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Basic information about my car:
1995 BMW 525i (E34)
Reasons why I bought this car(purpose)
“Banyak Makan Wang”, “Banyak Masuk Workshop” … these perhaps are the usual notions that one would come across at the mention of the name BMW in Malaysia. Is one still able to have an enjoyable ownership experience with a BMW, let alone a classic one? Well, I think it is absolutely possible. This is my experience which was 26 years (and counting) in the making and it all started on a quiet night on MEX highway. I was driving back home from work in my Volvo V40 T4. The V40, while not the fastest car amongst its peers, definitely packed a decent punch from its turbocharged 4-cylinder power plant. As I glanced through my rear-view mirror, I saw a pair of dim yellow headlights creeping up.
As the road ahead was clear, I stepped on the accelerator. Even as I continued to pull forward, I couldn’t pull away completely and this continued for the next couple of minutes until I switched lanes at the toll booth. As the car passed next to me, I recognized it to be a BMW E34 525i. I was amused. “How did such an old car manage to keep up?” I wondered as I drove away.
A week had passed and this car kept popping up in my mind. Admittedly, I had never paid much attention to the E34 and later on found that this was generally the case for the E34 as it was mostly overshadowed by its predecessor, the brilliant E39.
When the time came to move on from the V40 after 3.5 years of ownership, I toyed with the idea of getting an E34. I spent the next couple of weeks researching the internet about everything I could find about the E34. Naturally, I got further invested in the looks of the E34; the classic long hood, the regal stance and unmistakeable circular headlights combined with wide kidney grilles made for one of the most iconic looks ever created by BMW.
Clause Luthe’s design still remains as innovative and sleek in 2021 as it was in 1995.
Car selection process
● I had a budget of: RM 10,000
● Models that I have considered include: The 520i variant of the same model
Reasons why I chose this car
12 months into the search for my dream E34, I had still not found the right one. The journey so far had brought me to different parts of Malaysia, crossed paths with fellow enthusiasts and thought me how to quickly spot the red flags in potential units. All of which I was thankful for but at the same time was pushing me to close to admitting defeat in my quest.
Unfortunately, it was also around the same time the pandemic struck and my plans had to be put on hold due to the Movement Control Order. Fast forward about 2 months later, I came across a post of a E34 525i on sale on Facebook. This one seemed a little unique as it was unmolested, still sported the original rims and clean paintwork. Almost felt too good to be through but curiosity got the better of me and I contacted the seller. During our initial discussions, I found out that the car only had one previous owner.
It didn’t take much convincing thereafter for me to set up a viewing and a test drive. During the viewing, I had discovered this car had the original velour interior seats, uncracked dashboard, original roofline trim, aged but not damaged leather bits and functioning electronics. Besides some minor fixes, it was in pristine condition. It even had the original documentation and first aid kit! I had placed my deposit on that day itself and it took me a further week to get the keys.
● My average fuel consumption is 9-12km/l.
I’ve not look back since in my journey with the Smooth Operator from Munich. The silky smooth inline-6 has clocked close to 550k kms but still has enough grunt to give the driver a taste of the 189 (maybe much less) brake horsepower. In 15 months of ownership, I’ve replaced the tyres, done a full fluid flush, serviced the air-conditioning and given the car a new coat of paint.
Nothing out of the ordinary by any means in terms of repairs as the car has been in great shape and trouble free. We took it for a convoy drive up North last year and I regularly drive it on a weekly basis for the grocery run or just for an Italian drive around the neighbourhood. I look forward to every drive, long or short as the visceral experience is extremely rewarding. Actually, all this typing has me missing the car. Time to go for a drive now. Cue Deep Purple’s Highway Star.
Pros and Cons
Pros of my car
- The GM sourced 4-speed box still shifts with no drama ensuring no fuss to the occupants.
- The hydraulicly powered steering provides ample feedback to the driver enabling a sense to positioning of the front wheels at all time.
- The weight balance is still impressive and continues to blow my mind on how the engineers achieved all of this through a largely mechanical set up.
- Rear Visibility is not great as it has a 30 year old design.
- The same can be said for the side view mirror. Car design has improved so much in the last couple of decades.
- Another drawback of the old design is the lack of modern features such as cup holders, dimming rear view mirrors and brighter headlights.
Total Score: 5
Quality & Features: 3
Ride comfort: 5
Fuel Economy: 4
Price & cost: 5
This car has turned out to be everything I had imagined it to be. Fast, stable with a sense of regalness to it. The engine starts up strongly every time giving the driver a sense of satisfaction. Even on enthusiastic drives, the car is capable of being sporty yet restrained. It is truly a marvel of modern engineering with very little electronic interference and remains true to the long gone BMW " The Ultimate Driving Machine" tagline.
During the viewing, I had discovered this car had the original velour interior seats, uncracked dashboard, original roofline trim, aged but not damaged leather bits and functioning electronics. Besides some minor fixes, it was in pristine condition. It even had the original documentation and first aid kit! We took it for a convoy drive up North last year and I regularly drive it on a weekly basis for the grocery run or just for an Italian drive around the neighbourhood. I look forward to every drive, long or short as the visceral experience is extremely rewarding.
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