Despite their advantages, wagons are often ignored in the US—even the high-performance variants. As a result, for every Cadillac CTS-V wagon, there are several models from overseas that never made it here. For example, the Audi RS2 Avant, the precursor to the modern US-available RS6 Avant. And then there was the BMW E34 M5 Touring.
The E34 M5 Touring was the first M wagon and the last hand-built BMW M5
To be clear, BMW has sold wagons in the US before, based on both the 3 Series and the 5 Series. And for the 5 Series, that started with the third-gen model, the E34, Automobile reports. But we never got the ultimate E34 wagon: the E34 M5 Touring.
The first E34 M5 Touring examples have a 3.6-liter inline-six engine with a five-speed manual, Automobile reports. That engine is a modified version of the E28’s engine, which originated in the M1 supercar. So, in a way, the E34 M5 is one of the last M cars that can “truly lay claim to a motorsports heritage,” Jalopnik reports. And it’s the last M5 with a straight-six engine.
But for the 1992 model year, BMW introduced a 3.8-liter inline-six engine in the E34 M5 sedan and wagon. So, instead of 310 hp, the cars made 335 hp, Automobile reports. And in 1995, swapped the five-speed for a six-speed manual, Hagerty reports.
As a result, the last E34 M5 Touring models can go 0-60 mph in under six seconds, The Drive reports. And while electronically-limited to 155 mph, delimited examples can hit close to 200 mph, Road & Track reports.
Plus, even as a wagon, the E34 M5 Touring could out-speed the contemporary US-market M5 sedan.
The E34 M5 Touring is faster than the US-market BMW E34 M5 and can still carve corners
BMW made the E34 M5 Touring from 1991 until 1995 when the third-gen 5 Series left production. However, not only did US buyers not get the wagon, we only got the second-gen M5 from 1991 until 1993. And to add insult to injury, our E34 M5 only offered the 3.6-liter engine and five-speed manual. This is likely why MotorTrend recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds in one.
So, in a straight line, the later E34 M5 Touring models can out-pace the US-market sedans. And they can likely keep up in the corners, too.
Like the sedans, the wagons have upgraded suspension, thicker anti-roll bars, and larger brakes. And it has M System alloy wheels that have functional ‘turbofan’ elements to blow cooling air over said brakes, Hagerty reports. The E34 M5 Touring also comes with a limited-slip differential, and in another M5 first, electronic adaptive suspension, Gear Patrol reports.
However, the BMW E34 M5 Touring was also a luxury car, even more so than the earlier E28. To some, that makes it less desirable than the earlier E28, BMW Blog reports. But it’s also arguably better built, and it has more modern touches.
In addition to the practicality of a wagon, you get leather upholstery, headlight washers, heated power-adjustable seats, and a sunroof, Bring a Trailer reports. The Elekta models added on roof rails, a different steering wheel, and upgraded leather and wood interior trim, The Drive reports. In essence, it’s a luxury wagon that has the speed and handling of “’a proper sports car,’” CCFS reports.
The wagon is extremely rare and therefore more valuable
The BMW E34 M5 Touring’s desirability isn’t just due to its practicality and speed, though. Similar to another high-performance wagon, the Volvo V60 Polestar, it’s supercar-level rare.
BMW only made 891 road-going examples, 209 of which have the 3.8-liter engine and six-speed manual. And of those 209, only 20 are Elekta models, R&T reports. However, the German automaker did keep one for itself as a test mule for the McLaren F1’s V12, Autoblog reports.
As a result, while E34 M5s are fairly affordable overall, the Touring models are noticeably less so. On Bring a Trailer, the average E34 sedan hovers in the $20,000-$40,000 range; the wagons, though, are closer to $50,000-$60,000. And the Elekta models, as well as rare color combinations, can often go for double that.
Luckily, because the entire production run is over 25 years old, they are legal to import. And as of this writing, there is a 1992 example listed on BaT at $18,000.
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