At ECS, we prefer to relate stories to our readers that are unique and exclusive to us. Whether that is our own words about an individual’s car or products we have developed, these articles are uniquely ECS Tuning. However, as a BMW enthusiast and fan of the elusive barn find, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to weigh in my thoughts about a recent story that has blown up around the BMW and online car community as a whole. You have probably already seen the original articles unless you live under a rock at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I am, of course, talking about the recent barn find in Bulgaria where eleven BMW E34 5-Series cars were discovered that have never seen road time or an official registration. I would like to maintain the theme of exclusivity to ECS here, so I thought instead of rehashing the same ol’ story everyone else has already covered, I would take this chance to explore the find a bit more creatively. If I were to somehow get my hands on one of these gems, what would I do with the car myself and how would I modify it?
Here is the video from its original host, if you haven’t yet seen it:
The E34, for those who don’t already know, was the third generation 5-series produced by BMW from 1987 until 1996. It received the usual breakdown of models ranging from the most basic 518i all the way to the M5, which had one of the best BMW straight six engines ever. Fight me, it did, you can’t change my mind. The E34 was available in both manual and automatic for all of its engine variations and also sold as a sedan or a touring (wagon for you philistines.)
In Bulgaria last week, a lucky fellow uncovered ten of these luxury sedans and one touring model in a barn. Apparently, according to early speculative reports, the cars were originally purchased for a rental company but never used. While they won’t be legally able to receive registration in Bulgaria due to the lack of original registration, they could be registered in Germany or potentially exported to the US and listed as classics.
So, in the magical world of fantasy, I’d like to imagine myself importing one of these beauties (the touring, duh) and making it the quirkiest car in the ECS Tuning parking lot. But what would that unhinged dream look like?
First and foremost, we’d need to address the maintenance concerns associated with a car that has been stored in a barn for twenty years. Fresh LIQUI MOLY oil, Ceratec, a new MANN filter would be excellent places to start. Realistically, along with the basic oil service, I would most likely tear the majority of the drivetrain down and check the bushings, hoses, vacuum lines, brake lines, and check for leaks from the rear main, pan gasket, valve cover gaskets, and check the air filter. Depending on what needs to be replaced, I would address those concerns as I found them.
After the car is mechanically brought back up to snuff, I would certainly pursue extensive modification. Purists, you may want to stop reading here.
Ideally, my E34 of choice would be a 525i Touring with the OBD1 M50B25. This engine provides endless entertainment, as it is an iron block, aluminum head, 24v DOHC platform. S52 camshafts from Schrick, a KAMotors carbon fiber intake, and Turner Motorsport Power Pulleys, would all make sure the naturally aspirated M50 received a hearty boost in power. Personally, I prefer naturally aspirated engines to forced induction ones so there would be little likelihood I would choose to find a turbo manifold and convert the M50 as many have done in their own BMWs. I would, however, top off the engine modification with a Supersprint exhaust for the best sounding NA M50 possible.
Moving underneath the car, a SACHS performance clutch kit and lightweight flywheel should replace the factory equipment, as well as the Turner Motorsport BMW shift carrier bushing that provides a stiffer mount for the shift assembly. These upgrades will let the BMW to put all its power to the ground, offer faster revs, and give me a more engaged driving experience with a tighter shift feel.
For suspension, an Air Lift Performance custom set of air ride and management would bring the car down to a proper show stance, sit it perfectly for a day of fun at the track, and allow it to be comfortably daily driven all with the touch of a button. I know, bags are controversial. In the case of my hypothetical wagon, they provide the ideal scenario for daily driving, spirited driving, and complete
Lastly, M Parallel wheels in the rare 19” low offset variation would sit atop upgraded rotors and pads on each hub, which rounds off the stance of this theoretical E34. Combined with the fairly exhaustive modification list under the hood and body of the car, the BMW OEM wheels and otherwise unmodified body will retain the classic look and feel of an unaltered E34 while also accentuating its lowered stance to give the car an OEM+ appearance.
With this modification list, I am fairly confident I wouldn’t change much about the car for at least a year before my wallet starts burning a hole through my back pocket, just begging for a set of three-piece vintage Zender wheels or BBS RS02s and Turbofans….
Hopefully, the new owners of each E34 found in that Bulgarian barn share my sentimentality and we will see similarly modified, low-mileage never used E34s on the market. Keep your eyes on Bring A Trailer and your wallets ready if you want to be one of those lucky owners because, I assure you, these cars will sell and some will most likely end up here in the United States. Maybe I will get to live out my E34 build fantasy on a once in a lifetime ‘new old stock’ BMW.