BMW E34 – The Complete Story

James Taylor
The BMW E34 5 Series is considered one of the most impressive car designs to come out of the 1980s. With some 180 photographs, this complete guide to this iconic vehicle. The BMW E34 5 Series became the benchmark executive saloon during its eight-year production life, and today enthusiasts still look back on it as one of the high points of the BMW story.
The E34 range made its debut in 1988, and built on BMW’s growing success in the medium-sized saloon class. From the start, its makers aimed to seize leadership of the market sector from their arch-rivals at Mercedes-Benz, and to that end they developed a sleek, sporty shape and made the car available with a range of 6-cylinder engines. These included highly regarded diesel types, and later there would be an entry-level 4-cylinder as well. BMW kept the E34 range fresh to the very end, through three major eras of production. The first lasted until 1990, and established the range firmly. The second period, from 1990 to 1992, brought ‘Touring’ (estate) models, 4-wheel-drive variants and advanced new 4-valve engines. Between 1992 and 1996, the third phase brought annual updates, including VANOS variable valve timing and new V8 engines for the top-of-the-range models. In the BMW tradition, these cars combined strong performance with excellent handling, and these qualities were exploited to the hilt by the M5 variants produced by the legendary M Division. Aftermarket tuning specialists made their own contributions, too, adding to the aura of glamour around the E34 range. There were lesser-known elements of the story, too, when BMW used the E34 range for some fascinating experiments with hybrid power systems, a convertible, and a dual-fuel system.
BMW E34 – The Complete Story by James Taylor

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About the author

James Taylor has been writing professionally about cars since the late 1970s, and his interests embrace a wide range of older cars of all makes and nationalities, as well as classic buses, lorries and military vehicles. He counts the BMW E34 range among his favourites of the 1980s and 1990s, and remembers the excitement that they created when they were new as well as the concern that they aroused within rival car manufacturers who realised how hard they would have to work to keep up. James has written well over 150 books, and among them have been several definitive one-make or one-model titles, including a large number for Crowood. He has written for enthusiast magazines in several countries, has translated books from foreign languages, and is also an expert coach in effective writing, working in both the public and private sectors. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and the younger two of his four children, and makes sure that he always has something interesting in the garage as well.

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