1989 BMW 5 Series 535i Sport 3.5 petrol from UK and Ireland
Fast, smooth, and cheap
Windscreen wiper connector rod fell off.
Seat fabric tore.
Fuel line rusted.
Minor body rust.
Jacking point rusted through.
This car is fantastic value - I only paid £1000 for it, and have spent less than £500 to fix it up.
It drinks fuel, however - you get 25mpg on the motorway, but it can dip below 10mpg around town. Avoid it if you have a jammed commute every day.
The performance is incredible; it's very smooth and sounds amazing. I used to think that automatic gearboxes were for granddads, but I would never go back now. It's much more relaxed when you're just getting from A to B, and when you're in the mood, or next to a GTi at the lights, just flick it into 'sport' mode, and it holds the gear up to the red line - fantastic!
I'd heard a lot about great handling on the 5 series, but without an airfield all you experience is endless grip at both ends. This could be a result of the wider tyres on the Sport version. A second consequence of this is that a new set of tyres will set you back £1000 (they're metric sizes, unfortunately). It feels very assured on all roads, and is great for munching motorway miles.
With 200,000 miles on the clock, it's a little tatty around the edges, but is generally very solid, and shows no sign of giving up the ghost. The full service history showed that it has been well looked after throughout its lifetime.
Be patient when you're looking for one, there are plenty around, but they tend to be sold within a day or two if they're at the right price.
I would thoroughly recommend this car, and will never go back to a small engine again.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 22nd October, 2002
The brake light switch failed after 204,000 miles. £100 at garage, but would have been £15 to fix myself (had I known what was wrong - I just got a 'brake lt circuit' warning on the dash)
The car was broken into apparently very easily by forcing the driver's door lock.
Otherwise I still love it. I have developed a worrying habit of cruising at 135mph on deserted motorways - but I can't really blame the car.
Please elaborate on what you needed to do and how to fix the brake lt circuit message found on dash. I have a 1995 530 and got the same message.
With my car the problem was the sensor (switch?) activated by physically pressing the brake pedal. It just needed removing and replacing - replacement cost £15.
However that message on the dash just means there is some sort of break in the circuit between the battery and the brake light.
If you have a circuit tester (about £10 from Maplin) or can improvise one from a bulb, wire, and battery, you can find out where the break is. I would try test the sensor first.
P.S. I 'upgraded' to a 1996 E39 540 in February, but would recommend that you stick with the E34 for as long as you can, since I have had far more difficulties and expense with the newer model.