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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's an honor to be back among the E34 crowd!

Much of this story is me being an idiot. I apologize for that in advance!

Back in '06, after picking my 1994 M5 up from my mechanic after getting a lot of work done on the top of the engine, I was leisurely driving to work when I threw a rod through my block. I towed it right back to where it came from. My mechanic said that 3.8 short blocks show up for sale now and again, and that he'd get me one.

I had been planning on adding an E39 M5 to my arsenal, so I picked that time to pull the trigger. I did, and much time passed, but still no block. I wanted to really avoid the expense of ordering one from BMW of Germany, so I waited it out. Meanwhile, he was nice enough to let the car sit on his lot. At one point, however, he sold the place and took it with him with no forwarding info and no notice. After some years of off-and-on searching (albeit not thoroughly enough), I finally tracked him and the car down and am picking it up on Saturday.

Anyway, what can I expect from this? It sat outside, with a car cover, for 9 years.

First and foremost, what can I do about the engine? Can I still get a short block from BMW, and what kind of costs can I expect? Or am I actually likely to find an S38B38 floating around somewhere?

Second, what about other parts that would be required for a car that sat for so long?

Third, I can't imagine what shape the interior is in at this point; any thoughts in this vein would also be appreciated.

I am not really a a mechanical guy; I mean, I'll give it my best go working on things and am moderately handy, but my knowledge of extensive automotive repairs is lacking. Some of you on here just absolutely blow my mind with what you are able to do with your hands. I have a good mechanic, but is getting someone else to do much of this work going to absolutely kill me?

I'll update with pictures once I have the car (haven't seen it yet!).
 

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Interesting story, and good luck with it.

Before you start this I would think hard about the total costs of the restoration and how this will map to the value of the car once you're done. As well as the engine (I would imagine used ones come up from time to time but how much life they have left is a crapshoot), and any cosmetic issues (bodywork, interior) you also need to think about bushes, shocks (is at an EDC car ? - that is expensive), fuel, brake and EDC lines, fuel tank corrosion (due to condensation) - the list goes on and on

if the car had low mileage, strong history and was good cosmetically then the end result might just make this worth doing.....

but if not I would give serious consideration to the other option of selling it for parts (no bad thing as the rest of us need parts from somewhere) and putting that toward another used example

Not trying to be negative - if you did choose the restoration it would be a wonderful thread for us all to read, just think about the economics before you start
 

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Interesting story.

I concur with the others. Unless your example is a well-specced low miler, this will very much be a labour of love rather than an exercise that would please your bank manager.

Whatever you decide, keep us in the loop, and enjoy!

Lantz

PS. My own car is a high mileage and relatively low spec example - but it will be renovated regardless at some point down the line
 

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Sitting around that much time I'm guessing hoses either dried out or got chewed up by mice, some harnesses might've gone out too. I'd think you'd be paying close to the value of the car to get it fully restored. Might be worth it if decked out with interesting options and low mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all of the encouraging replies, all!
@MattH: I'll definitely weigh it out when I get a chance to look at it. If it's in the condition it was in 9 years ago, then that's one thing. But that isn't likely. I can't remember if it is EDC for sure, but I tend to think that it isn't. I'll be sure to keep this thread updated and take lots of pictures.
@corneredge: I may take you up on that! I'm in Central Jersey -- shore-side. How about yourself?
@Lantz: You are probably right. I don't mind that being slightly true. I never would expect this to be a for-profit venture. That said, I would still like to avoid being caught in a money-pit situation where I'm throwing good money after bad. Either way, I'm definitely going to be hanging around. Saturday is my pickup day, so I'll have much more info for you all then. I just went to go put insurance on it online and, low and behold, there is no 1994 M5 listed in their database. I forgot about little issues like that hahaha.

@sugaki: Good points. IIRC, mileage was around 70,000 mi. Kind of middle of the road I guess. I would mostly be going stock with replacement stuff, but a few tweaks along the way.


Does anyone have any approximate costs regarding just doing the engine, work and parts, based on what's been said around here? I just wanted to have some numbers in my head for when I start really figuring out how to go about things.
 

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there aren't a lot of 94's in the US. Still, they're not that valuable yet, but they're rare. Depends on the condition of the car/interior really. IF there's much rust, it's probably not worth the restoration. If the body is clean, finding a short block is doable. I'm not sure if you can still get a block and pistons for a 3.8, especially getting it into the US with bmw na blocking euro parts. But there are some used ones to be found.

since there was no 94 m5 in the US, insurance might be not so straightforward. Give your agent/company a call. IT's pretty cheap to go with a collector car policy like haggerty.

70k miles is really low, but the cluster should be in km, if it's milage, it might have been replaced when the car was federalized, so you may not know the car's real milage.

Car should have edc, unless it was deleted, which hurts value a bit.
 

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Does anyone have any approximate costs regarding just doing the engine, work and parts, based on what's been said around here? I just wanted to have some numbers in my head for when I start really figuring out how to go about things.
Engine rebuild ~10k$, bodywork and interior another 10k. Brakes, suspension etc 5k$.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
@corneredge: I got your PM. Thanks! If you don't mind, can you PM me your e-mail address, because my ability to PM is still limited?

@mottati: Thanks for all that info. It's really helpful. I guess that is possible the odometer was replaced. I obtained the car back in 2003. It was federalized by that owner, who had brought it with him when he moved to the US from Poland (I don't know when that was). It had approximately 40,000 mi at the time I purchased it. Unfortunately, I don't have any of the other info that might explain whether or not that mileage was accurate.

When and why did BMW NA start blocking Euro parts? I was always told I could always order one from BMW Germany, but I guess this is no longer an option. And what sources do you recommend I use to try to obtain a used block and other parts?

@Eero H: Thanks. That helps me a lot to get an idea of things.


Thanks all. I appreciate the discussion very much.
 

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@mottati: Thanks for all that info. It's really helpful. I guess that is possible the odometer was replaced. I obtained the car back in 2003. It was federalized by that owner, who had brought it with him when he moved to the US from Poland (I don't know when that was). It had approximately 40,000 mi at the time I purchased it. Unfortunately, I don't have any of the other info that might explain whether or not that mileage was accurate.

When and why did BMW NA start blocking Euro parts? I was always told I could always order one from BMW Germany, but I guess this is no longer an option. And what sources do you recommend I use to try to obtain a used block and other parts?
BMW has started more aggressively blocking euro parts, even for people with legally imported euro cars, i think january of '15. Some parts can still be obtained if you provide a current registration, proof of ownership etc.

If your cluster is in miles, have mph speedo, oil temp in F, you're cluster was probably replaced. Run a search for the 'cluster self test' and it will show you the vin that goes with the cluster. IF it matches your car's vin, you're good. I've not found anything that says you can reprogram a metric cluster to read km, so i'm doubtful it's OE to your car.

Funny how many low mile cars from Poland there are, that is the story that went with my sedan (a polish diplomat brought it into the US, the story goes). But thru all of my searching, there is nothing to suggest it was ever in Poland. BMW classic can get you info on the build data and the dealer that originally sold the car.
 

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These polish cars would of been German market cars new. The poles import alot of german cars when they get cheap enough

anyway we need pics!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi. Sorry for the delay. It took a while to get organized and get the car. I will be attaching some pictures a little later tonight.

@sugaki: Unfortunately, I have no service records of it prior to import. I wish that I had. If I had been smarter back in 2002, I would have definitely pushed harder to get that type of stuff.

@mottati: Thanks for all of that info. It is unfortunate to hear about the blocking of Euro parts. I'm curious what their reasoning is. Have people been getting Euro parts more cheaply than their US counterparts and just bypassing BMW NA? I do have valid title and registration, so I am at least covered as far as that goes. The car has no battery at the moment, so I am not sure what the cluster reads yet. Maybe you are right and its all in km. I'm interested to see, because I just cannot remember.


<!-- google_ad_section_start(weight=ignore) -->It's funny the sort of stories that we all got going along with this cars. I'd love to know what percentage are true. I can at least say this much: the man from whom I bought the car was, I am almost positive, a Pole, and someone, I am pretty sure it was he, brought the car here from Europe. It might be worth checking with BMW Classic on the matter.


Anyway, as far as the car goes, it could have been worse in my opinion, but it still needs quite a bit. As I said, pictures will be forthcoming. For those saying I can potentially find a block, how do I even begin looking and where? Thanks again to everyone for their interest and help!
 

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My experience of playing with clusters is that the VIN of the car comes on a coding chip that plugs into the back of it. So a car that has had the cluster changed might still show the right VIN if the plug was swapped over.

I think it's nice when the car shows the right VIN on the self test.

And you dont need a battery to check the units - I think the other poster just meant if the speedo is demoninated in miles.


BMW has started more aggressively blocking euro parts, even for people with legally imported euro cars, i think january of '15. Some parts can still be obtained if you provide a current registration, proof of ownership etc.

If your cluster is in miles, have mph speedo, oil temp in F, you're cluster was probably replaced. Run a search for the 'cluster self test' and it will show you the vin that goes with the cluster. IF it matches your car's vin, you're good. I've not found anything that says you can reprogram a metric cluster to read km, so i'm doubtful it's OE to your car.

Funny how many low mile cars from Poland there are, that is the story that went with my sedan (a polish diplomat brought it into the US, the story goes). But thru all of my searching, there is nothing to suggest it was ever in Poland. BMW classic can get you info on the build data and the dealer that originally sold the car.
 

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No i meant the odometer, as you say that is stored on the coding plug.

When these euro spec cars are brought into the US, they go thru a variety of modifications to be 'legal'. Depending on how familiar the shop is with the e34, they sometimes just put a US e34 m5 cluster in the car, sometimes they'll swap the car's original coding plug. IF the OE to the car coding plug is in, the US cluster will still read in KM, and the vin will match. If the ODO is in miles, they did not swap the coding plug and the vin will not match (and you really don't know how many miles/km are on the car).

My experience of playing with clusters is that the VIN of the car comes on a coding chip that plugs into the back of it. So a car that has had the cluster changed might still show the right VIN if the plug was swapped over.

I think it's nice when the car shows the right VIN on the self test.

And you dont need a battery to check the units - I think the other poster just meant if the speedo is demoninated in miles.
 

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Let me know what damage you find upon removing the engine .


I may have a block that you can have bored to take either a standard 94.55 mm piston or an oversize piston .


D
 

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No i meant the odometer, as you say that is stored on the coding plug.

When these euro spec cars are brought into the US, they go thru a variety of modifications to be 'legal'. Depending on how familiar the shop is with the e34, they sometimes just put a US e34 m5 cluster in the car, sometimes they'll swap the car's original coding plug. IF the OE to the car coding plug is in, the US cluster will still read in KM, and the vin will match. If the ODO is in miles, they did not swap the coding plug and the vin will not match (and you really don't know how many miles/km are on the car).
All coding plugs will not fit, it needs to be right shape. If it fits, it probably say CODE in cluster, so it will not work without coding. So much easier is swap cluster with code plug. I think us 3,6 code plug will not work/fit in 3,8 cluster without coding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here are some photos I took of it on the day of pickup. I've since given it a preliminary cleaning. The next set of pictures I post in a couple of days will be a little more detailed. Obviously, step #1 is the important stuff: new roundels and M badge haha. Those things seem to make the car look more weathered to me than anything else.

As you can see from the one photo, the speedo is in mph, so we know that was definitely changed. I'd be curious to see what the odometer says. One of these days I'll hook a battery up and take a look at it and some of the info stored in the cluster. I do remember this much, though: whenever the battery would be disconnected and reconnected, the menus would all revert to German. Not sure if that is a sign of a Euro cluster or not, but I figured it was worth mentioning.
@davidoli: Thanks, I definitely will do that. I never actually saw the engine, so I have my fingers crossed that it isn't as bad as maybe it could be. Just out of curiosity, which block is it that you have that you think would work?
 

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All coding plugs will not fit, it needs to be right shape. If it fits, it probably say CODE in cluster, so it will not work without coding. So much easier is swap cluster with code plug. I think us 3,6 code plug will not work/fit in 3,8 cluster without coding.
as long as the cluster has the same color back (blue in my case), the plugs will swap. a 3.6 code plug will work in a 3.8 cluster, and vice versa, as long as they are from the same generation cluster (white back, blue back etc). The milage (and vin) are stored on the coding plug.

My 93 euro sedan is a perfect example. When i searched it's vin on this form, one of its first US owners had a thread (about 10-12 years ago) about the obc data being inaccurate, the oil temp gauge not working correctly, and the Vin on his cluster being a vin for a US 530. He found a coding plug from a US m5, with similar milage, and put that in, which fixed the oil temp gauge, but not the obc. Some 10 years later, i bought the car, found a euro 3.8 coding plug with correct milage (in km of course, since it was from a euro car) and now everything works.

Every dealer source i've talked to says you can not re-code a used coding plug (changing km to miles for instance), but you can code a brand new one with a given car's data.

This is why if you need to be surethe cluster's vin matches the car, if you want to verify true milage / km. (even then it's not 100% certain)
 
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