Frequently Asked Questions

Technical Data


Service History

Carfax Report



You have questions. I have answers.

1. How much is the car?

2. Where is the car located?

3. What does the "M" mean in the term "535iM?"

4. Is the car in good, fair, or poor condition?

5. How has the 3.64 rear-end affected fuel economy and cruising RPM?

6. How has the Turner Motorsports (Jim Conforti) chip affected fuel economy and performance?

7. How does the upgraded suspension handle? Is the ride rough or harsh?

8. Are these the authentic M5 "Throwing Star" wheels or replicas?

9. Who performs the maintenance on the car?

10. How many more miles do you expect out of the engine before a major rebuild or overhaul?

11. Has the car ever been in an accident?

12. What parts have been replaced recently?

13. Why are you selling the car?

14. Is there anything wrong with car?

15. Why should I buy a 535i instead of a newer 540i or another 5-series model?

16. Why should I pay more to buy your car when I can find other E34 5-series cars for less?

17. Why have you built such a big site to sell your car? Are you a dealer?

18. Who do I contact for more information about the car?

1. How much is the car?
Note: This car has been sold. Thank you for your interest!
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2. Where is the car located?
The car is in Reston, Virginia (outside Washington D.C.). Buyer assumes all responsibility for pick-up or shipping, although I may be willing to deliver the car to buyers within a reasonable distance.
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3. What does the "M" mean in the term "535iM?"
The "M" in "535iM" simply stands for "manual transmission." The alternative is "535iA," which obviously means a 535i equipped with an automatic transmission. The manual transmission is an extremely rare and desirable feature on a 535i, since less than 10% of all 535i's were built with standard transmissions. The "M" does not imply that the car has any "BMW Motorsport" parts from the M5 (but plenty of aftermarket performance goodies have been installed on this car).

Is the car in good, fair, or poor condition?
gallery images and service history should speak for themselves. This car is in excellent mechanical and cosmetic condition. The interior has worn well over the years - no gashes or tears in the leather (no pets and no smoking either). The $4,000 paint job is only 3 years old, so there are minimal rock chips or scratches. I have always hand-washed and hand-waxed the car, with a few occasional trips to the brushless automatic car wash for quick touch-ups. The body is practically perfect - no dents except one tiny ding on the passenger-side door. The engine compartment is fair and the undercarriage is in good condition. Not a hint of rust anywhere (not surprising since this is actually a Texas car that has seen 2 mild Virginia winters in its life). The car has been covered or garaged for most of its life (including during the daytime at work), and looks as good as the pictures indicate. Back to top

5. How has the 3.64 rear-end affected fuel economy and cruising RPM?
I have observed a slight loss of fuel economy on the highway (less than 1 MPG) but around-town mileage has not suffered noticeably. With the stock 3.46 rear-end, the engine was turning at 2800 RPM at 75 MPH in 5th gear. The new differential raises that figure to 2900 RPM at 75 MPH. However, these sacrifices are easily eclipsed by the seat-of-the-pants difference in performance.
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6. How has the Turner Motorsports (Jim Conforti) chip affected fuel economy and performance?
I have not seen any improvement or decrease in fuel mileage, but the engine chip has made a world of difference in acceleration and around-town drivability. The idle is smoother and the there is more power available throughout the rev range, especially at partial throttle. Redline is raised to 6800 RPM, and there is no top speed limiter. The only real compromise as far as fuel economy is the requirement for premium fuel.
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7. How does the upgraded suspension handle? Is the ride rough or harsh?
The suspension has been carefully matched and tuned for neutral handling characteristics. All worn suspension bushings, control arms, and links were replaced during installation of the new Eibach and Bilstein components. The soft stock ride has been replaced with enhanced road sensitivity and confidence-inspiring grip and control. The car no longer pitches and dives during acceleration and braking, and remains relatively flat on corners, exhibiting progressive body roll. Tire pressure and sway bar adjustments can facilitate further tuning should different traits be desired by other drivers. The ride is tight and athletic, but I would not describe it as harsh or rough (your opinion may differ). Having owned many E34's with both modified and stock suspensions, I can honestly admit that I would never trade my car's excellent control and agility for the original ride any day.
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8. Are these the authentic M5 "Throwing Star" wheels or replicas?
These are the real deal, not imitation replica wheels. Replicas are made from heavier cast aluminum and the spokes only spin in one direction (which appears awkward on one side of the car). The real M5 wheels (almost $2000) are composed of 3 separate pieces, with different spokes for the left and right sides of the car that enhance brake cooling while moving. The forged aluminum wheels are also very light (17 lbs.) and strong (will not bend on potholes like cheaper cast wheels). I bought these wheels brand new from the dealer a year ago so they are in excellent condition too.
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9. Who performs the maintenance on the car?
I handle minor things like oil/filter changes, switch/sensor/bulb replacements, and other easy repairs myself (with the assistance of my skilled and patient father - Thanks Dad!). I prefer to let the big boys do the major work, like clutch and strut replacements, etc. All major repairs and maintenance activities have been performed by my trusted mechanics, who are more than qualified to work on my car. I have been going to see the guys at Auto Sportsystems Group for eight years and they have pampered my Porsches and BMWs. They are well-known among Porsche circles as excellent race tuners and are currently campaigning several Porsches in the World Challenge series. They also happen to work on a few lowly BMW's and Audi's on their spare time to pay the bills. If you would like to speak with my mechanics about the quality of care I have lavished on my car,
contact me and I will tell you who to talk to over there. For a listing of all service activity details, please refer to the service history page elsewhere in this site. Back to top

10. How many more miles do you expect out of the engine before a major rebuild or overhaul?
The BMW M30 engine (or "Big 6") is considered to be one of the best engines BMW ever built. The basic block design has been in service for decades in older 5 and 6 series cars, and the E34 535i represents the final and best iteration of this engine. With a robust cast iron block, timing chain, and modest compression, this unstressed engine has often seen 250,000 and 300,000 before rebuilds are necessary. You can confirm these claims with other owner experiences on the 5-series message forum. With its excellent performance and bulletproof reliability record, the 3.5 liter engine makes the 535i one of the most desirable E34 models on the used car market. I have always used Mobil 1 15W-50 synthetic motor oil every 3-5K miles and the engine does not leak a drop. With a solid powertrain and recently refreshed suspension and paint, this particular 535i is ready for many more years of enjoyment. Back to top

11. Has the car ever been in an accident?
Yes, the car has been in a low-speed fender bender. The damage was isolated to the hood, grill, bumper cover, and other cosmetic trim. No mechanical repairs were necessary other than the replacement of the radiator and A/C condensor (both were squished against the fan). Being a perfectionist, I demanded new replacements for anything with the slightest dent or scratch and ended up getting a lot of new parts (see below), including a new driver-side fender and some headlights. If interested, you may
contact me for additional specifics about the accident itself. Back to top

12. What parts have been replaced recently?
I have replaced many parts on the car in the past few years. My pain is your gain. Here is a quick list of some of the items I have replaced in the past 3 years (beginning with those items replaced most recently):
  • coolant level sensor
  • cruise control throttle cable
  • brake fluid reservoir grommets
  • auxiliary waterpump (updated design)
  • updated auxiliary waterpump mount, clamp, & fasteners
  • floormats
  • brake light switch
  • windshield wiper blade assemblies
  • rear differential (3.64 limited slip)
  • throttle cable
  • Kumho ECSTA Supra 712 tires (235/45 ZR17 front and 255/40 ZR17 rear); 75% life remaining
  • bracket for oil pressure sensor
  • gas shocks for hood and trunk
  • front passenger-side strut housing
  • updated ABS brake sensor
  • front passenger-side lower control arm
  • front thrust arm bushings (with 750iL part)
  • thermostat
  • Lamp Control Module (ProgRama upgraded LKM)
  • front brake rotors (ATE Power Disc slotted)
  • rear brake rotors (Balo BMW OEM)
  • reference sensor
  • heater control valve
  • rear exhaust hangers
  • front and rear shocks (Bilstein Sport)
  • front and rear springs (Eibach Pro Kit)
  • front and rear sway bars (Eibach adjustable)
  • rear Pitman arms, bushings, and control arm links
  • passenger-side sun visor
  • clutch assembly
  • pilot bearing, clutch fork, flywheel seal, and rear crank seal
  • driveshaft center support bearing
  • exhaust manifold stud
  • front driver-side lower control arm
  • upper radiator hose
  • 85 AH car battery
  • SRS slip ring in steering wheel
  • main relay
  • front driver-side window regulator
  • front passenger-side lower control arm
  • exhaust manifold gasket
  • HVAC limit switch (fan speed "sword" resistor)
  • clutch master cylinder
  • front bumper cover (540i Sport with brake ducts)
  • hood
  • driver-side fender
  • front grill assembly
  • airbag & steering wheel cover
  • driver-side headlight and foglight assemblies
  • radiator
  • A/C condenser
  • cooling fan and shroud
  • oxygen sensor
  • distributor rotor and cap
  • guibo
  • clutch slave cylinder
  • "duck" gasket
  • transmission flange lockplate and rear seal
  • tranmission shifter plug seal
  • windshield washer T-connector
  • master key & flashlight
  • front windshield molding
  • various bulbs, clips, and trim pieces
Please consult the
Service History page for exact dates and mileage figures for each item. This page also lists all items regularly replaced during major service activities like Inpection I and II. Back to top

13. Why are you selling the car?
After driving 3 different E34 5-series models, it's time for a change. I'm in the market for something different, and would like to find a good home for my baby.
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14. Is there anything wrong with car?
The Metal Master brake pads sometimes squeal at certain ambient temperatures. Everything else works great - the car needs nothing.
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15. Why should I buy a 535i instead of a newer 540i or another 5-series model?

While the 540i that replaced the 535i was undoubtedly faster, many owners prefer the simpler 3.5-liter straight-six engine to the problem-prone M60 V8. The V8 is a great engine, but does not have the same reliability record as the 3.5-liter six. Buying a used 540i or 530i may also be a risky proposition considering the recent issues about Nikasil cylinder linings that may fail and require an expensive short-block replacement. The 525i models feature a 2.5-liter "baby six" that just cannot compete with the 3.5-liter "big six" in terms of performance. In addition, the 535i includes many more standard features than can typically be found in a used 525i, which served as the value-oriented vehicle in the BMW model range. If you are considering an M5, then you are probably looking at the wrong website, as M5's offer more performance at a much higher price. My 535i represents a considerable value, offering good performance with many aftermarket bits that equal or exceed M5 specs.

Why should I pay more to buy your car when I can find other E34 5-series cars for less?
This car is not just any regular 5-series. There are several features that make this particular car more valuable and attractive to BMW enthusiasts and car connoisseurs alike. From the day it was manufactured, this Brilliant Red 535i with manual transmission already belonged to a very exclusive and rare group of cars. First of all, the 535i represented the flagship model in BMW's 5-series line-up from 1989 to 1993 and commanded a premium over the 525i models. It was obviously produced in relatively limited numbers compared to its more affordable sibling. Secondly, the 5-series cars were available in nine different colors, and Brilliant Red happened to be a rare request among the generally older, more conservative 535i buyer population. Lastly, this middle-aged market of 5-series buyers tended to prefer the convenience of having an automatic transmission in their "boulevard cruisers," making the manual transmission a very uncommon specification (accounting for approximately 5% of total 535i production). Only 4,838 535iM's were imported to the U.S. over the 535i's entire 5-year North American production span. These facts alone make finding a nice Brilliant Red, stick-shift, 535i difficult indeed. The relative scarcity of red 535iM's on the market has been compared to the same exclusivity enjoyed by the M5.

Now consider the current market of older, abused, high-mileage 5-series and my car continues to stand out. It is in excellent shape and looks more like a newer model than one built in 1990. The paint is only 3 years old, and the mirror-smooth finish far surpasses the original orange peel of the otherwise satisfactory factory paint job. The interior has survived well over the years, and has seen little passenger traffic (in the back seats especially). The mechanicals have been maintained by the best factory-trained and independent mechanics in the business, and I have already replaced much of the wear-and-tear components on the car. It is literally "over the hump" in terms of maintenance repairs, as I have refreshed almost every part on the car since I have owned it. I have also invested a lot of money and labor in upgrading everything from the suspension and wheels to the stereo and alarm system. It is ready for many more years of enjoyment and needs nothing. I constantly receive compliments on my car and people cannot believe how well it looks and runs at such mileage. Most importantly, the car has been driven and maintained by a series of conscientious BMW enthusiasts. This is not a garage queen, and has served me well as a daily-driver for almost 4 years. It was spec'd at the factory as a driver's car, and deserves to be driven by another BMW enthusiast.

If you are just looking for a nice 5-series at an affordable price, then you may find a more suitable vehicle elsewhere. If you are looking for a great example of one BMW's finest cars with a lot of performance goodies, then this is the right car for you. Check the 5-series message forum archives to read informal polls and opinions that agree that the 535iM is one of the most desirable and sought-after E34 models on the market.

17. Why have you built such a big site to sell your car? Are you a dealer?
No, I am a private owner who just happens to care a lot about my car. I have been an active BMW CCA member for years, have owned many BMWs, and am a true BMW enthusiast. I understand that my car is relatively rare and appeals to a very special group of people. Hopefully this website will help justify my asking price by showing potential buyers that I have been a very meticulous owner.
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18. Who do I contact for more information about the car?
You can contact me, Benjamin Trapp (the owner) for any additional questions. Please view my
Contact page to see how you may reach me. Back to top