This evening, I had an opportunity to test drive an E34 M5 for the first time. I've been obsessing over this car for the last two months, mainly due to this board, the e34 mailing list, and the few valuable internet sites that the car has spawned. In fact, I was somewhat concerned that I had over-hyped myself and would be sorely disappointed by the experience.
I was wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for my little adventure with The Beast from Bavaria. It'll take a crowbar to wipe this silly grin off of my face.
First, a little background. Power is relative. Had I been driving V8's all my life, I may not have been as impressed by the Beast. However, I come from a background of small 4-cylinder Japanese cars with sub 200hp. They're plenty fast when revved to the limit but lack the refinement and character of a powerful six. Besides, I've always loved the idea of owning a monster sedan. Fast...yet practical.
Enter the Beast.
Ok...the car I'm about to describe is far from the perfect E34 M5. ~120k miles '91, black on black, no chip, and stage I suspension (I think) for about $20k at the local dealer. It looked like it had been abused by it's owners, but my main concern was the engine and the transmission.
The engine had lots of discoloration (leaking oil?), a rough idle, and the check engine light came on during my drive. Not very reassuring. A compression test is definitely in order. The transmission seemed vague with lots of slop. Would a short shifter help?
At the insistance of the salesman, I somewhat reluctantly (due to the condition of the car) pulled out of the dealership for a test drive. I didn't want to taint my first experience of the car with a outlier. I expected to be disappointed.
I caught the tail end of post-work rush-hour traffic and gently weaved my way though the lanes, getting a feel for the heavy clutch and trigger accelerator. The car felt heavy, yet surprisingly nimble for it's size. It seemed very capable of pulling it's own weight at these low RPMs. Nothing spectacular. The first hint of a smile touched my face as a I received a thumbs up from a stranger in a Boxster. Pleasently surprised, I waved back as I pulled off the expressway onto a quieter backroad. Few cars. Many curves.
The Beast awakens.
Up to this point I had only brushed up against the magical 4k mark on the tach, and I figured that it was about time that I became better aquainted with it. So I floored it. 4k blew by faster than I expected, and the Beast surged forward. What an absolute rush. Accelerate, brake, late apex, and charge out of each curve in the road. I was absolutely impressed with the handling of so heavy a car (I'm sure that the stage I suspension and rear camber helped with the understeer). And the engine, good God, what an amazing sound.
All in all, it was the most fun I've had in a car in a long while (including a brief drive in a friend's E36 M3). I was grinning from ear to ear as I made my way back to the dealership. Must have freaked out some of the motorists who saw me.
After some consideration and a lenghty discussion with the salesman, I decide not to persue this car. The kicker was the check engine light that came on on my way back (and no, I didn't push the car *that* hard). But I'm definitely convinced that a E34 M5 will be my next car. All I have to do now is find the perfect one. Heh.
Just though that I'd share the experience. Thanks for reading this far.
PS - Did I mention that the car was damn fast! ;-)