For someone coming from Europe, the strangest automotive obsession here in the States is enthusiasts’ lust for German station wagons with manual gearboxes. It goes totally against the stereotypical view of American drivers and their fondness of slushbox SUVs, big trucks and beige sedans.
The key word here is “enthusiasts” because ask anyone else or just take a look at the sales charts, and they’ll undoubtedly confirm those stereotypes mentioned before. It probably has more to do with the fact that they are so rare than anything else.
One of the prettiest estate models to come out of Germany in the 1990s was BMW’s E34 5-Series. Good luck finding the crown jewel of the series, the M5 Touring, but every once in a while, a V8 model pops into the market.
This custom 1995 BMW 540i Touring with a 6-speed manual has actually gone up for sale twice in the past two months. It was first sold on BaT Auctions in February for $17,000, but because the owner was unable to meet strict California emissions testing, he put it up for sale again on the same site, with a lower reserve than what he originally paid for it, despite the professional detailing done on the car while in his possession.
According to BaT, “Once landed in California, the car did pass the ‘sniff’ test but failed the visual inspection as the engine and chassis codes do not match. The seller says he knew it was a 50/50 chance when he bought the car, and unfortunately the emissions result is forcing him to pass it on”.
The other issue (at least for some) with this car is that it’s not original, as it started life as a 530i Touring with an automatic tranny before it was converted by a “BMW master technician using all OEM and largely brand-new parts”. The 3.0-liter V8 was swapped for a bigger 282hp 4.4-liter M6B44 V8 from a crashed BMW E38 740i paired to a Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox.