BMW 5 Series (E34) 1988-1996

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BMW 5 Series (E34)

The BMW E34 is the version of the BMW 5 Series automobile built from February 1988 to 1995 with the Touring model ending June 1996. It replaced the BMW E28 in 1988 and was replaced by the E39 in 1996. Development ran from July 1981 to 1987, with design specifications being chosen in 1983.


In the North-American market the E34 succeeded the BMW E28 in May 1988 [5] with two models. The 525i used the BMW M20 engine while the 535i used the larger M30. The cars were a blend of BMW tradition and modern technology. BMW's traditional FR layout and straight-6 were used, providing the smooth engine and optimal weight distribution BMW customers had come to expect. New 5-series also had a much stiffer body and was more streamlined than its predecessor, and had design cues introduced in 1986 on the 7-series by designer Ercole Spada.


The E34 was among the most reliable luxury cars on the market, earning the best-in-class ratings from Intellichoice in 1991, and still considered one of the most reliable BMWs ever made.[6] It was also one of the safest cars on the road during its production, providing airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, and a very rigid body structure to protect occupants in the event of an accident.[6] It was also equipped with automatic stability control (ASC) or traction control (ASC+T) in later years on higher-specification variants.

Manufacturer  BMW

Production  1988–1996

1,333,412 built

Assembly  Dingolfing, Germany

Toluca, Mexico

Predecessor  BMW E28

Successor  BMW E39

Class  Mid-size, executive car

Body style  4-door sedan

4-door station wagon

Layout  FR layout

Platform  BMW E34

Engine  Gasoline


1.8 L M40B18

1.8 L M43B18


2.0 L M20B20

2.0 L M50B20

2.5 L M20B25

2.5 L M50B25

3.0 L M30B30

3.5 L M30B35

3.6 L S38B36

3.8 L S38B38


3.0 L M60B30

4.0 L M60B40



2.4 L M21D24

2.5 L M51D25UL

2.5 L M51D25OL

Transmission  Automatic

4-speed ZF

5-speed ZF


5-speed Getrag

6-speed Getrag

Wheelbase  2,761 mm (108.7 in)

Length  4,720 mm (185.8 in)

Width  1,751 mm (68.9 in)

Height  1,412 mm (55.6 in)

1,417 mm (55.8 in) (touring)

Curb weight  1,565 kg (3,450 lb)

Related  BMW M5



While Europe was given a large selection of engine choices and combinations, the North American market was more limited. While North America received only the 525i, 525i Touring, 535i, 530i, 530i Touring, 540i, and the M5, the European market also got the E34 518i, 520i, 6-cylinder 530i, diesel 525td/s, 525iX, M5 touring and 540i Touring. The cars were also available earlier in Europe than in America.


Models were distinguished in the same fashion as BMW E32 7 series cars - by the grille. V8 models (and 520/525 after 1994 for the 1995 model year) were equipped wide grille, while other sported narrow "kidneys".

BMW E34 sedan (Europe)

BMW 525i Touring (Europe)

BMW 525i sedan (US) – with narrow grille

BMW 525i M20 I6 engine



The 525i was built throughout the E34 production, and in 1992 was offered as a wagon (touring version) in the USA. In June 1990 (1991MY), the engine was switched from the single overhead cam M20 engine to the double overhead cam M50B25 engine, raising power from 170 to 192 horsepower (141 kW - US Specifications were: 168 to 189 hp gain.) Also, fuel economy improved by ten percent, and a change from a timing belt to a timing chain improved reliability. A further revision of the 525i engine took place in 1993, when VANOS was added to the M50 engine which was designated the M50TU. The TU represents a Technical Update, reflecting the variable valve timing technology (VANOS) added to the intake camshaft. VANOS brought no horsepower increase, but flattened the torque curve from about 3,000 rpm up to redline at approximately 6,300 rpm. Torque on the US Vanos Engine was raised from 181 ft-lb to 184 ft-lb. 0-60 mph times with automatic transmission dropped to 9.1 sec. vs. 10.0 from the Non-VANOS equipped M50 motor - a significant improvement. M50 engine was the most popular variant sold in NA[citation needed]. The 525i was also the most popular E34 model globally - close to 250,000 units were produced.



The 525iX was the only four-wheel-drive version in the E34 series. It was available both as a sedan and a touring wagon version. This version was equipped with M50B25 engine, and automatic or manual transmission. It features a computer-controlled rear and centre differentials. TXUETAhe centre differential normally would divide 36% torque to the front axle and 64% to the rear axle, but could adjust the ratio according to driving conditions in case wheels of one of the axles started to slip. Only 9366 BMW e34 525iX were made, this model is very rare today.



The six-cylinder E34 530i was available in Europe starting in 1988 but it never arrived in North America. It had a M30B30 3.0-liter inline-6 engine producing 188 bhp (140 kW). This European version of the 530i was discontinued in 1990. In 1992, a new eight-cylinder 530i model was introduced in Europe, later arriving in North America in 1994. Replacing the 535i, it had the new M60, 32-valve DOHC 3.0-liter V8 engine producing 218 bhp (163 kW). It was also offered in a touring version.




Despite the 535i designation and '3.5' casting on the intake manifold, the M30 engine found in the E34 535i was actually 3430cc (3.4 liters). The M30 is rated at 211 PS (155 kW; 208 hp) at 5700 rpm and 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm. US Specifications were 208 hp and 225 ft-lb torque. The car can get 14–17 miles per U.S. gallon (17 to 14 L/100 km) city and 20-23 mpg (U.S.) highway. In North America a limited slip differential was available, together with heated front seats, as an optional winter package. ASC was first available on 1991 models. Just over 5,000 535i's were made with the 5-speed transmission, making this combination very sought after by BMW enthusiasts. Production of the E34 535i and its engine ended in 1993, replaced by the V8 530i and 540i models.

BMW 535i M30 I6 engine

535i Sport & 525i Sport (UK)


The E34 535i Sport was introduced to the UK market as an 1989 model. Production of the 535i Sport and the iconic M30B35 engine ended in 1993 to be succeeded by the 525i Sport powered by the modern M50B25 24-valve engine.


525i Sport 1992–1995 192 bhp @5900 rpm and 181 lb·ft (245 N·m) @ 4700 rpm.

535i Sport 1989–1993 211 bhp @ 5700 rpm and 225 lb·ft (305 N·m) @ 4000 rpm.


All official UK Sport models came factory fitted with aerodynamic M Technic body styling consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts and M Technic rear boot spoiler. In addition to this they also came factory fitted with the following standard equipment - cloth or leather BMW sports seats - leather trim was a £1079 optional extra, M Technic I or II steering wheel, limited-slip differential, 30 mm lower M Technic sports suspension manufactured by Boge/Bilstien, close ratio 5-speed manual gearbox or the switchable (EH) 4-speed ZF automatic transmission which was an £1860 optional extra, Blaupunkt Cambridge radio/tape unit + 6 stereo speakers, On board computer and cruise control (standard equipment on 535i sport and options on the 525i sport), front fog lights, ABS, electric windows front and rear, electric steel sunroof, shadowline tail pipe trim, chrome exterior trim or shadowline trim which was a £389 cost option, 15" BBS alloy wheels - the very earliest Sport models came with larger 415 mm BBS forged TRX alloys with metric tyres. The very last 525i Sport models came with a black roof lining and dark maple wood veneer interior trim. The optional extras list for both Sport models was extensive and could push the standard £34,480 (1989 535i sport manual) list price up considerably.



In 1993 BMW added a 4.0-liter V8 to the 5 Series lineup. It was available in both sedan and touring models (the latter not in US). Its large, torquey engine, upgraded brakes, and 5-speed automatic or rare optional 6-speed transmission (offered in 1995 in North America, and from 1993 to 1996 in Europe) made it very competitive in the sports sedan market. Only 3203 examples of the 540i 6spd were produced, in the following versions;


HE51 LHD European Limousine; 797 Examples

HE52 RHD European Limousine; 249 Examples

HE53 LHD North American Limousine; 1524 Examples

HK31 LHD European Touring; 499 Examples

HK32 RHD European Touring; 62 Examples

HE98 RHD South African Limousine; 72 Examples


The HE98 was made in Rosslyn South Africa for the local market.

BMW M5 S38 I6 engine

Engines and performance


A few enhancements to the body's cosmetics and functionality, as well as a slew of engine and transmission evolutions, have appeared throughout its years of production. Among those, BMW's VANOS variable valve timing technology made its first appearance in the M50 2.5 L engines built in September 1992 and later.


Both the E34 BMW 530i and 540i shared the M60 engine, which used Nikasil bore linings. In America and the United Kingdom this made both susceptible to premature engine wear, as high sulphur content in petrol in those markets resulted in deterioration of the linings. BMW then introduced an Alusil version of this engine, which solved the problem. In the USA and UK sulfur rich fuel is being phased out. Nikasil engines are unlikely to be a problem today, as cars with affected engines are off the road or have received replacement engines, and or were not affected.

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