Though I knew my newly acquired 1993 BMW E34 M5 had a strong service history, the car had incurred significant damage at the hands of thieves. Being left in the elements for an extended period of time did not help either. The question was how much damage was I facing?
I had the car towed to a unique and trusted mechanic. Not only does this shop have extensive experience with late model German autos–they restore late model domestic and foreign cars including paint. When the car arrived at their shop, I was going to find out how much work this car was facing.
The interior of the car was in better shape than the exterior but it still needed work. The good news was the carpet was in excellent shape. The bad news was that both front seats had cracking leather and the rear seats needed recoloring. In addition, the headliner needed to be replaced. To do this right, we were faced with pulling everything from the interior.
The exterior of this car was a bigger mess that I originally anticipated. I knew there was some water stains on the driver’s side of the car. My hope was that we could wet sand this back to life. What I failed to realize in its dirty state was the level of dings and hail marks the car had sustained over the years. Since the bumpers were already off (courtesy of the thieves) it made the most sense to take this opportunity completely refinish the exterior of the car with a show car finish.
The broken window, missing mirrors, bumpers, and wheels would all be supplied from my donor car or from my own personal stash of M5 goodies (namely a set of offset throwing stars I had acquired).
As I previously noted, this car had a great maintenance record. Still, the car’s idle was rougher than an S38 engine’s normal idle and it was burning rich. This meant one of two things: vacuum hoses and/or throttle body seals and gaskets. It proved to be the later.
The E34 M5’s engine is an inline six cylinder engine that features individual throttle bodies that are assembled into a single unit. Though beautiful, the unit is a composition of seals and it has 3 gaskets that sit between it and the engine’s intake valves. A simple smoke test showed that my S38’s throttle bodies had over 20 leaks. The bigger challenge was that a number of those seals and gaskets were NLA (no longer available). We were going to have to get creative if this car would ever see north of 300 horsepower again.
A quick inspection of the underneath side of the car confirmed that the car was due self leveling system accumulator replacements and some control arm bushing refreshes.
The damage assessment for my E34 M5 was complete. I was looking at minor seat repair, headliner repair, seat recoloring, a complete new paint job, suspension work, and rebuilding the throttle bodies. This was more than I expected but it was doable and still within budget.