Pick of the Day: 1991 BMW M5, the forgotten performance model

The E34 is the unheralded ‘middle child’ of the M group, but it has much to recommend it

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The E34 M5 is the final hand-built BMW M model

Something I’m always looking for are cars that are a bit “under the radar” and can still be bought for bargain prices. In the current market, such cars are getting more difficult to find, especially in German marques.

But the Pick of the Day, a 1991 BMW M5 4-door sedan, can be put in that category.  The E34 series M5 is often called the forgotten M5 as people tend to gravitate toward the earlier E28 or the later E39 versions, which command strong prices.

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Think of the E34 as the middle child of the BMW M car family. This is a strange situation as the E34 M5 is a special car in its own right, and arguably more significant than either the E28 or E39 models.

First, a little-known fact is that the E34 M5 was the last truly hand-built BMW M car; all of the E34 M5 cars were hand-assembled at BMW. None of the E39 cars were.

Second, the E34 M5 was the last BMW that used the automaker’s classic design language of round headlamps, a squared-off front end, and the classic BMW Teutonic interior design functionality.

Finally, this series of M5 is the last BMW M model to use a race-derived engine, and what an engine.  The 311-horsepower inline-6 makes the M5 capable of a 6.4-second 0-60 time, a sub-15-second quarter mile and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

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This 1991 M5 advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Austin, Texas, looks to be a very clean example finished in Alpine White paint with a black leather interior, The BMW has a little under 137,000 miles from new, according to the dealer.

The Carfax shows no accidents, although the hood and drivers side mirror have been repainted, the dealer says, likely due to stone chips on the hood and some tragic encounter involving the mirror. The original black leather shows wear but there are no tears visible in the photos with the ad.

One thing I noticed about this car is that it is running on incorrect-type BMW wheels, although the original factory alloys are still with the car, according to the ad. The sedan has a Pioneer audio unit installed but the original radio goes with the car, the dealer notes.  

The asking price for this serious future classic is a fair $19,995, which looks like something to buy now.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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