1990 BMW 5 Series SE 3.5 from UK and Ireland
Not as fun as a Carlton GSI 24v, but much better build quality.
Front driver's side shock leakage.
Handling is sloppy at 122,000 miles.
Radiator needed replacing.
Washer bottle sensor fault.
The head gasket needs replacing at nearly 124,000 miles.
Terrible petrol smell. Fuel lines were leaking and needed replacing.
Wiper tensioner system making strange noises from behind the dashboard.
Dash lights stopped working.
Needed new bulbs and a dimmer switch unit for dash.
A great performance saloon for not much money.
Se and sport models are best!
I find the automatic box responsive and tight considering nearly 124,000 miles on the clock.
The kick down in sports mode is a little sluggish at higher speeds compared to My previous Carlton GSI 24v.
She's a heavy girl and likes to drink the juice.
I'm getting about 23 mpg on average as opposed to the 14 to 16 mpg I was getting before I had the O'2 level adjusted.
If you are a perfectionist like myself, you may need to spend a bit of cash getting rid of those annoying niggles and get your 1990, 535ise feeling like new and into the new millennium.
As the handling was feeling sloppy I purchased a set of standard shocks and a set of Boge sports springs which dropped it by 35mm.
It now sits on a set of Breyton Magic 18" alloys and the performance has tightened up no end.
Looks a lot sexier too with a clear light kit and M5 boot spoiler!
I've had no rust problems as yet and the island green metallic body work is still as good as new.
The engine and exhaust I've kept standard as there is plenty of smooth pulling power already.
Just gave it a full service and sorted out those fuel lines and she's purring.
The engine has started to leak oil though and I suspect the head gasket will need replacing soon.
Leather tan interior looks very good for its age, but front seats are a bit to firm for long distances.
I've had My 535i for nine months now and I have to admit I'm missing the fun of my past Carlton GSI 24v and the comfort of my Senator 24v.
It's just a shame Vauxhall don't have a patch on BMW's build quality.
Thirteen years and still going strong.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th June, 2003
29th Apr 2004, 10:01
I have the same model and mine also is only doing about 15mpg.
20th May 2021, 16:47
Old, but excellent review. The E34 BMW 5 series is still a sharp looking car. Best looking 5 series in my opinion. I never had one, but want one now. They command high prices in mint condition. Boss had one back in the day and gave me a loan of it for a week, a 525i 1991. Loved it, SE model with leather, still one of the best cars I ever drove. The 525i is a balance of performance and economy, anything above 530i will do less than 20 mpg, but the smaller engined straight six's can manage between 20 - 30 mpg which is reasonable. Avoid the 4 cylinder 518i - how anyone can live with its slow performance is beyond me. Wasted in this car and is not great on fuel either so what is the point. But today in 2021 mint or good condition 520i and upwards are sought after. This car is not as reliable as BMW would have you believe though - lots of electronic issues, buy and inspect carefully especially at this age. Keep it as second car for weekend fun, definitely not a daily driver.