120 prototypes and over 500 pre-production cars later and the third generation E34 5 Series was born. The E34 5 Series was designed together with the E32 7 Series that debuted just two years before. The lower-slung wedge-shaped nose and higher, larger rear end are clearly reminiscent of its 7 Series sibling.

Despite its standard three-box body design, it was actually an incredibly aerodynamic car, with a drag-coefficient of .30, which set the standard at the time and was the benchmark for sedans for many years afterward. Though, its exterior design never managed to capture the hearts of enthusiasts like the E28 5 Series before it. While intelligent and well made, it just wasn’t as pretty.


On the inside, the E34 5er gained a significant amount of space, luxury and technology. Like the E28, the cockpit was very driver-oriented, but featured far more passenger space up front and was more luxurious.

There was an unusually large range of engines fitted over its lifetime, as nine different engine families were used. These consisted of 4-cylinder, straight-six and V8 engines.


Development ran from July 1981 to late 1987, with design specifications being chosen in 1982 and finalized for production in mid-1985. The E34 was launched in February 1988 and 1,333,412 units were built.


To honor the beauty of the E34 5 Series, BMW has given us a classy photoshoot of the middle size athlete.