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TUNED E34 525I: LOW LIFE

Posted by Matt Bell on 6th September 2021

Sitting super-low and looking seriously sexy with it, this static, wide-arch tuned E34 525i Touring is sheer retro-modded goodness at its very best.

Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Original Persona

There is something inherently cool about estates, some unknown quality that just makes them incredibly appealing and this is an almost universally accepted fact among car enthusiasts. There’s also something very right about the way BMW Tourings, particularly the classic ones, look – the lines are always so clean, so elegant and they’re just so right. By that logic, if you modify a car that looks so right to begin with, you’re only going to make it look even better because you’re starting with something so good in the first place, and Marcin Tatarynowicz’s (@the_gentleman_elite) super-low static E34 is living proof of that.

That Marcin has found himself cruising around in such a downright badass retro Touring is no surprise when we delve into his motoring past; “I’ve been into BMWs my entire life,” he grins. “I remember when I was young and the local ‘bad boys’ (mafia in the ’90s) had an E32 750i and it looked so cool. I think BMWs are all about pleasure, the joy of driving,” he smiles. When the time came to sample some Bavarian goodness for himself, Marcin kicked off his BMW ownership experience in classic style with an E30; “It was a 1984 318i two-door – the gearbox broke on my daily and it was hard to source another one so I needed something cheap and good. I bought the E30 for around £300 with an LPG system installed; it was the perfect cheap sporty daily, and it was black,” he grins and it was the perfect way to get him truly hooked on BMs, which eventually led him to this Touring.

“Why did I decide to buy this E34? That’s a good question…” muses Marcin. “I had always wanted a heavily modified BMW. I was planning to get another E30, however sometimes we need to grow to love a car and that’s what happened with the E34 Touring,” he says. “I remember this car from pictures on social media and the Internet. It was pretty famous and I even saved even a few pictures as inspiration for my own project one day. Then a year later the car was listed for sale; I found an advert on social media, the condition was pretty good and so I decided to buy it,” he says. Getting the opportunity to buy a car that you’ve long admired is not one you’re going to miss out on given the chance and buying this epic E34 definitely put a big smile on Marcin’s face. As for the whole built vs bought arguments on the scene, the simple fact is that if a car comes up for sale that you know and love and that has been done exactly the way that you would want to build a car, why wouldn’t you buy it? Cars don’t die once they’re done, they go on to spend time with new owners who will enjoy them, it’s just the circle of modified car life.

This tuned E34 525i makes a big impact from the moment you set eyes on it; everything about the way it looks is just so right and that is down to the incredible combo of the drop and the wheels and it is sheer perfection, but there’s a third, less obvious element that also plays an important role which we’ll get onto later. That dramatic drop must be discussed first because, really, it’s insane and we always commend commitment to lows on a scale such as this. Unsurprisingly, you’ll struggle to get anything off-the-shelf that would enable you to get your car sitting quite as low as this, and so this 5 Series has been fitted with a custom suspension setup. This consists of FK Automotive Highsport coilovers that have been modified to fit K.A.W. big inserts and it’s this combo that delivers those incredible lows but that alone wouldn’t be enough. These core suspension components are joined by modified camber plates along with a modified rear axle with camber angle adjustment, and these are necessary to get the wheels tucked and have the car drivable at the same time.

Of course, while a drop will instantly make a car look better, even one as dramatic as this is still very much reliant on the right set of wheels to really set it off. You don’t need us to tell you that the set chosen for this build looks simply sensational and the visual drama and impact these wheels deliver is just off the charts. They are AC Schnitzer Type II Racing 18s with silver centres and polished stepped lips and they measure a substantial 9.75”-wide up front and a simply gargantuan 12.25” across at the rear and we can’t fully articulate just how good they look here and how perfectly suited they are to the E34. Classic Schnitzers and classic BMs go together like the most delicious food combinations you could possibly imagine and this combo is a truly delectable one.

But, there’s something amiss here, because there’s simply no way an E34 could accommodate wheels of this width while sitting so low, and that is where this build plays the ace up its sleeve and we come to the third, rather elusive part of what makes this car so special and what makes it look so good. It might not be obvious at first glance, or even second or third, but really drink in this E34’s lines and you might notice that it seems to be just that little bit more muscular, with just that little bit presence and that is all thanks to the custom metal wide-arches that have been expertly blended into the bodywork. They add 1.5cm per side up front and an additional 5cm per side at the rear and they are this E34’s secret weapon, the reason it can comfortably swallow those wheels while remaining static. They also serve to give it that much more visual impact while remaining surprisingly subtle, which is arguably the best approach when it comes to E34 builds. The fitment is just pure perfection and this tuned E34 525i ticks every box when it comes to sheer visual drama.

The aesthetic enhancements don’t end with the wheels, drop and arches, though, and there are a few additional elements that further assist in getting this Touring looking so damn good. The first of those is the full respray in stunning Imperial blue metallic and it’s a beautiful dark blue hue that really complements the car’s classic lines. When the sun hits it and the metallic flake pops it ascends to another level and just straight up smacks you in the eyes. The styling is further enhanced by the Sport kit, which gives the E34 that extra hint of aggression and road presence, along with a set of US bumper trims and lights, which are joined by the pressed rear plate for the final finishing touch.

In terms of looks, then, this tuned E34 525i Touring has everything sewn up but it’s more than just a pretty face and there’s plenty more going on here. Proof of that resides in the engine bay; pop the bonnet and you will find a familiar-looking straight-six but this is not the engine this E34 started out life with. “It was born as a 520i,” says Marcin but it is now powered by an M50B25, which delivers a welcome boost in power over the original 2.0-litre ’six while a Simota carbon intake adds some sexy induction noise up front and a straight-piped exhaust system delivers an epic straight-six howl at the back. The brakes have also received an upgrade, with a set of E60 M5 calipers having been installed front and rear, and they’ve been painted yellow. Finally, on the inside, the Sport seats have been treated to a retrim and, to complement the classy wood trim and wooden gear and handbrake levers, there’s a BMW Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel, the perfect finishing touch.

This tuned E34 525i is an epic machine that delivers visual drama the likes of which you don’t often see, but it does it all without messing around with what makes the E34 such a timeless, effortlessly elegant and universally loved machine. Everything that’s been done to the exterior has only served to enhance the car’s natural looks, the wheels are the perfect period choice and even those wide arches blend seamlessly into the styling and leave virtually no trace of their presence to anyone but the most keen-eyed observer. Less might be more but a little bit more doesn’t have to be too much. This build blends subtlety and drama in a way that leaves you in awe. It is classic modded goals and it’s easy to see just why it was a car so admired by Marcin.

But things seldom stand still in the world of modding: time, tide and project cars wait for no one and the circle of life goes on. The E34’s original creator loved it, Marcin was the next lucky person to be able to enjoy it and now it has gone to a new home, a new owner, and that person is no less lucky as they have got their hands on one of the finest E34 Tourings you could hope to come across. As for Marcin, well he’s a guy who loves BMs and loves modding so he’s already got his hands full with two new projects – a 1985 K100RS bike (“My flying brick café racer project” he laughs) and an 840Ci Individual and they’ll be keeping him busy for the foreseeable future. Whether you buy, whether you build or whether you do both, we’re all connected by our passion and by the awesome cars we enjoy and that’s what this hobby is all about.

Tech Spec: Tuned E34 525i

Engine & Transmission:

2.5-litre straight-six M50B25 swap, Simota carbon intake, straight-piped exhaust with double shotgun tips. Five-speed manual gearbox

Chassis:

9.75×18” (front) and 12.25×18” (rear) AC Schnitzer Type II Racing wheels with silver centres and polished lips, 225/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Pirelli P Zero Nero tyres, custom low coilover setup with FK Automotive Highsport coilovers modified to fit K.A.W. big inserts, modified camber plates, modified rear axle with camber angle adjustment, E60 M5 calipers (front and rear) with 348mm (front) and 336mm (rear) discs

Exterior:

Full respray in Imperial blue metallic, M Tech body kit, custom metal wide-arches (1.5cm/side front and 5cm/side rear), US bumper trims and lights, US-style pressed metal number plate

Interior:

Retrimmed Sport seats, Nardi BMW wood-rimmed steering wheel