Features

Jason Hower's E34 M5

Photography by Dan Wagener

For as long as Jason can remember, there has been a story around his area about an older gentleman that lived in the next town over with a barn full of immaculate, rare classic BMW's. He nearly crashed his car the first time he drove by when the barn doors were open. As he slowly regained his composure and continued to drive past, he saw it... a gorgeous Alpine White E34 M5 sitting in the driveway. He was smitten. At that time he was driving his old '91 525i, that he had just fallen in love with. So seeing an E34 M5 was a hell of an experience for a young E34 enthusiast and owning one was something he could only dream of. 

Fast forward roughly 8 years… when a friend of Jason's who lived next to the classic BMW collector stopped in at his workplace. He asked if Jason wanted to come outside and see what he was driving. Reluctantly, because it was a miserably hot PA summer day, he obliged. When he walked outside, he looked over and was caught off guard. There it was again, that pristine Alpine M5 that he drove by years ago. 

Immediately, he was jealous and asked if his friend had bought it. His friend explained that it still belonged to the guy with the barn, and that he was just doing a little bit of work to it for him. His friend went on to tell Jason that the guy would like to sell it though, and that's why he was having the work done to it. At this point, Jason's making his way over to the car to get a closer look at it, finally after all of these years. As he walked up to the driver's door, he peeked in and saw that phenomenal interior that he's only ever seen in pictures online. He was sold. Jason told his friend to let the guy know that if he was serious about selling it, that he'd buy it. He didn't even ask a price. Whatever he wanted for it, Jason was going to come up with one way or another to get this car. 

A few days went by and Jason was in touch with the owner. He'll never forget how nervous he was when he first met him. The guy was a local legend, and he's just some young guy who has done some questionable things to some nice BMW's. He was even hesitant to drive the E38 to his house, because he didn't want the owner to think Jason would "ruin" the M5 like some might say he did with the 740. As he got out of the car, he saw the man standing there with a glass of scotch on the rocks; and was suddenly relieved. He was an older gentleman in his 60's or 70's, who worked as a professor at a local university. They got to talking more about the M5, and he told Jason that he's only the second owner. The original was a female professor that he worked with at the university. He then went on to tell Jason that there was a good bit of documentation for the work done to the car. So, he went inside to grab it and came back with a stack of papers about 3 inches thick. In the stack was receipts for EVERYTHING… oil changes, inspections, tire rotations, recalls performed, the original window sticker, and even the original pink slip. Jason couldn't believe what he was seeing. He was ecstatic about the deal already, so this was simply icing on the cake. 

He then proceeded to show Jason the rest of his collection. It included a Zinno E30 M3, Euro E28 M5, E24 M6, Alpina E28, Euro E28 M535is, a pair of E12 M535is, Daytona Violet E36 M3, Z4M Coupe, and 2-3 Porsche's as well. All of the cars were near flawless, inside and out. The Euro cars that most people in the states have only dreamt of seeing, and even the US spec cars had rare parts on them that were only obtainable from years of scouring the web. It was surreal. Jason still gets goosebumps thinking about being in the presence of such beautiful, rare cars, inside of that little red barn.

He was so overwhelmed by everything going on, that he almost forgot the reason he was there for; to take ownership of the M5. After being there for an hour or so and drooling over the other cars, it was time for Jason to take the M5 for a test drive. He had spent hours in the previous days reading new car reviews, enthusiast articles, any literature he could find on the E34 M5. He wanted to know exactly what he was getting into, how these cars acted and performed. The owner handed Jason the keys and it was on. He jumped in the car, put the key in the ignition and turned it over. It fired up immediately, with its beautiful lumpy idle and that distinct S38 buzz out of the exhaust.

He was beyond nervous, his foot was shaking on the firm clutch pedal as he went to put the car in gear. The gearbox had such a nice feel to it, firm throws but not notchy, very precise shifts. It was perfect. As the car got up to temp and he got acclimated, he pushed the car a bit; a partial throttle low RPM second gear pull. His jaw dropped and nearly bounced off of the steering wheel. At a stop sign with a long, clear straightaway in front of him, he slowly pulled away in first gear and mashed it. It immediately loses traction. He shifted into second and it hooked back up before roaring to redline. He shifted into third and held on for dear life. It just kept pulling and pulling, the further up in the RPM's it went, the harder it pulled. He managed to find the self control to leave off and bring it back down to the speed limit before realizing that he had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face. He didn't know it was humanly possible to fall that deeply in love with an inanimate object. The car wasn't everything he had read it to be in the days before, it was so much more. So many of the things you experience driving one of these cars is indescribable.

He convinced himself to end the test drive and head back to the house to finalize the transaction. As he pulled back up to the house, the owner was standing there in the driveway with a huge smile on his face, likely because he knew the feelings Jason just experienced behind the wheel of that car. He got out of the M, grin still glued to his face, and told him that he'll take it. No negotiation, no back and forth, whatever he wanted for it he would give because it's worth every penny. Jason handed him the check, he handed Jason the title, they shook hands and thanked each other. Not only did a business transaction take place, but a bond was made for life thanks to this E34 M5. Years later, the car that almost caused him to crash, was now his own.

Although Jason has wanted an M5 ever since he bought his first E34 back in 2007, he never found himself at a point where he was in the market for one. Just before this purchase, he was actually 100% content with his E38. He had just refinished the RH wheels a few months before and was happy with how everything came together. He planned on keeping his E38 for awhile and figured he would try to be like a normal adult and save some money... and finally do some work to his house that he wanted to do since he bought it. Everything was going great and according to plan until his friend showed up with that M5. He had no regrets though. With only 1,678 E34 M5's originally shipped to North America, he may not have come across an opportunity like this again.

I think some of Jason's previous cars are also worth sharing as they were very tastefully modded too.

A favorite of Jason's was the S52-swapped 525i with 405k miles on the chassis. It was a beast and he didn't have much money into it. It's the reason he fell in love with the E34 chassis. Including the M5, he's owned about 6 or 7 E34's. 

Of all the cars he's owned and sold, the 1987 E28 535is was the only one that he truly regretted letting go.

This brings us to his last car, one we were actually going to do a feature on but I waited too long. I was disappointed that I missed the chance since he only lives an hour away, but I was more excited once I heard news of the M5. Anyway, he said the E38 740 was a great cruiser and rode amazing even for being slammed. His girlfriend and he spent many days/night in that car with their pup in the backseat just cruising around aimlessly.

Jason had every intention of leaving the M5 completely stock, since the previous owners had done such an amazing job of preserving its original condition. He sold his E38 to recoup some of the money used for the M5 purchase and the guy who bought it didn't want the RH's with it. So Jason listed the wheels for sale on the forums. He didn't have much interest, possibly due to the extremely aggressive widths/offsets. Then, he stumbled upon a set of nearly new coilovers for sale, for a super good deal. So it was kind of a no-brainer to pick up the coils and try to fit the RH's. After some very, very light rear fender rolling and trying 3 different sized tires on the rear wheels, he was able to get everything squared away and the outcome was beyond anything that he could've imagined. It looked amazing. 

Like I noted before, he didn't have any intentions of modifying the car, but things kind of fell together with the RH's. He said he's owned too many cars that just looked cool and didn't drive for crap (rubbing, scraping, on the bumpstops, etc). Which in some odd way that only people that have experienced it for themselves can attest to, is fun in its own respect. But, he's at the point now where he not only wanted his car to look good, but to be able to enjoy driving it. And drive it the way it was built to. 

So, the RH's are only on when he just wants the car to look pretty for shows and what not. Any other time, the factory M-systems with Throwing Star covers and good tires can be found underneath of this beast. I couldn't think of a better way to own an E34 M5 myself.