As the pool of clean, unmodified BMW M cars continues to dwindle, it becomes harder and harder to justify fettling with older M3s and M5s. Even if the modifications would result in a better-driving car, the need for preservation exerts some serious pressure. If you’re willing to look past the lack of an “M” badge on the rear decklid, Bring a Trailer’s 1995 BMW E34 540i might just be the perfect four-door Q-ship.
Sure, it’s not as collectible as a real-deal M5, but this tastefully modified 540i would probably put a few car lengths on the M5 when the light turns green. In place of the M5’s high-strung 3.6-liter inline-six, the 540i came with a great honkin’ 4.0-liter V-8.
In factory fresh tune, 282 hp and 295 lb-ft was on tap—not bad, considering this was only down 29 hp on the M5, and packed an additional 29 lb-ft of torque. No power-sapping torque converters here—this is one of just 1,524 E34 540i’s equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.
To help keep the 4.0-liter in tip-top fighting condition, the seller augmented it with a new intake, high-flow catalytic converters, and mufflers. A Mark D’Sylva 91 octane ECU chip boosts power, torque, and raises the redline.
Despite 173,000 miles on the odometer, the engine is as healthy as ever, thanks to a regimen of preventative maintenance. The car wears a PCV oil separator, fresh fuel injectors, updated timing chain tensioner, spark plugs, new thermostat, A/C compressor, power steering hoses, and a clean valve cover gasket.
You’ll dust the M5 in the canyons too, with BOGE shocks, Vogtland springs, updated slotted rotors, and EBC pads. At all four corners, BMW Style 66 wheels fill out the arches. Power is routed through a 3.15 ratio rear differential updated from the factory gearset.
Inside, it’s charmingly demure. Contrasting the Arctic Gray Metallic paint on the exterior, the Light Silver Gray leather was “professionally conditioned” while with the current owner. A more aggressive flat-bottomed steering wheel and ZHP shift knob round-out the cabin.
Head over to Bring a Trailer to bid on this excellent 1995 BMW 540i sleeper before it’s snapped up.