My friend Martin, a German market analyst, who loves these cars, confirmed that it's an honest enough price. 'Early E34 low-mileage M5s are very hard to find these days,' he said. 'And some enthusiasts are now paying well above book values to secure good, original examples.' This really got me thinking, especially as it doesn't seem that long ago that the PH Classifieds were littered with enthusiast-owned examples from as little as £3,000. These days, it would seem, are now long gone - and that this brilliant car became rare quite quickly, and it's on the upward curve in terms of market value. Time to catch it while you can?
Owning an old M5 does take financial commitment, there's no two ways about it. But here's the thing - if you buy wisely, choose an enthusiast-owned car that's been well-maintained, and stick a little in your war chest on a regular basis for when things go wrong, there's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy the best saloon money could buy 20 years ago. Servicing and general running is expensive, there's no getting away from this, but treat your M5 like a weekend cherished car, and not as your daily commuter (who would these days?) and that's much less of an issue. The starting point now seems to be about £5,000 these days, with the best dealer cars topping out at £15,000 - and the really leggy, grotty, and abused ones now seem to have met their maker.
this £4,495 example at a dealer. If you look beyond the 187,000 miles showing and replacement engine it had a while back, it does all look present and correct, and has documented history to back-up its long life. This lovely Nurburgring edition is probably a safer bet though, fully documented at £14,995. With 119,000 miles, there might be some room for negotiation, especially in view of the LE with similar mileage that 4Star Classics is touting for £12,495.
All E34 M5s are fabulous, possessing one of the finest six-cylinder engines ever made and typically impressive dynamics. The engine is the M5's crowning glory, without a doubt - it pulls cleanly and hard, and loves to be driven hard, although - subjectively, I prefer the sound of the earlier car, and its lack of driver aids. All look properly understated - even today, an E34 M5 is a car that aficionados will nod knowingly at when they spot one.
But don't let that scare you. Like all E34s, the M5 is a car that's solid and beautifully engineered, and if all the big bits have been maintained, it promises to look after those who buy one to use sparingly. It's a car that'll just throw up the odd - and often costly - niggle now and then, and will demand you feed it the best fuel, and service it luxuriously, using the best materials. But the first time you get it on a long straight, and hold the throttle, you'll find it's all been worth it. All of a sudden, that 17,500 euro M5 is starting to look very tempting indeed.