BMW M5 (E34)

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Main article: BMW M5
BMW M5 (E34)
BMW E34 M5 Sedan 02.jpg
ClassMidsize car
Body style(s)4-door sedan
Engine(s)3.6 L S38B36 I6
3.8 L S38B38 I6
Transmission(s)Getrag 280/5 5-speed manual
Getrag Type-D 6-speed manual
Wheelbase108.7 in (2761 mm)
Length185.8 in (4719 mm)
Width68.9 in (1750 mm)
Height54.8 in (1392 mm)
Curb weight3800 lb (1724 kg)
ManualsService Manual

The E34 M5 is a continuation of BMW's M5 series of sports sedans, based on the 5-series. It was produced from 1988 to 1995, although sales in North America started in 1990 and ended in 1993. It was produced at BMW M GmbH in Garching, Germany and like the previous M5, was entirely hand-built. It utilized the 535i chassis which was produced at BMW's Dingolfing plant. Assembly was done either by a single M employee or a team of M employees and generally took about two weeks. It is rumored that the test drivers of the E34 M5 could determine who or what team made each specific M5, due to characteristic quirks of the handbuilt nature of the E34 M5. The engines were also built by hand by BMW M technicians. All of the E34 M5 powerplants were built to 5% of advertised output.


The early E34 M5 used an evolution of the 24-valve I6 found in the E28 M5 and E24 M635CSi/M6. Designated S38B36, the engine technically remains a 3.5 L, with a bore of 93.4 mm and stroke of 86 mm for a total capacity of 3535 cc. The added stroke is due to a new forged steel crankshaft, though the camshafts were also changed. Compression was up slightly (10:1 versus 9.8:1). Other adjustments made included an electronically controlled butterfly valve in the intake plenum which provided better low rpm and mid-range power. The engine also featured an improved flywheel, Bosch Motronic fuel injection, equal length stainless steel headers and three way ceramic catalysts.

Originally it had a displacement of 3.6 L and produced 315 hp (235 kW) at 6900 rpm, and 266 ft·lbf (361 N·m) at 4750 rpm. Cars sold in North America and Switzerland which, due to a different catalytic converter, produced 310 hp (229 kW) and 265 ft·lbf (359 N·m).

In 1992, the engine displacement was increased to 3.8 L with the S38B38, except in North America, which continued with the 3.6 L engine. Power was now increased to 340 PS (335 hp/250 kW). Also in 1992, a Touring version was introduced in LHD form only.

The M5 came with an unusual wheel design. From 1988-1992 the M5 featured the M-System wheels. These wheels were 8x17J, but came with directional bolted-on wheel covers. Under the cover was a black 5-spoke alloy wheel. The press was critical of the design, often claiming it gave the M5 the appearance of having "white-wall" tires. In 1992 BMW changed the design and a new cover was produced – the M-System II. The original intent of the M-System cover was to direct more air to the brake assembly to increase cooling. The cover actually integrated a fin assembly behind the cover. The M-System II covers, known as the "throwing stars" did not have as much capability to direct air to the brake assemblies. In May 1994, the M5 came with M Parallel wheels that did away with the cover.


  • 88-92 (Euro) I6-24v 3.5 L - 315 PS (311 hp/232 kW) (only available with 5-speed manual transmission)
  • 91-95 (Euro) I6-24v 3.8 L - 340 PS (335 hp/250 kW) (also available with 6-speed manual transmission)
  • 89-93 (USA) I6-24v 3.6 L - 310 PS (306 hp/228 kW) (only available with 5-speed manual transmission)
  • 88-95 (EU/USA) - (no automatic transmission available)


  • 89-92 (Euro) I6-24v 3.5 L
    • 0-60 mph (97 km/h): 6.3 s
    • Top speed: 155 mph (250km/h)(electronic limited)
  • 92-95 (Euro) I6-24v 3.8 L
    • 0-60 mph (97 km/h): 5.9/5.7 sec*
    • Top speed: 177 mph (280km/h)(electronic limited)
  • 91-93 (USA) I6-24v 3.6 L
    • 0-60 mph (97 km/h): 6.4 s
    • Top speed: 155 mph (250km/h)(electronic limited)

* (available only with 6-speed manual transmission)

Special versions

There were four special editions of the E34 M5. The Cecotto, Winkelhock and 20 Jahre editions which were offered as LHD Euro specification models while the RHD UK Limited edition was only sold in the United Kingdom.

E34 M5 Cecotto Edition

In 1991, BMW asked two racing drivers to design their "ideal" version of the E34 M5. Johnny Cecotto was one of the drivers and he wanted a host of luxury items fitted on the M5. Including Nappa leather trim for the steering wheel and heated seats.

A total of 22 Cecotto E34 M5s were produced with options of having either Lagoon Green metallic (266) and Mauritius Blue metallic paint (287).

E34 M5 Winkelhock Edition

The other racing driver was touring car ace Joachim Winkelhock. He wanted a lightweight E34 M5 and so some luxury items were removed. His ideal lightweight version M5 featured a smaller battery and the US-spec 81L fuel tank as well as reduced sound deadening and the deletion of some non essential interior items such as rear head rests and vanity mirrors. Recaro front seats and a suede 385 mm M-Technic II steering wheel, shift knob & parking brake lever. The seat design, suede-covered appointments & red seatbelts were similar to those on the Sport Evo E30 M3.

A total of 51 Winkelhock E34 M5s were produced with the options of having Jet Black (668) with contrasting lower body panels in Sterling Silver metallic paint (244).

E34 M5 20 Jahre Motorsport Edition

To celebrate BMW Motorsport 20th anniversary, BMW had built 20 specially equipped Euro-spec M5s in late 1992. These, based on the 3.8 L engine were only in Mugello Red (274) and had a number of aesthetic trim upgrades such as carbon fiber dash panels and special rear view mirrors. Unique seat center & door trim fabric was matched with Alcantara. Alcantara was also used on the steering wheel, shift lever & parking brake lever. Red seatbelts with "BMW Motorsport" were also included.

E34 M5 UK Limited Edition

To commemorate the end of right-hand drive E34 M5 production, 50 examples of the E34 M5 Limited Edition were assembled between March and June 1995 in one of two unique color and trim combinations: Rosso Red metallic (369) with a Champagne extended leather interior and natural poplar wood trim (15 built) or Orinoco metallic (406) with a Bicolor Petrol and Mint extended leather interior and graphite bird's-eye maple wood trim (35 built). Each E34 M5 Limited Edition is equipped with the three-spoke sport steering wheel, Shadowline trim, power sunroof, power front seats, headlight washers and manual air conditioning. A numbered plaque appears on the center console. (Source: bmwmregistry)


The M5 has never been a popular choice for motorsport due to its size and weight. However, VDS Racing Adventures[1] have used an E34 M5 in endurance racing, where weight and nimbleness is less important than in sprint racing. The car features many one-off components, including a wide-arch fibreglass bodykit, but the engine is based on the 3.8-litre S38 straight-six and is almost standard, producing approximately 350bhp. It has also raced in the Belgium Belcar Championship, where it was runner up in 2001.