1994 BMW 5 Series 518i 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland


The most basic 5 Series, but still OK


Clutch, oil leak, driveshafts, suspension links, etc.

Minor electronic issues.

General Comments:

This silver 518 I had a while ago was an interesting car. Some minor points aside, I rather liked it, though I should have gone for a 520, not a 518.

In the UK these cars in this engine and setup were pretty rare (most were 520 or above) but it was still a 5 series through and through. I believe this engine was only available in certain countries.

Very nice exterior, love the style of the E34 5 series. Best looking in my opinion. I had the multi spoke alloy wheels, and the fresh updates for the 1994 model year.

Inside was beige cloth seats and black trim, very smart looking and comfortable. The car was a joy to be in and nice to cruise on motorways.

But good luck getting any performance out of this basic 1.8 engine in a heavy saloon. I believe it had a top speed of just over 120 mph which was OK, but 0-60 mph took 12 seconds or more! And I had manual transmission, dread to think what the automatic was like. Economy wasn't too great either, I was lucky if I got 34 mpg at best. As said before, go for the 520i and above - much better performance and you can still get around 30 mpg from the six cylinder cars. The only good thing about this 1.8 4 cylinder car was it was a simple engine and reliable if serviced on time. But it was still an odd choice of engine for this car, way too underpowered.

Still, despite thinking that most of the time I had it that a 520i would have been much better, my 518i wasn't a bad car. It was slow, but it was at least comfortable and reliable, and for a BMW it was as cheap to run as this type of car can get. I scrapped it back in 2011 due to an MOT failure (cost too much to repair). But at 17 years old with over 140K on it, I think it had done well :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th April, 2024

7th Apr 2024, 07:01

Performance marks 3/10 for a manual transmission 5 series? Your standards are high buddy LOL.

7th Apr 2024, 22:10

That was a 5-series with a 4-cylinder 1.8L engine, not even the 2.0 inline 6. For the weight of the car? I'd say 3/10 is about right.

1994 BMW 5 Series SE 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


E34 = Best looking 5 series


Sunroof won't work.

Auto-box a bit jerky as the miles rise.

Air-con is useless.

Far too many maintenance items to list; suspension, exhaust, brakes, etc etc. Most have been quite costly, but do not buy such a car and expect to run it on the cheap. That said, a lot of independent specialists can help you out for reasonable costs. Skilled servicing is a must for these cars.

Cosmetically, not much rust which is good after so many years (the car was always garaged), but the paintwork is faded in some areas.

General Comments:

I simply love executive cars from the 80's and early 90's, and the E34 BMW 5 series is a perfect example of one of them. Arguably the best, but I'll leave that up to you. I simply bought this car for a weekend fun as a usable classic, and it has been perfect for that very use.

I implore you to type "E34 BMW" into any image search engine if you have forgotten what this car looks like and tell me one thing - is there a more handsomely sculpted, boxy, muscular yet aerodynamic car in existence? You could name some Mercedes cars from the same time period and I would agree with you, but I think the 1988 - 1995 5 series clinched the looks title. People always comment on what a nice looking car it is, to ride in and look at.

520i SE in dark metallic green, the one to have (avoid the lethargic 518i). There are of course faster models, and the impressive M5, but if you want an entry level classic 5 series this is the one to go for. Slightly updated 1994 model with the smaller wing mirrors. Not a fast car by any means, especially with the auto box, but the car has more than enough power to keep up with everyday driving. Very smooth power delivery. Fuel consumption is anything between 25 - 30 MPG at best. Drive fast and you can expect a lot less. Typical for a petrol six cylinder older car. I believe this is the updated 2.0 six cylinder engine, earlier ones had less horse power, this has about 145 - 150 BHP.

The car handles great. Some say it feels too heavy but I have no idea why. The car is no heavier than today's executive cars, and the power steering feels perfectly weighted to me. I actually find older cars easier to drive due to better all round vision (no stupid big pillars) and the fact you can see the end of the bonnet and rear boot for judging parking spots. Quiet and smooth on faster roads.

Original multi spoke alloy wheels look amazing, but are a pain to clean. Inside the interior is beige leather that has held up well over the years, but the previous owner who I knew really looked after it, and was a non smoker, no kids or pets. Honestly looks like new and I love being in this car. SE model has all the electrics you would expect.

If you are looking for a usable classic, you could do a lot worse than one of these. Expensive when it does go wrong, and I do not think this car is as reliable as people made it out to be, but it is very, very good. My jerky auto-box will need attention soon; not looking forward to that bill, but it has generally treated me well and I like this car so much it will be worth it and cannot wait for the rest of this and next summer for cruising in style. One of BMW's best cars ever. Their value is only rising for looked after cars. I'll probably sell it in a few years for more than what I paid for it about 6 or 7 years ago.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th June, 2021

22nd Apr 2023, 14:24

Great cars from times gone by. Try a 540i or M5 next. You won't be disappointed ;) Keep a tonne of spare cash for fuel and repairs though!

23rd Apr 2023, 20:57

You have my respect for keeping such a gorgeous old (oh my, I’m getting old) car on the road. This era was peak BMW, in my opinion.

24th Apr 2023, 21:48

Great car, an era where cars were still fairly easy to diagnose and maintain. But, yes, having driven that and the E39 plus the one that came after, your car is heavy to drive. While the steering is only slightly so, the pedals are certainly heavier than succeeding cars. It's similar to the 3-series, the equivalent generation E36 is heavier to drive, same thing with the pedals, whereas the E46 and E90 are lighter (I had an E46 and now an E90). But those earlier cars also felt more solid in the body. You shut the door on an E36 and it feels like the glass was welded to the frame with concrete filling the door; the more recent ones feel more Japanese.

6th May 2023, 20:01

Repairs/parts maintenance on European cars usually increases after 60,000 miles, then skyrockets after 100,000 miles. That's because of the many European companies that provide various components for the European car makers... The European parts culture is fairly inconsistent... many parts are designed to last 60,000 miles while other parts will last well beyond 200,000 miles. Too many differences in company culture and mentality. Perhaps the fact that the people keep a new car only for a few years has pushed the market to align the quality with this period.