Owning A BMW Leads To Owning More BMWs
Owner: James Conlan
Year, Make, and Model: 1990 BMW E34 M5 and 1984 BMW E30 318i
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Photographer: Patrick Moran
I became interested in cars when I was a kid watching motor sports on TV. I used to watch a lot of Formula One, V8 Supercars, and BTCC. I actually liked touring cars more because they looked like cars people drove on the street (back in the ’90s) and the racing was so close and intense when compared with Formula One. I hadn’t appreciated classic cars until the last five years since I began scouring the classifieds for cars that I loved when I was younger.
This M5 came up for sale after I’d been searching for over three years. The photos were shot by a professional photographer (which looked great) so I took that as a very good sign of someone who invests money in his car. I flew down to Melbourne and spoke to the owner who had the full service history going back to 1990, with every receipt in a categorized folder. It was almost too good to be true. I put the deposit down then and there. The car came with 60,000 miles on the odometer. Since then, I’ve put 5,000 miles on it, but I don’t feel guilty at all.
The purchase was driven by my desire to experience a BMW M car. I was originally thinking of getting an E46 M3 but I felt that it was still in it’s depreciation cycle. I love the thought of buying a classic and having it retain its value or possibly go up while you’re still driving it. It’s the best of both worlds. I thought that the E34 had been under-appreciated for years and that if I got a perfect example and looked after it, I could enjoy that M power without too many financial hassles.
This particular E34 M5 is a series one with the 320 horsepower, s38 engine (3.6L). This was one of the earlier builds so it doesn’t have the M System “Throwing Star” wheels but the more stealthy “Turbines”. It’s almost stock and still retains the original radio. The only modification to the car has been the suspension which was replaced five years ago. It’s a very common upgrade for the E34 and is a must if you want the car to feel fresh 25 years on.
I love the M5 because it’s the ultimate sleeper car. I understand that people build and modify cars to look like sleepers but this was the first supercar with family car looks. It doesn’t get noticed by police and most people pay it little attention. It’s rare for someone to realize that it’s an M5 because the symbols are so discrete.
The choice to buy the 318i was based on the need to get a daily-driver that was reliable but also good looking. I refuse to believe that people need to sacrifice looks for reliability. For half the money of a modern family hatchback anyone could get a classic car that makes them happy every time they open the garage. Since this 318i had the looks and only 50,000 miles on the odometer, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t give me grief.
Putting the M5 in for a service actually led me to the 318i. The mechanic I found was a senior member of the BMW Club in Brisbane and chatting with him one day he mentioned that he had to get rid of one of his cars because he’d bought a new X5. I didn’t think much about it but when I decided to buy a daily-driver to commute to work, I called him, saw the car that weekend and bought it on site.
It’s a series one E30 with the M10 engine. It’s possibly one of the least desirable of the E30’s because of the lack of horsepower (103HP) and the fact that engine came from the 2002. However, the condition of the car is the best I’ve seen. With the exception of the IS wheels and lower springs, everything about the car is original and in working order. It genuinely feels like a new car.
This 318i is just a beautiful car. For me, the E30 is one of the most perfectly proportioned cars ever made. When I first saw it, I saw that automatic transmission, which I’m not a fan of, but it was such a good looking car that I had to buy it. I’ve actually had more people comment on the 318i than I have on the M5.
I tend to drive the M5 on either windy country roads or on long road trips to the beach. It’s not a car that likes traffic so I tend to stay away from congested areas. The best quality of the M5 is how it can be the perfect cruiser but also keep up with modern hot-hatches and performance cars on a mountain road. It has a really long wheel-base so if you ever get it out of shape in a corner, it’s very easy to correct. Like most performance cars, it doesn’t like to go slow, so when you get the engine past 5000 RPM, the whole car feels light and wants to dance.
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