V.I.S.I.T: 1993 BMW 525iX

525ix1

I spent two years working at a BMW dealership over the last decade, yet not once did one of these ever turn up. Then, all of a sudden, this one seems to have become a permanent resident not three minutes walk from my house. I have to say, being of the genus Lazus Bastardis, I’m all in favour of potential V.I.S.I.T subjects coming to me rather than having to expend actual effort on my part…. And reading Antti’s tales of 518iness I felt even more inspired to put some trousers on and go look at this one.

In actual fact, the presence of any kind of E34 5-Series is becoming a novelty today around these parts, this ’93 example is the first I’ve seen in a long time. It was only when a closely parked Transit moved to reveal that extra letter on the designation, that I knew what I was looking at.

525iX4

I have a fondness for the E34. I took a ’90 525i in as trade against a Z3 once, it had 170k on the clock, a handful of well-deserved battle scars and an ignition barrel that had to be turned with a screwdriver blade. We gave the chap about a hundred quid for it, and because my car had been lent to a customer, I drove the 525i home that night.

It drove superbly. OK, only a choice selection of the electrical goodies still worked and the drivers seat recline mechanism was jiggered and slammed to horizontality when I went over a pothole, leaving me hanging onto the steering wheel for grim death. And the Radio faceplate had long divorced itself of communication with the head unit so the only music available was of the six-cylinder persuasion. But it still pulled well (though not as well as the later 24v version would have) and it still looked terrific on its 15″ cross-spoke wheels. Just like Antti’s does.

525iX2

The UK was never very generously served by Munich in the all-wheel-drive sedan stakes. We never officially received the E30 325iX, though rumours circulate that there may be an official UK one out there somewhere. A person on the internet tells us that a mere 283 of these ever found homes in this country, out of a worldwide production run of 9366 (so says Wikipedia). And here it sits, in a random riverside village in Essex.

This one actually looks to be in reasonable shape. There are some swirls in the paintwork, a few envy marks in the doors and evidence of a few too many heavy items being heaved in and out of the boot. The plain, efficient alloy wheels don’t seem to have been kerbed to death, and the cloth interior appears not to have suffered the usual “Edward Scissorhands Daily Beater” fate that inevitably prevails.

525iX3

I find the X an intriguing proposition. I’m keen to know what it feels like to drive. Does that four-wheel-drive setup exist as a silent partner, doing nothing to corrupt the fine balance that made the E34 a worthy platform for the “M” treatment, and only making its presence felt when the weather takes a turn for the worse? Or does it totally dominate proceedings like in a Subaru? Do the four driven wheels bite into the blacktop ready to propel you forcibly through that next corner? I have to say I enjoy both of those behaviours, and the idea of an E34, with a lovely, sonorous M50 soundtrack, and the extra reassurance of AWD traction, is rather appealing.

525iX5

Now, of course part of the appeal of the Blue and White Propeller has always been that you’re never far from rear wheel drive histrionics on demand. The 525i was never over-endowed with power for its weight, although the later M50 cars were better, but it took eight cylinders (unless it ws an M5…) or greasy blacktop before the tail of an E34 would really wag. How much would having up to 44% of torque heading to the front wheels rob us of that playfulness?

(All images copyright 2013 Hooniverse / Chris Haining)

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7 responses to “V.I.S.I.T: 1993 BMW 525iX”

  1. JayP2112 Avatar

    It was neat to see what AWD everyone came up with to have something vs quattro. Some were more elegant than others.
    Almost all of the 80's AWD systems were automatics while all the quattros were manuals.
    Hater's gonna hate.
    Where's Linda Vaughn when ya need her??

  2. Alff Avatar

    The E34 competes with the S1/S2 Jaguar XJ, the '60s Continental and the SWB Rolls Shadow for the best looking 3 box sedan produced in my lifetime. This gets the nod for also coming in an estate version.

  3. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    It seems like the AWD would find much use in the UK, aside from the wilds of Scotland and Wales. Then again, they seem to buy some Land Rovers over there… That Beemer seems rather well cared for. Nice catch.

  4. James Avatar

    Appealing, yes! But not with an M20 and an automatic… that would be one pooooooookey BMW!
    Now this+ a US S52 and a 5-speed, that'd be a winner.

  5. Battles Avatar

    Didn't the 4WD E34s come with an odd wheel size?
    Not sure I've seen those alloys on an E34 before so maybe they're the undesirable originals?

  6. Steven Avatar

    @ James – the 525iX comes with the M50 engine and the one pictured is a 93 / 94 car with VANOS
    @ Battles – Wheels are unique 16 inch, 7 ½ J wide x H2 with et54 offset (54mm / 2.13inches) – Light alloy style 6 or pressed steel wheels were offered by BMW * Style 6 were also offered for e38 7 series but with et20 offset as per http://felgenkatalog.auto-treff.com/ . The website lists the alloy wheels as 9.01Kg each.
    The plastic centre caps are 169mm in diameter and are shared with other e34 and e32 7 series. I have 17" 8J Alpina wheels from an e36 on one of my 525iX.
    @ JayP Two of my 525iX have manual gearboxes and production for the saloon started in April 1991
    @ Author – http://www.howmayleft.com lists the numbers on UK roads / untaxed. There are certainly more than one 325iX I had three at various times!
    I came across the official production figures for both left and Right hand drive Tourings / Wagons and 18 x 525iX touring were produced in 1991, 2165 in 1992, 897 in 1993, 736 in 1994, 637in 1995 and 130 in 1996 giving a grand total of 4,583. To compare 27,314 525i Touring, 30,505 520i touring and 6,923 518i Touring were produced 1991 to March 1996. The figures clarify the last 525iX touring as being made in March 1996.
    More about the awd = http://www.awdwiki.com/en/bmw/#5_series_E34_525iX… (the wikipedia e34 and X drive info needs correcting)

  7. Nelly Avatar

    That's mine! My winter saviour. Surprised to see it on the net. It's been with me for 6 years, as far as I know it's completely standard apart from some bits of broken trim I replaced, 140k, M50 Vanos 24v, 5sp auto with electronic trac, a/c and cruise. Lovely thing to tow with, bit thirsty, staggeringly capable in slippery conditions. Paintwork sadly vandalised where it's been parked overnight in Colchester. Build quality on another planet compared with my Alfas.

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