SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: BMW E34 M5 20 Jahre

BMW Motorsport GMBH was officially incorporated as a company in 1972, could anyone have foreseen the potential at that stage? Has any other performance company created so much success in the showroom and the race track? 

It has been the consistent value for money, exciting driving dynamics, style and quality engineering that has kept it at the forefront for the past 42 years. Any company could be forgiven for producing the odd clunker during such a long reign but where are they?

Each new model has been faster, safer, more frugal per horse power generated and successfully integrated the very latest engineering fashion of the period, the only downside would be the increasing weight but this has been experienced by each manufacturer in the same period due to safety features, the increase in comfort specification plus the need to sell in a competitive market place.

20 JAHRE
Most of you will be familiar with the recent 30 JAHRE and you're probably thinking we've made a typo. Well over this 42year period BMW have sold well over 300,000 highly profitable M powered units and won every championship they have entered. In 1992 to commemorate 20 highly successful years, they produced 20 celebration models (plus 1) of their flag ship M5 E34 3.8L model, all in ‘Mugello Red’ (on the orange spectrum, almost a Henna red) with unique to the model ‘cosmetic enhancements’ all were left hand drive and each sold new on mainland Europe.

With each car was supplied a 1/43 model in a display case and unfortunately only one is known to exist. The factory order numbers run from 4093388 to 4093407 consecutively (chassis numbers GD63473 to GD63498 though non consecutively) all were fitted with an inscribed plaque xx/20 fitted to the gear change console and produced in October 1992. 

The ‘cosmetic enhancements’ added to a cost of (pre euro - deutche mark) DM/£: 8500/2900 to the price of a new M5 at DM/£: 120,850/40,283 respectively. Each M5 was hand built and the last main stream production model to be so finished at what used to be the Motorsport factory at Garching a small village situated approx. 16km north of Munich.

Hand built meant that it would be manufactured on the normal E34 production line at Dingolfing (a standard 535i), then transported to Garching where teams would remove non Motorsport specific items and replace them with M5 specific adornments and engineering items; engine, gearbox, exhaust, brakes, suspension, wheels, body kit, instruments, seating. This process would take 2 weeks. 

In total over 12,000 E34 M5’s were built from 1989 to 1995.

GD62228 20JAHRE – PRE PRODUCTION
The vehicle featured here chassis number GD62228 was built as the ‘pre production’ 20j on 1992-02-04 in colour ‘Brilliant Red’ and used for display at the 1992 Geneva motor show. It had other duties as in the photography for the brochure and show cased the coming big thing – the car telephone, which is wired to the speaker system for hands free motoring.

The exclusive items to the 20jahre were the black wheel centres, carbon fibre trim to the dashboard and door panels, red seat belts with ‘Motorsport’ lettering, the Amaretta sometimes described as ‘rough leather’ (fake suede) to the steering wheel, gear knob & gaiter and handbrake lever. The fitting of the Recaro SR seats with black Amaretta bolsters and back panel with exclusive designed motorsport cloth in the centre sections (perhaps one of their best cloths) used also in the door cards and quite exquisite, lending a special ambience to the whole cabin.

Produced at the same time was the M version of the 8 Series, which unfortunately never made production, and it seems the red with black wheel centres was a popular ‘Motorsport’ colour combination for an eye-catching package.  

HISTORY
After completing its ‘cat walk’ modeling duties, the car was sold 10 months later through BMW Niederlassung in Munich which is often found in records for selling factory owned cars and so on the 16th December 1992 the service book was issued and ‘Einfahrkontrolle’ (first service) was carried out at 2572km on 11th January 1993 back at the Garching factory.

With so little road use in its first year it then covered an extraordinary 9301km in the next two months (an oil service was stamped 17th March 1993). The next service was 18th March 1994 with just 1138km covered in a full 12 months!

It is believed that the owner from 1992 until 2004 was Dr Ralf Dutschke a dentist from Oberhausen (unfortunately no longer alive) but he sold the car to his Dutch friend Jacobs Nienhuys with 159,000km recorded. Jacob recounted that Ralf had gone on to purchase the E39 M5 but never really jelled for the E34 M5 had got under his skin.

From an exchange of forum posts which have been recorded in the file, it would appear that Jacob was under the impression that he had purchased no 1/20 (from the plaque) of the 20J cars, but there are enthusiasts in Germany who are right on the ball with the records and ‘Karl’ from the ‘M5 board’ (forum) was instrumental in producing the facts via the factory build sheets. The 1/20 plaque in GD62228 was purely for photographic purposes.

I happened to have a random exchange of emails with Karl and another great enthusiast from Holland, Raymond Woertmann during which we discussed these 20J cars and I mentioned that I would be very interested if one could be found. The subject of colour was raised with the knowledge that the pre production car was in ‘Brilliant Red’ rather than the orangey ‘Mugello Red’ and I commented that ‘Brilliant Red’ was one of my favourite colours.

Serendipity, for just a handful of months later in 2008, Raymond alerted me that GD62228 was up for sale! Unfortunately I was unable to fly to Holland due to my four-week commitment at the Chelsea Flower Show but Tim (Jacobs’ son) agreed to provide me with first refusal. 

There followed my visit and it was arranged for a ramp to be made available, a price was negotiated and the car collected a week or so later. The genuine friendliness and hospitality from Jacob and his family made this one of the nicest buying experiences I have encountered.   

The world of the enthusiast has to be one of the most compelling, a world away from commercial enterprise, the friendly exchange of ideas, information and knowledge is most helpful and nourishing and in this respect I am deeply grateful to Karl and Raymond not least for providing the otherwise impossible link to this car.

Their knowledge and helpfulness (from which I have benefitted for the past 14 years along with many others in the UK through the ‘M5board’) have greatly enhanced our ownership experience of the M5 particularly by providing a door, ears and eyes into Europe and always with pleasantness and generosity of spirit.

Following the July 2008 arrival of GD62228 into the UK, it has resided in a ‘carcoon’ with trickle charger, each time the car has been started there has been nothing more than a couple of rotations before firing into life. With Specialist Cars of Stevenage our local M Power main dealer wishing to display it in their showroom, it was the perfect time to refresh this one off car with some TLC and discover how well it had survived its 22 years.

REFRESH, NOT RESTORE
This type of activity falls between two stalls and sometimes there is no clear line of separation. In extremis one could purchase all new parts and restore to better than new car or accept that the patina of age provides a story of its period and therefore refresh those parts that make sense to reliability and safety.

Sometimes there is no choice and this was the enticing thing with GD62228, for many of these business man’s express wagon’s are suffering from failing jacking points, rusty lower front wings and in a pretty manky condition elsewhere particularly if they have been subject to salt spread roads through the winter months.

In the sunny Californian states however one finds cars in perfect condition for the E34 models are essentially robust and well protected.

The work is now completed some 130 hours later. First however was a thorough cleaning of the underside with a mild de-greasing fluid and steam to remove the usual build up of road grime from the floor pan, wheel arches, suspension/brakes and associated running gear, so that inspection of the vital parts could be carried out. Much of the Cosmoline applied to the car when new is still evident and retained for the protection and patina it provides.

The lower front wings are vulnerable to ‘silt laden spray’ that by-passes the plastic inner wheel arch protectors and eventually builds up on the horizontal section as a damaging poultice. The only way to deal with this is to remove the complete front wing which in turn requires the removal of the side skirts, inner wing shields, front bumper, headlamp surround and lower screen panels to reach the fixings. It is not a difficult job and once removed the silent enemy can be completely removed and remedial action taken.

The front jacking points are often found bent and rusty due to the assault by trolley jacks. Fortunately these were not bent (probably as a result of always being raised correctly through its full BMW Service history) but were suffering from a light amount of surface rust as they are blasted with road muck from the front wheels.

The rusty areas were few and mostly out of sight but did include the lower front wings. They required cleaning back to bare metal with shot blast and treated with POR ‘metal ready’ and a final two coats of POR 15. All body parts were cleaned and refitted, a few plastic fixings replaced. 

One of the rear EDC (electronic damper control) units was leaking badly and replaced with a spare and will be sent to the Nagengast workshop in Poland (as a pair) for overhaul and subsequent refitting. The associated fluid supply lines were replaced.

The entire braking system drained, the calipers sent away for refurbishing to Classic Car Automotive, which includes cleaning, re plating, fitting new pistons, rubbers, bleed nipples and tested. The flexible hoses replaced along with fitting new discs and pads. The fluid reservoir removed and cleaned before bleeding the system with BMW’s finest fluid.

The wheels were cleaned on both sides to remove ingrained brake dust, hardened copper grease, old balancing weight tape etc. the old tyres discarded for a new set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2’s. The scruffy wheel locking studs were replaced (they are still patterned the same to this day).

Having been disturbed with the removal of the front bumper, upon reassembly the head and fog lamp intensive cleaning system started to weep, this was remedied by fitting new hose and clips throughout along with the rubber grommets for the reservoir/pump.

The car received an Inspection 2 service including the all important valve clearances, the engine bay cleaned which necessitated the removal of the throttle bodies then refitted with new O-rings and the moving parts white greased. The coolant system drained down and refilled. The engine cover repainted.

Inside the car has thankfully led an easy life for the condition is 95% good which is as well for none of the fabrics are available and a mismatch would spoil the appearance. The paintwork is original except on the bonnet and a blow over to the n/s front wing and driver’s door. The paintwork has been subjected to a three day ‘correction process’ by Richard from Auto Car Detailing to remove the ‘ice rink’ finish (finite surface scratches).

The subsequent appearance is nothing short of a miracle, not every mark could be removed due to the depth of it, but 90% have gone and would never show up in daylight, the colour now has depth and life and transformed the appearance of this one off 22 year old.

The level of service by these companies has been truly professional.

Author and Photography: Richard Baxter – Chairman of the BMW Car Club (GB).

For more information on the BMW Car Club and becoming a member email, visit or call: 01970 267989 (Office hours 09:00 – 17:00).

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