Monday, November 23, 2015

DT's Take on BaT Auction: 1993 BMW M5 Touring

No, you don't need to adjust your PC, iMac, or mobile device. You're looking at a Bring a Trailer auction car on Daily Turismo. We like to think we don't compete with BaT - they are clearly in the business of making large sums of cash, and we are more about entertainment - so why not analyze one of their exclusive auctions? Not to mention, this one is the most interesting of their recent auctions to me personally, by far.  Find this 1993 BMW E34 M5 Touring for sale in Knoxville, TN with bidding near $30k and over 4 days to go on BringaTrailer.com.


The reason this interests me so much is of course because there's an E34 M5 sedan in my garage - the DTM5. The classic 3-box sedan shape will always be torsionally stiffer and quieter than a wagon, but there's no denying the added utility of the 2-box wagon form factor. Hipster cool points are subjective of course, but I will say that I've wished my black sedan had a rear hatch and D-pillars more than a few times.


DT has kept a close eye on the E34 M5 market over the past few years - these were somewhat forgotten; not quite old enough to be classic but not new or powerful enough to be desirable by the daily driving masses, especially when compared to the 400hp V8 powered E39 M5. That seems to be changing, with values steadily on the rise for the past 2 years, and this Avus Blue wagon should give a good indicator of the top of the market. It's a rare variant not sold here, plus it's got the larger ultimate 3.8L version of the S38 engine and the 6-speed manual vs. the lowly Getrag 280 5-speed our Nordamerika-spec cars are saddled with.


As if the body and drivetrain configurations weren't enough, this car also has the sportier Nürburgring package suspension (although my '93 has the ZF Servotronic speed sensitive steering too), and the swanky buffalo leather interior. Hey - there's a taller center console mounted armrest in this car - I want one of those! Curiously, it lacks the wood trim found on every other E34 I've seen. Condition of course plays a big part in the strong bidding on this particular car; but yes, if it was a spanked fixer-upper, it would still command a premium over an equivalent condition 3.6L sedan. However, it makes more sense to import a really nice example if you're going to go to all the trouble. We don't see many scruffy E34 M5 wagons on this side of the pond for that reason. The last one we featured looked just as nice, and was going for $22.5k asking.


Thar she blows - the raison d'être for this car, in my humble opinion - the glorious S38 inline six. A half dozen individual throttle bodies are fed by the variable-geometry plenum and allow the 4-valve combustion chambers to aspirate freely. Sadly the bundle-of-snakes stainless 6-3-1 headers are hidden under heat shielding, but the whole shebang sings like a giant pissed-off hornet from 4000 rpm all the way up to 7000. 340 European hp at the flywheel is the result of the displacement bump over our 3.6, but I happen to know that higher compression pistons and tuning can bump that up about 10% over stock, if the DTM5's rebuilt engine is any indication. These cars are fast for what they are, if not quite insane by today's standards.


The "throwing star" covers on the M-System II 17" wheels are original to these later E34 M5s, and really compliment the clean lines of the executive express. I'm partial to these stockers but I happen to know that these cars look great when lowered over ACSchnitzer Type II 3-piece wheels as well. In any case, I'm predicting a sale price near $35k for this unicorn, which can only mean rising tides for the sedans - bad for anyone looking to buy one - but good for those of us who hoarded a few years ago. 

What's your take on this E34 M5T and BaT's auction format in general?

See a better wagon - I highly doubt such a thing exists - but if so, email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

26 comments:

  1. I think you know my "take" on BaT's auctions already.....they're sold out and stopped dancing with the ones that brung em', and have moved over to catering to the pinky-out Pebble Beach-on-the-half-shell fart sniffers.

    With that said, I've kept up with this TN car for a long time, ever since I missed out on it a few years ago at $22k. Going off memory (and there's a reference to this in the BaT auction), EAG beat me to it (rat bastids) and flipped it to the current seller for a price in the upper 30's. Given what he claims to have put into it, I would be amazed if he let it go for $35, unless he really needed the cash. Not that one should ever expect to make a quick flip for profit when you pay EAG's prices, but that's still a silly loss in a rising market.

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    1. Oops, I was wrong, looks like they listed it ambitiously in the upper 30's and gradually reduced it to the upper 20's. Given that, I'm thinking you might be close to the money at mid-30's, CFlo---he's still losing money at that price thought it would seem.

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  2. I underestimates the value of M cars in the past. I actually sold a 17,000 mile M6 on BaT a few years ago for probably half of what is worth now. Also sold my e30 M3 for practically nothing compared to what they are going for today. I guess I am a terrible speculator.
    This wagon is a great collector piece for someone. The new owner will be a very lucky person.

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    1. I hear you Sean.

      Sold a 73k mile e30 M3 beauty for $12.5 in the late aughts, and was damned happy to get it. Sigh.

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    2. Sean, was this yours? If so I recall it from when you listed it there. Man, you're right....EAG would have that listed for close to 6 figures today. In fairness though, I'm still convinced that it isn't the true car enthusiasts driving these prices up, but rather the speculators. As enthusiasts who look at the car's true intrinsic value, rather than potential car market volatility, I'm not sure any of "us" really saw this coming.

      http://bringatrailer.com/2011/02/02/bat-exclusive-18k-mile-1987-bmw-m6/

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    3. Yup, that was mine.
      I feel "outed" by the car market sometimes. The cars I really love I can not afford anymore (911, Alfa GTV, M cars, ect)
      I am always thinking of a new direction to go in. One of the reasons why I like this site. Interesting and fun cars that don't have to cost a fortune.

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  3. You and me both. The good news is I am convinced "this too shall pass". There will be a new, shiny speculative bauble (art, beachfront condos, you name it) for the investment crowd, and in the next few years there will be a lot of people taking $10-20k baths on that 911 SC that they paid wayyyy too much for. That's when we swoop in.

    That's what helps me sleep at night anyway.

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  4. Please bring those non Fortune car's now......as i am just a poor man...Ford Gt last gen 100+k now in the 400+k amazing......

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  5. BaT cross pollination with DT is OK with me. Although I enjoy the DT spin. BaT is bland like reading your owners manual while waiting for the wife inside a craft store. But the "cars are the stars" as the would say at the Detroit International Auto Show.

    The BaT auction platform seems to working out well for them since they dropped the original fixed price concept.
    Commenters point out flaws and sellers respond. This does seem to help protect the buyer a bit while at the same time the volley of comments can be interesting.
    BaT has been adding more lower end cars into their auctions. I am seeing more Miatas, Boxsters, etc. Perhaps that is because less high end vehicles are being offered to BaT or they are trying to keep their base. If they lose their commenting base the whole thing would fade away into just another Hemmings, Auto Trader, Craig's list, etc.

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    1. If the time comes when I decide to sell my MB 190E 2.3-16, I will probably try selling it through a BaT auction. Not sure what their cut is, but it seems like a pretty hassle free process. Might not set any price records, but it will most likely end up with another enthusiast.

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    2. $250 for the seller to list, 5% fee for the winning buyer. Seems like the commenters have gotten really negative on the auctions lately, looking for any little thing to knock. I go to the site and scroll thru the pictures every so often, but stay away from the comments (except for the car Doug DeMuro is currently selling).

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    3. They take a maximum of $5000 fee no matter how high the bidding goes. Which is a nice cap on high end cars that go for multiple hundreds of thousands (like the 300SL they sold).

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    4. You guys are right about the comments on the BaT auctions--they are brutal sometimes. I'll make sure to reinstall the factory Becker radio, otherwise some of their trolls will have a conniption. In 2009, the Volvo 1800S I was selling was picked up by BaT and half the comments were people who didn't like the wheels I had on it (which were actually installed by the PO). Wouldn't those take about 20 minutes to change if you bought the car and didn't like them??? It's like not buying a house because the owner planted petunias out front and you like daisies.

      http://bringatrailer.com/2009/09/27/upgraded-black-plate-1967-volvo-1800s/

      I appreciate the desire for an "honest" car and seller as much as anyone, but it gets annoying when non-bidders are just flaunting their ability to expose weakness of particular models based on third-hand information they picked up from FerrariChat or Rennlist.

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  6. Almost perfect. If it had a sunroof and 6 speed (it is indeed saddled with the lowly 5 speed) it would be there. But its paint color/interior combo and originality almost compensate for those absences.

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    1. @markiteight----agree on the 6 speed, but you're one of the few I've heard who were fans of the giant e34 touring sunroof(s). It wasn't a matter of if they broke, but when---in my experience they were one of those designs where the Germans ambition outpaced their engineering, and on top of that they were pretty darn heavy assemblies..

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    2. Whoops - not sure how I missed the absence of the 6-speed on this one. Too many beverages to get the creative juices flowing yesterday, I suppose.

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    3. Also I must say that I really despise the Getrag 280 in my M5. It's the only thing letting the car down. Shift it slowly while putzing around and it's OK, but any quicker shift during lively full-throttle driving and it grinds like a box of rocks.

      I'm working on a conversion to a Getrag 265, since 280 rebuild parts are NLA. Look for an upcoming DTM5 project car how-to article detailing the process.

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    4. The sunroofs are great when they work.

      I wonder if parts prices on those are headed where they are on E39s?

      One of our E39s needed some sunroof work, and the plastic drip tray/track guide that used to be $70 new is now close to $200, and the inside fabric-covered sliding shade that used to be $170 (should one want to buy a new one) is now $500(!)

      The only good news is that there's now a gaggle of E39s in the local pick-n-pull, so a lot of this stuff is available cheap.

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    5. @FTB: Your are probably right that I'm in the minority with the sunroof, but I feel that the disadvantages of its absence outweigh the disadvantages of its presence. Yeah it's heavy. But so's the car, and it's a longroof to boot. Unless your driving skills are beyond those of mere mortals and you side-to-side compare a car with to one without a sunroof in a controlled environment I highly doubt the few extra pounds up top will be noticed. As for the reliability, I was a VW/Audi/Porsche mechanic for almost 15 years so I'm quite familiar with overambitious German engineering. In fact it was German ambition what got me out of the gig in the first place!

      @CFlo: Have you ever driven an Audi quattro with an 016 gearbox? There's a reason us Audi fools were jumping for joy when they finally ditched ZF in favor of a Getrag box for the V8 S4s. I'm not familiar with the differences between the BMW and Audi Getrags, but even the 280 has to be better than an 016.

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    6. Paf! Pardon my French, but I've driven both 280s and 016s and neither holds a candle to the Taurus SHO's MTX-IV transaxle when it comes to high-RPM reluctance.

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  7. http://newyork.craigslist.org/brx/cto/5316419332.html

    V10 E39 wagon

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    1. Not a V10, the E39 M5 S62 5-liter V8.

      There've been a couple conversions like that. Lotta work involved. But yes, sweet.

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  8. The BaT auction for this E34 M5 Touring ended today, and for posterity I'm copying the sale price here:

    $56,000.

    An insane amount of money at first blush, but the wagon is a real unicorn especially in this condition. With the 5% buyer's fee, the highest bidder will be shelling out $58,800 plus whatever taxes and registration fees in their place of residence.

    I have to say I understand this car going for this type of money much more than a low-mile E30 M3, which is a silly toy in comparison :-D

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