5-Speed Swap: 1995 BMW 525i Wagon – SOLD!

Apr 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

April 27, 2021 Update – We confirmed the seller of this BMW Estate “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

When it comes to wagons, the Germans have been doing it right for quite some time. If only U.S. consumers weren’t so enamored by the cross-over, we might have a better selection of various Europe-only models that never make it stateside. Until then, we’ll have to rely on projects like this 1995 BMW 525i Wagon originally listed in April 2021 on Craigslist in Albany, New York with a complete five-speed manual swap and engine rebuild with less than 5,000 miles driven since completion, for $6,000. Comparing this price against the NADA Price Guide confirms this private seller has his manual shift wagon priced fairly when you account for the labor of the swap, as the “Average” retail is $4,925 and the “High” valuation is $6,475.

The E34 5-Series platform is probably one of the more recognized BMW chassis in the world at this point, given the longevity of the model line and the range of variants that appeal to enthusiasts. The base model 525i isn’t a thrill machine but is a perfectly affable commuter car when equipped with the five-speed manual. The same goes for the 535i, equipped with the durable M30 inline-six, or the rarer-still 540i that packs V8 power – and was also available with three pedals. And, of course, there’s the modern-day icon known as the E34 M5, which achieved legendary status for its prominent role in the cult favorite film, Ronin. The wagon seen here is yet another option in the E34 model catalog, but one seen far less frequently when compared to the other offerings in the early 90s 5-Series lineup. You could spec one of these long-roofs with a manual gearbox, but those are near impossible to find today.

The MotorWeek YouTube Channel currently features this Retro Review of a 1995 BMW 525i Wagon:

The rarity of a five-speed is why the owner of this example decided to take matters into their own hands and swap it to the preferred setup. In doing so, they also addressed numerous other failings typical for this era of BMW, effectively making it as close to a turnkey driver as possible. The cooling system was replaced, along with the exhaust, all power steering lines, rear subframe bushings, hood and hatch struts, and more. These are all typical wear-and-tear items the next owner won’t have to address. The engine rebuild included new timing chains, tensioners, guides, rings, bearings, and the troublesome VANOS unit, while the transmission benefits from a new clutch, slave cylinder, and throwout bearing. There are numerous other improvements listed, including a respray in 2020 with any rust spots and dents fixed in the process. It will need a new headliner and the front seats are tired, but overall – what a cool, practical daily driver with all the hard work done for the next owner to just drive and enjoy. Good luck with the purchase if you take this 5-speed swapped wagon home!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“-5 speed manual swapped
-Factory engine rebuilt last year and has less than 5k miles on it. Timing chains, guides tensioner, rings, bearings, VANOs unit etc were all replaced. Cylinder bores looked perfect with factory crosshatching completely intact but were deglazed and measured as a precaution. Clutch, slave cylinder, throw out bearing etc replaced with the engine rebuild. ***All tolerances are within factory spec. Plastigauges confirmed against factory assembly manual***
-Consumes exactly no oil between 3k mile oil changes with liquimoly – only the best with BMW filters from the dealer
-Check engine light is forever on – the desired EWS delete was done to the DME so this is normal unless you want a rebuilt DME. I’ve never felt the need as the fault memory has very limited functionality for this vintage.
-New bilstein springs and shocks 12/2019
-Full repaint done in 2020, all rust and body work done with the repaint, minimal rust/bubbles. All new belt line trim, new hood gasket (surrounding engine bay), new wiper cowls.
-New hood and tailgate struts
-Euro spec “smiley” headlamps
-New BMW fog light assemblies, amber turn indicators and front fender repeaters
-New windshield and glass in all four doors with four new regulators and motors
-Original exhaust with new exhaust hangers within the last year. Manifold gaskets replaced when the engine was out
-Cooling system rebuilt – new coolant pump, thermostat, hoses, radiator, expansion tank, coolant level sensor
-German level complex panoramic Sunroof doesn’t work
-Has no headliner currently, had to be removed to do the repaint but it was coming off anyway
-Working cruise control with trans swap
-All power steering lines replaced – steering is right and tight – not all loose like you’ll find with most e34s
-Rear subframe bushings all tight, replaced during my ownership
-Could do with new seats but are all usable and comfortable as is. Steering wheel is worn but not egregious. Rear wiper doesn’t work. Driver’s seat heater doesn’t work.
-Cold A/C with new blower motor
-Only ever 93 octane ethanol free gas since I’ve owned it
-Includes factory basket weaves with thick tread and period correct BMW steel wheels with BMW hubcaps wrapped in one season old studded Nokian Hakkapeliittas
-Comes with factory roof crossbars (Basket not included, crossbars not for sale separately)
-All maintenance up to date with the transmission, differential oil, coolant, power steering fluid etc in the last 10k miles
-Brake pads are all fat
-All in all car; needs literally nothing to drive you across the country and back.

Do you have a BMW 5-Series Wagon story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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