (that hails from the legendary BMW M1) is ready for anything: 0–100 km/h in around six seconds with a electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. Very few same-class competitors could match that. The precise steering and agile handling of the BMW M5 E34 turn every corner into pure pleasure while the exquisite interior and sport-tuned suspension ensure a high level of comfort, even on longer trips.


  • The last M5 with a modified M1 engine
  • Displacement: 3,535 cm³ to 3,795 cm³
  • Max. output: 232 kW (315 hp) to 250 kW (340 hp)
  • Maximum speed: 250 km/h (limited)
  • Available as a touring model for the first time


The second-generation sports sedan is meant to appeal to even more customers than its predecessor the BMW M5 E28. To manage that, the performance had to be ramped up. The new model with its 1,670 kilograms of modern technology, more safety features, stiffer chassis, as well as sophisticated soundproofing make the car 250 kilos heavier than its predecessor. Despite the additional weight, the M5 E34 effortlessly reached M typical performance levels with its increased power and improved aerodynamics: The sedan reached its electronically limited 250 km/h top speed and 100 km/h from a dead standstill in just 6.3 seconds. The four-valve six-cylinder engine created 232 kW (315 hp) in the first stage (S38B36) from 3,535 cm³ of displacement. In the S38B38 engine after the 1992 facelift, the displacement increased to 3,795 cm³ and the output to 250 kW (340 hp).

Increased displacement came from increasing the stroke from 86 to 90 millimetres and the bore diameter from 93.4 to 94.6 millimetres. Each cylinder still had its own throttle valve. As was the standard at the time, the car came with a catalytic converter. Exhaust passed through a modified exhaust system that was taken from the V12 of the BMW 750i.

Final faceliftFinal facelift

Final facelift

The M5 had its final facelift halfway through 1994. Alongside a six-speed gearbox, the facelift included 18-inch parallel-spoke wheels, a larger braking system, and active suspension. The most notable visual change was the wider front with kidney grille and hood that previously only the 5-Series V8 models – the 530i and 540i – sported.


Intake manifold with speed- and load-regulated oscillating tube lengthIntake manifold with speed- and load-regulated oscillating tube length

Sports engines are generally appreciated for their high rev ability and power delivery in the upper rev range. In order for the engine to deliver noticeable power in the lower rev range, the M engineers had to come up with a high-end technical solution: the intake manifold with resonance charging. To increase torque in the lower and middle speed ranges, the BMW M utilised precisely calculated vibrations in the intake manifold with speed- and load-regulated oscillating tube length. The result: a maximum torque of 360 Nm at 4,750 rpm with at least 80% of it already available from 2,900 rpm.


"Turbine-wheels" of the BMW M5 E34, increasing the air flow within the rim "Turbine-wheels" of the BMW M5 E34, increasing the air flow within the rim

To this day, fans appreciate that the M5 E34 is so understated. Compared to the less powerful production models, it sits only 20 millimetres lower. Possibly the most prominent feature of the M models are the rims. With 17-inch wheels, they were relatively large for the time. Inside the wheel rims, turbine-like fan inserts (made of magnesium die-casting) were installed that increased the air flow within the rim by approximately 25%, thus providing better cooling for the brakes. Innovation taken directly from motorsport.

25 percent25 percent

25 percent

The air flow from the turbine-like fans cooled the brakes by an additional 25%.


First BMW M5 TouringFirst BMW M5 Touring

After the model update in 1992, a touring model of the M5 became available for the first time. The developers’ aim was to combine the practicality of an estate car with the performance of an M automobile. The technology in the M5 sedan – derived from motorsport – was tweaked slightly before being adopted by the touring model. The results spoke for themselves: The performance of the M5, despite the extra cargo space, barely differed from that of the sedan.

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Special edition BMW M5Special edition BMW M5

The 1992 BMW M5 Special Edition “20 Years of Motorsport” belongs to the rarest of the BMW M models. Only 20 in total were built. Special Recaro seats with M upholstery, red seatbelts with BMW Motorsport lettering, and a Mugello Red paint finish distinguish this powerful 340 hp sports sedan.

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Despite being a road-ready prototype with a 315 hp in-line six-cylinder it never went into production: Only a single BMW M5 Convertible was ever built and its two doors are longer than the sedan’s, to make the back seats more easily accessible. The boot is also longer than that of the production model, to accommodate the soft top compartment. The hydraulically powered convertible roof was a soft top.


In total, 11,989 units of the BMW M5 E34 were produced. Of them, only 891 of them were BMW M5 Touring models. Both are highly desirable and sought-after classics with high value appreciation potential. That’s not a surprise: The BMW M5 E34 is more than simply the second generation of the beloved BMW M5 Model Series. It represents an era defined by motorsport that constantly pushed boundaries. Whether at Community meetups, track days, or in everyday use, the 1988 BMW M5 E34 has already reached legendary status today.

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