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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Help me decide on buying my next m5. I know that I'm inviting bias by posting here but there is not really any more knowledgeable collective group than you guys so it's worth it.

I've visited two m5s, both interestingly the deep red color options for their year (e34: calypso rot, e60: indianapolis red). 1. Which one should I go with?

E34 M5 summary: 233k miles, hasn't been driven much since 2013, sunroof is taped shut and leaks, 4th gear doesn't engage even when the car is off, owner is a huge ******* and I've spent 5 months back and forth with him. Let's say this is $10k +3-5k to get it in sorted condition.

E60 M5 summary: 2006 smg with 88k miles. Smg work, rod bearing work, no other real history. Seemingly no real issues at the moment. Let's say it's about $15.5k

2.Which one will cost me the most over the next 5 years assuming normal, thorough maintenance?

3.Which one will gain the most value over the next five years?

4.Which one will be the most fun as a daily? Through 30 minute commutes in the mid atlantic region and through many trips.

Bonus points if you've owned either. Extra if you've owned both.
 

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I think I said about the parts becoming NLA/scarce for E34. E34 will gain in value over time, but will have the higher entry cost to fix properly. Same goes for E60 as it requires high maintenance to be reliable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response! How long did you own your e34 m5 for (if you've had one)?

I think I said about the parts becoming NLA/scarce for E34. E34 will gain in value over time, but will have the higher entry cost to fix properly. Same goes for E60 as it requires high maintenance to be reliable.
 

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With the E34 it is older for dealer parts, but not a lot goes wrong (present condition of the car you are looking at excepted). Nothing very advanced, so all fixable, one way or the other.

The E60 may be more fragile, but it sounds like it all works. The power level between the two is enormous. I love my E34, but a turbo hatchback feels faster now. I guess it depends on what else you've got... If you have more modern power available then the E34, but if not then it's difficult to pass up the E60.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
With the E34 it is older for dealer parts, but not a lot goes wrong (present condition of the car you are looking at excepted). Nothing very advanced, so all fixable, one way or the other.

The E60 may be more fragile, but it sounds like it all works. The power level between the two is enormous. I love my E34, but a turbo hatchback feels faster now. I guess it depends on what else you've got... If you have more modern power available then the E34, but if not then it's difficult to pass up the E60.
Thanks for the sound advice. This will be my only car, and I'm not particular about having a lot of power as long as it's fun to drive. I haven't really bought anything above 350hp. E36 m3, URS4, e30, e46, e90.

Does your e34 ever feel like it's lost its luster to drive? Or does it still feel capable enough to have fun in? The guy never let me drive that m5 more than 30-40mph, and I've never driven another e34 m5.
 

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:) it's certainly fun to drive. You find that you need to rev it more than modern (boosted) cars. When you do it is exhilarating... Takes off at high RPM and that sound is unbeatable.

I used mine as a daily driver for about 12 years, single, married, with 3 kids. Still have it, can't imagine parting with it.
 

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Currently own an s38b38 and s85b50 (the engines in the e34 and e60 m5s) the power delivery in both are very similar — as they really come alive after 4000 rpm in OEM trim. Bummer you were limited below 30 mph to 40 mph on your test drive, the s38 really never had a chance to sing!

Having owned other generations of m5s, I really think the s85 is the natural successor to the s85, as they both have the same type of power delivery in the rev range. As far as maintenance, the s85 has the added expense of 4 more cylinders to maintain. Both engines will set you back a pretty penny, if there is any deferred maintenance. These cars are only as good as their previous owners dedication to staying ahead of any maintenance.

I’ve had my 6 speed s85 for the last 10 years. In that time, I’ve gone through 3 duty cycles of wear items, now that I’m at 173,000+ miles. If you click the link in my signature, you can read much of my e60m5 experience.

Personally, I’d favor the analog e34 over the SMG e60 — because the e34 has 3 pedals and was the last hand assembled m5. 3 pedal e60m5s are still very analog, but their prices are already on the move.

Good luck!
 

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The E34 M5 I bought over a year ago had largely sat for 7 years. It ran and drove, and I've put 5k miles on it so far. I've discovered that everything just needs to be gone through with a fine tooth comb. The engine is solid though, I wouldn't buy the E34 unless I had a compression test done. If you have the space, time, and resources to do the repairs yourself, I think the E34 may be best in the big picture, but be prepared to replace everything rubber from fuel lines to brake lines to bushings etc. For reference mine has been out of commission about 6 months out of the last 14, not from breaking down, but just stuff like changing control arm bushings turning into full brake rebuilds and suspension overhauls. After the brakes I'll have to sort the 2 small coolant leaks involving corroded NLA parts (a previous BMW indie shop used the wrong coolant, thanks guys) and my fuel delivery issues.

I haven't owned an E60 M5, but I have owned an SMG II E46 M3. It was my daily and I enjoyed the SMG box, contrary to many other people's opinions. It acts like a manual transmission, if you drive it like a manual transmission you have way more control over it. I drove in S5 mode (the hardest shifting before you had to disengage traction control) and if you lifted off the throttle just a little in between shifts it was well mannered. If you didn't, it would shift faster but harder.

a 233k mile S38 might be nearing the place that you need a valve job, and new rings. At that point it's going to have to come all the way apart. The Getrag 280 is also not really rebuildable, most people won't do it.

I won't tell you what one to pick, but I came from a 213k mile SMG M3 when I bought my 1991 M5 and sometimes I wish I wasn't dealing with fixing the 100 little problems with the car and had my M3 back, even though I would still prefer a sorted E34 M5 to an E46 M3.
 

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As always - great information in this thread so far, IMHO. I was hoping Woody would chime in, as I knew he would have the best 1:1 experiences for the OP! He is also very right in that 30-40mph is an E34 M5's weakest point. That was the range the 540i was designed for :)

To distill this back down to basics: while I agree wholeheartedly with Woody that the S85 was far more a traditional M5 motor than the S62 (E39 M5 lump), if you look at the chassis/body/interior separate from motors, I think OP also needs to determine if they want to drive a much more modern, Bangle-designed, feature-laden car. Many of the points in that sentence are widely considered an advantage, especially as most consider the design to have aged well (thank you, G80 M3/M4...).

The E34, even the museum pieces at BMW, are still very old cars with less amenities, comfort, refinement, etc. Personally, that is exactly why I like the E34 and prefer it over more modern cars. But these two chassis (E34 v E60) are so different that I think this has to drive a good portion of your decision-making. It's tough for me to imagine cross-shopping this pair because they are separated by so many years, which makes them so different from an ergonomics, ownership, livability standpoint, etc.

In the next five years, the E34 will absolutely continue climbing in value while the E60 is currently the cheapest generation M5 one can buy. I think E60s will have their day, as they should. Consensus on the block is, if not an E34 now, then when? It sucks to buy high! I don't think you will lose money on either option.
 

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As always - great information in this thread so far, IMHO. I was hoping Woody would chime in, as I knew he would have the best 1:1 experiences for the OP! He is also very right in that 30-40mph is an E34 M5's weakest point. That was the range the 540i was designed for :)

To distill this back down to basics: while I agree wholeheartedly with Woody that the S85 was far more a traditional M5 motor than the S62 (E39 M5 lump), if you look at the chassis/body/interior separate from motors, I think OP also needs to determine if they want to drive a much more modern, Bangle-designed, feature-laden car. Many of the points in that sentence are widely considered an advantage, especially as most consider the design to have aged well (thank you, G80 M3/M4...).

The E34, even the museum pieces at BMW, are still very old cars with less amenities, comfort, refinement, etc. Personally, that is exactly why I like the E34 and prefer it over more modern cars. But these two chassis (E34 v E60) are so different that I think this has to drive a good portion of your decision-making. It's tough for me to imagine cross-shopping this pair because they are separated by so many years, which makes them so different from an ergonomics, ownership, livability standpoint, etc.

In the next five years, the E34 will absolutely continue climbing in value while the E60 is currently the cheapest generation M5 one can buy. I think E60s will have their day, as they should. Consensus on the block is, if not an E34 now, then when? It sucks to buy high! I don't think you will lose money on either option.
Brent,

I would also add, the newest e60 platform is 11 years old. Much like the e34, almost every little bit of rubber or plastic is reaching the end of it's service life -- either due to mileage or age.

The cheapest e60m5 will be the most expensive e60m5 if you don't have the wherewithal/resources to baseline the car. Resources include your time to baseline the car or the opportunity cost for a competent independent shop to baseline the car.

For better or worse, the modern e60 conveniences of bluetooth and heated/cooled seats are nice. The other tech in the e60 (idrive, SMG, voice commands, HUD) is based on 15 year old tech, which has been largely surpassed by a family Camry. Imagine trying to use the first generation iphone from 2007 in today's world.

Meanwhile, the analog e34 may have been surpassed by current technology, but the analog nature will never be out of date. There is no "tech" to go out of date. Best example -- I'm not giving up any of my mechanical Swiss watches for an iwatch anytime soon.

I think the OP can't go wrong with an e34.

Cheers!
 

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I have E34 M5, E39 M5 and also E60 M5 SMG. Each is quite different and has its pros and cons when compared directly to another.

The E34 is the simplest of the bunch to work on both electrically and mechanically. The biggest challenge with a E34 M5 will be dealing with certain electrical, interior or motor items that are NLA or very tough to find. For example, with my 95 M5 3.8, the MAFs are NLA so if it goes south, the car is down till one is sourced and who knows how long that could take. If this is your only car then you need to factor these types of issues in a get prepared/have spares.

Overall, based on your description and lack of ability to drive the car over 40 mph, I'd bet the front suspension is shot and has the classic E34 shimmy. You will need to budget 10k to go stem to stern to bring that high mileage of an E34 M5 back to reliability for a couple years. Think through things like blower motor, fan resistor, window regulators, door actuators, aux fan, AC compressor etc etc. Unless you really go through it you will be dealing with those items pretty much every couple months and it will be challenging if its your daily driver.

The E60 M5 is the most complex due to modules, interfaces and complexity with the SMG. Most parts are still readily available but the price new for certain items is very steep. Go in with eyes wide open and be prepared to troubleshoot motor and SMG by yourself with your own tools first. If you can't do this yourself, the car is more than likely to bust out 5k invoices at shops on an annual basis if you dont get ahead on certain items like rod bearings, vanos lines and pump, throttle actuators ionic modules coils SMG pump and slave etc.

All that said, they are excellent machines but have very different ownership challenges due to life cycles each is currently in both parts wise (new or used) and given status of how many are still on the road and getting parted out as well.

GL with your decision.
 

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My two cents;

I think I know the e34 m5 your talking about/ I have "communicated" with the owner. It's in Vegas, right. Or was? I quickly discovered that it wasn't worth continuing the conversation after the initial inquiry. I just traded some messages/ emails but I don't think English is his first language and none of my questions were being answered. So I moved on. It's a great spec e34 m5, though it seems its been in a state of neglect for MANY years. Even before the current ownership. My assessment of that car, it's worth maybe 8-9k. The "rule" on a e34 m5 is- it's a 20k plus car. If you buy one for 15 plan to spend 5 to fix what needs fixing, buy one for 10, plan on spending another 10. And that's purely getting it road worthy/ fixing what's broken, not getting it to look good. The trans on that one is what worries me most.


I have no experience with the e60 so I'll just respond based on my experience with the e34. But if I was looking for a s85 car it would be an m6. Purely from a looks stand point. The e60 just doesn't appeal to me. Although I wouldn't get either, I'd go for a e90 m3 (sedan). I think it looks better than both the e60 m5 and m6, similar performance and it is much easier to find a good one.

2.Which one will cost me the most over the next 5 years assuming normal, thorough maintenance? For the one your looking at plan on spending 10k the first year or two to get it "right". That's going through every system; engine, trans, suspension, electric, fuel, cooling, etc. and assuming you can do a fair amount of the work yourself. If you have a shop do everything double it. Then you'll be at the basic maintenance stage. There will always be something that needs fixing but you can get to the point where it's not needed immediately. Something that prevents you from getting to work. Budget 1k plus per year for the e34

3.Which one will gain the most value over the next five years? I'd say the e34, I believe they have reached the bottom of the deprecation curve and are on the way up. I cant say the same for the e60.

4.Which one will be the most fun as a daily? Through 30 minute commutes in the mid atlantic region and through many trips.- I've never used my e34 as a commuter but I'd say the e60 would be better suited for it. Just from a more modern/ creature comfort stand point. There are ways to modernize the e34 but its still a 25 plus year old car

Bonus points if you've owned either. Extra if you've owned both.

I would love to see someone get that e34 back to it's former glory. It would just take someone seriously dedicated. But at the end of the day even if it was completely restored it would still be a 200k plus mile m5 and probably not worth a whole lot more than 20-25k. If it's the one I am thinking of and you really want a e34, my advice, spend more and get a better example.
 
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