Thread: Wary noob
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:17 AM
mda185 mda185 is offline
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Location: NJ
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 593
Mein Auto: 95 525iT w/S52, 03 530i
Originally Posted by Edgy36-39 View Post
Wow! Definitely do a thorough thread on that when complete. Seems like it would be a great engine in a wagon, lots of torque down low.
That is my expectation. I also like the fact that the S52 is the older design I6 with a simple crankcase ventilation scheme and fewer critical maintenance issues. It is essentially a stroked M50 with hotter cams. In addition, converting S52 to OBD I intake manifold and ECU should free up another 20-30 HP on the top end. If the E34 offered an interior and quiet highway cruise like the E39 does, I would not even own my 530i. The 530i is for times when we are going out with another couple or driving long distance with both kids. The E34 does not have enough rear leg room now that my oldest daughter is 14 going on 25.

I would convert an E39 touring but it is much more difficult to swap drivetrains into post 1998 E39 bodies in my state. I don't know how I would get such a hybrid through inspection. With OBD I E34, all I have to do is pass tailpipe emissions. FWIW, an early E39 528i sedan could be modified with an S52 swap. The M52 and S52 engines and wiring harnesses are very similar. Pity they did not make the 528i touring model in 1996-7 or that is what I would have purchased.

Don't want to thread jack any further. To the OP, Dave, try to find a well maintained touring from an owner that kept receipts and shows evidence that he or she liked the car a lot. The few with manual transmission probably will fall into that category more often than not. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you could buy a really cheap one and expect to spend a lot of time bringing it back to good condition. I see used up tourings in NY/NJ all time for <$3.5K. I would expect to be able to bargain the price down significantly on a high mileage model with no maintenance history. In your state, you should be able to find ones with high mileage and good paint. I would not recommend spending $8-10K at a dealership for a stick shift 528i or 525i touring model because that car will not have maintenance records to prove the previous owner(s) took care of it properly. That will increase risk to you and could end up costing far more than it is worth to put in proper running condition. If a private seller with documentation to prove maintenance was selling an E39 manual touring model, I would seriously consider buying it in that same price range.

If you are still looking for a 540i touring, be very afraid of any with over 70K miles that do not have proof of transmission fluid changes every 50K miles, ask if timing chain guides have been replaced on really high mileage engines, ask if valley pan leaks have been addressed, ask if rear diff fluid has been changed, ask if 02 sensors have been replaced and when, ask about rear subframe bushings, etc. If you are considering the V8 touring without a well documented maintenance history, you are in for even more trouble than the I6 versions. The auto tranny in particular is prone to failure at high mileage if fluid is never changed and very expensive to replace or rebuild. A 540i touring in good, well maintained condition is a lot of fun. The guy I bought my E34 touring from replaced it with a 2001 540i touring. He found one with only 50K miles so he could start a good maintenance plan early enough in the car's life to make a difference. It will get really poor gas mileage so be prepared for that. Owners that I know and trust tell me they average 12-16 mpg in all around driving. Higher mpg is possible on pure highway runs but that is not how most folks use their cars if they are honest.

Last edited by mda185; 01-29-2013 at 12:35 PM.
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