As far as I’m concerned, the E34 BMW is a forgotten soul. Not quite old enough to be cool by default, and not quite E30 enough to be flavour of the month. When was the last time you saw a nicely fettled E34 in the metal? Exactly.
If you liked BMWs in the 90s, you probably lusted after an E30 M3, or perhaps the exotic GT car that was the E31 850csi – you probably didn’t lust after an E34, because, well, the other BMWs of that era were just so bloody good that any chance of the limelight for the middle-management company rep was all but dead and buried.
I hear you say, what about the M5? Well, don’t get me wrong, the E34 M5 is an absolute Q-car, but at the time, there was the Lotus Carlton, the Sierra Sapphire Cosworth and the Audi RS2, against these, it wasn’t quite as, how do I say this, mental.
With even the hot M5 versions having not received the adoration they really deserve outside of enthusiast circles, the current crop of smaller engine variants serves up a lack of well kept, mechanically sound E34s to start a project with. I can only assume many were lost to the UK's horrendous scrappage scheme. The non-M5 cars are getting pretty rare and finding a good one is not easy these days.
In the midst of some truly awful E34s, Conor Auld is a man who got lucky. His Avus Blue 525i not only survived, it got better with age. Some cars don't need much in the styling stakes and the E34 is one such car in my opinion. Thankfully, Conor's E34 is a 525i Sport, so came with the rarer and more aggressive Sport bumpers. It’s a pretty handsome slice of 90s in the first place, so Conor's task was less Wayne Rooney hair transplant and more short, back and sides, if you will.
Like all good project cars, Conor bought this as a daily and started to pilfer parts from his E28 project to make things a little bit less “daily” and a lot more “show”. We’re really glad he did.
This car carries a moody presence, helped massively by changing what would have been clear indicator lenses for smoked Hella units and refinishing the kidneys in satin black. A few subtle modifications which keep things nicely OEM+. In addition, smoked front fog lights are crafty details which at first might go unnoticed.
The major changes to this car have been made in the wheels and suspension department. Having followed “the less is more” theme makes the wheel fitment the main focal point on this car. The car goes up and down thanks to Airlift Performance universal struts and V2 management. A really simple and effective setup, perfect for jumping on the ferry across from Ireland to attend shows.
Under those arches are a staggered set of AC Schnitzer Type 2s in 18” flavour. These three piece beauties look amazing sporting BMW “Steel Grey” centres and continue the OEM theme whilst spicing things up nicely, built out to 9.75” at the front and 10.75” at the rear for full effect.
At the back, the E34 wears it's heckblende with pride. It carries the rear lines well and accentuates what is a good looking car already. There's a AC Schnitzer rear boot spoiler, but not just any AC spoiler. For Conor, just having a regular AC wouldn't have done the job, so he commissioned Pete at Brooklands Fabrication to design and build him one with a sassy gurney flap/wickerbill.
The interior has undergone some subtle changes too, what was cloth is now black leather and the gearknob shifter has been swapped out for a CA Tuned item, all very classy, all very 90s.
Conor is definitely a hands-on kind of guy. His E34 build has been a labour of love, and all of the work has been carried out at home with help from his Dad. I’m a big fan of any driveway built car, simply because grass-roots modifying keeps cars that might have otherwise been weighed in for scrap on the road. Welcome to club built not bought. Props to anyone busting their knuckles building cars, we respect what you do and keep up the good work.
Conor plans to make a few more changes to the E34 over winter including an M50 turbo conversion along with spending time on his BMW E28 and Peugeot 205 Rallye projects. Keep us posted Conor!