In Reply to: Looking to buy a 535i 5 speed, a few questions... posted by Andrew on December 23, 1999 at 00:10:29:
This is a little off of the subject of your questions, but may be useful advice nonetheless. Like you, I have been searching for an E34 535i to replace a reliable but unsatisfying current car. I have been looking in the Washington DC area for over a month, and I expect to be looking for quite a while longer. This is what I have found:
1) Some BMW's appear easy to find with low mileage, probably because they often ended up as one of several cars belonging to a wealthy owner (325iX's as winter/ski season cars, M5's, M6's). In my area the E34 535i is definitely not one of them. As daily drivers, these cars usually have racked up 100K to 140K. The archives have numerous postings about high mileage not being a concern if the car has been well maintained, but it should be a concern if you might resell the car a couple of years down the line.
2) 5-speeds can be found, but are difficult to find clean and with less than 100K. The 535i was an expensive luxury sedan when new, and most buyers in that segment wanted automatics. Those who purchased 5-speeds were usually enthusiasts who put a lot miles on them.
All of that said, I am still searching for that elusive 535i 5-speed. Based on my test drives of 540i's, 535i's, and 525i's, I would be more satisfied with a 535i than a 525i performance-wise, and although the 540i and 530i are great performers, the V-8s are worrisome unless they have had their blocks replaced. Also, 1995 540i's, 530i's, and 525i's are easy to find, but are also substantially more expensive than the 1989-93 535i.
If you are interested in comparing notes and swapping info on finds (I have a list of DC, Philadelphia/Wilmington, and Richmond cars that I have looked into and decided not to pursue, which you might find useful if you live in any of those areas), then feel free to email me.