Can’t Buy It? Build It: An E34 M5 Touring In The US

We’re all aware of the ‘cool uncle’.

He’s a jack of all trades, he can fish right next to you and catch something each time he casts, while you’re stuck catching minnows…

He’s the guy that you trust to BBQ the food at gatherings, the one who might still be wearing short cut off denim jeans with a matching mullet while listening to The Scorpions. He’s the one who would take you out for some ice cream when your parents weren’t looking and the one who was always looking for an excuse to have some fun.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

In this case, my cool uncle – for the day, at least – was Ron Perry. Although, thankfully, without the short jeans and the mullet. Some of you might remember Ron and his E34 “M5” wagon from my first Speedhunters story on modifying classic BMWs,< Needless to say, after spending the day with Ron, it’s clear that he isn’t your stereotypical ‘cool uncle’, but the one with savoir-faire for anything BMW along with an added dose of class.

Ron has created what BMW should have brought to the US in 1992; an M5 Wagon. While BMW did indeed create an E34 M5 Touring, it never came to North America. An E34 M5 Wagon is one of the rarest production M cars ever to have been made, with BMW producing only 891 examples, all in left hand drive configuration for Europe.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

That being said, Ron left no stone unturned in his quest to build a US-legal M5 wagon. When I say that this E34 was built like a car off the assembly line in Garching, I’m not exaggerating.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

At first glance, this E34 Touring may not seem that much different from any other wagon on bags, but it’s when you start to take note of the subtle yet rare details, it becomes clear just how well put together this M5 is.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

From the slight flares on the fenders from the M5 body kit, to the M5 front and rear bumpers, everything is neat and tidy. Finding parts for the build wasn’t as hard as it would seem, but then again, when you’ve been in the BMW restoration business as long as Ron has, you know where to look and who to talk to.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

The set of paint-matched M5 mirrors along with a pair of Euro ‘smiley’ headlights just accent the look of the car in the same way BMW would have done it.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

You really can’t go wrong with a set of LED tail lights at the rear.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

With the exterior dialled in, Ron turned his attention to the interior with a full set of M5 sport seats trimmed in BMW M Rain fabric with matching door panels. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most iconic patterns that BMW has ever made.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

Along with the Rain cloth seats, Ron fitted M5 Bird’s Eye Maple Wood trim that flows with the interior design. 

In the same way that the exterior was done, Ron made sure that everything was just the way that BMW would have done it, including fitting Euro rear headrests, Coco mats and a ZHP shift knob.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

While an original M5 Touring came with an S38B36, Ron opted for an E.A.T. D’Sylvia chipped S52B32 from a 1997 E36 M3, matched up to an E46 330i six-speed transmission. While Ron admits that a manual transmission might not be ideal for his 100 kilometres (64 miles) daily commute, he believes that the performance benefit is well worth the leg cramps.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

Along with the motor and transmission, it features an M5 exhaust that tastefully blends the straight six’s output into a harmony.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

When it comes to practical suspension modifications for city streets, there isn’t much that beats an air suspension set up. Ron ended up going with an Air Lift Performance V2 kit, while also picking up a second kit for his E12.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

The controller integrates well with the period correct interior and allows Ron to adjust on the fly for the changing third world roads that many LA streets have become.

I’m always amazed by how much flexibility you have when it comes to air suspension, as it allows you the freedom to go from monster truck to snowplow in a matter of seconds.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

The air tank sits on a Coco mat in the trunk, while not taking up much cargo space.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

When it comes to wheels, Ron did that right too, with a set of staggered ‘Throwing Stars’ from an M-System II E34 Car. M-System II refers to when BMW re-designed their stock E34 wheels, the renowned ‘Turbines’, over to the ‘Throwing Star’ design in 1992. This ensured a period correct wheel choice on this 1995 model E34.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

Ron has been restoring and working on BMWs for the past 15 years, and has had the joy of owning countless other cars, but none compare to his wagon collection.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

Other than this E34, Ron’s daily driver is this stunning, yet slightly modified, 540i Touring. Currently, it’s sitting on a set of HRE 540R 19-inch wheels, while rocking an M5 front and rear bumper, M5 mirrors and a performance chip.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

But then again, it’s likely to go further under the knife once Ron has taken care of all the routine maintenance.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

The final member of Ron’s Touring trio hails from Poland, of all places. Ron happened to find it on eBay and suspects that it failed its TÜV (vehicle inspection) and given its age, it made sense to import it as it was DOT and EPA exempt.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

This E34 is about as Individual as it gets, featuring an Amethyst exterior and interior. Along with the set of AC Schnitzer rims, Ron plans on installing a set of CAtuned coilovers, swapping the current five-speed for a six-speed and ultimately fitting an M60B44 V8. However, these three wagons aren’t the only things brewing in Uncle Ron’s garage…

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - E34 Wagon

Stay tuned for a full tour and a rare glimpse of a piece of BMW heritage. 

While I’m a huge fan of absolutely mental builds, there’s something to be said about keeping it period correct, and I have the utmost respect for Ron and his passion to ensure BMWs are treated the way the Bavarians have always wanted.

Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt
Keiron Berndt Photography

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

33 comments

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
1

I really really at the least wanna see a spotlight on that E39 wagon. Those kinda cars are almost NEVER featured on speedhunters, it would be nice to see a couple on here.

Author2

I'm sure we could dig out a few!

3

I want to see at least one full feature of an E39, doesn't even have to be an M5, in the future. The number of E39s seen on here is lackluster, and if there are any, they're from years past.

Author4

Feel free to message me if you know of any!

5

Oh I wish I could but sadly I don't know if any seeing e39 m5s are not as common as you think let alone a modified one since now owners are more specialized in keeping them showroom fresh instead of actually using them for their intended purposes: to drive and to reflect a driver's personality

6

I reached out to you guys about my E39 touring with the LSx 427 swap but no one seemed interested. I ended up selling that car to build a supercharged E38 M7 but I know the current owner of the touring and would be happy to put you guys in touch.

7

There's a special guy in So Cal who builds E34, E39, and E60 M5 touring builds among others. All of his work is by word of mouth so far, but if someone is interested...

8

Yup, M5Jed is the man!

9

Yup! I'm not sure if he wants the attention, but this site will absolutely eat his stuff up!!

10

Beautiful car but far from a M5........

11

That first paragraph makes me think of my uncle, who owns this 1981 Corvette. Bought it brand new when he was a young man. Once he retires this year, we're probably gonna spend a lot more time cruising around and hanging out together!

Author12

That sounds awesome!

13

That first paragraph makes me think of my uncle, who owns a 1981 Corvette. Bought it brand new when he was a young man. Once he retires this year, we're probably gonna spend a lot more time cruising around and hanging out together!

14

Can "Uncle Ron" adopt me?

15

NR-80-SX is a Dutch license plate which belongs to a 1985 E34 525E Autmatic.

16

Also, it’s last inspection was in 2006, but it changed owners in 2011. My best guess it’s exported as the RDW doesn’t actually give me any data. Only third party websites.

17

That would be an E28.
Also the wrong licenceplate for the car since the letter-number-letter licenceplate was used on cars until 1990.

-the comment about legcramps in a manual? mabye get less eggs-are-sides and more excersise... Only in heavy traffic it might be a problem, otherwise it's easy doing even 800km or 500mi /day

18

E28, not E34. I cannot understand why anyone would place these hideous things on their car when it's not required.

19

Greetings from Poland!

20

Not sure why anyone would go through the effort to find period correct lights, interior and trim only to then fit a different engine and air suspension. To me: the engine and supension are what define an M car. So the title of the article isn’t quite right.

That said: it all looks very nicely done, so thumbs up!

21

I agree, more like M-Sport or iS

22

I don't see the problem of doing 100km on a manual transmission, especially on american roads where every road it's a highway.

Author23

Bumper to bumper traffic gets pretty tiring!

24

as a previous E36 m3 owner I was a bit let down when it did not have the correct "M5" engine.

25

really disappointed when I saw it didn't have an s38. Love the interior though!

26

Thumbs up for some "Bavarian Love" here on Speedhunters. Mister Dino-San hasn't share much news about project droptop lately, working crazy on his beloved GTR.

This touring is neatly put together, and that interior <3

But I can't wait to see a spotlight on that E9 3.0 csl "batmobile", as i wonder if it is a leggit AC Schnitzer works car, or a very nice tribute..

Big up from Fance !

27

Project droptop needs an update.

28

When is the author going to correct the factual inaccuracies in his story?

- The E34 M5 didn't come with flared fenders - they're the same as any E34.

- Can the author show us where exactly the LEDs are on those incandescent tail lights?

- The E34 M5 Touring NEVER had an S38B36. Ever. They all came with S38B38's.

We get that you're young and eager, but let's get some key facts right, k?

29

All US market M5s had the S38B36, so that's probably where that came from.
Even that motor would've been a better choice than an S52.

30

Ater getting to Drive uncle Ron's 540 to the shoot that day, I gotta tell you, its a highway weapon! I really had to keep my wits about me trying to keep up with Ron's e34 and my girlfriends Camaro. Awesome watching Keiron work behind the lens!

31

#wagonhunters
Love it entirely. Who wouldn't want that? The interior alone is great lol.
Diggin' the other wagons as well obviously.

32

All his cars deserve a feature it seems!

33
Serge ter Harmsel

That's a dutch numberplate at the front! It belongs to a BMW 525e saloon!

OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS