I'm Aleksey Korzun, from Brooklyn, NY and I can't wait to put historical plates on my car. This website is a by-product of me wanting to publicly document things I learned during the build process and exploring running a self-hosted Docker version of the Ghost online publishing platform.
I spend my early childhood in Minsk, Belarus, and this model of BMW became available to the general public when I was around nine years old. As you can image, the car instantly became the status symbol in that economy.
Fast forward to an 18-year-old version of me with a brand new driving license, browsing automotive classifies and stumbling on a gorgeous jet black E34 540I. I had to get it, no questions asked.
It's a fantastic feeling to buy a car and get to drive it anywhere – anytime you want. I was always interested in breaking and building stuff, so the car quickly became a drivable version of the Lego Technic kit.
Since the budget was tight at the time, I went thought your typical sticker, blackout, and questionable modification phase. The car looked hilariously bad at times, but it was a canvas, and learning is part of the creative process.
Tinkering with the car helped me understand a lot of different professional disciplines that are essential for constructing a vehicle. I got to play automotive technician, electrician, painter, and ended-up building good life long friendships.
- Vortech V3Si - 466 HP @ 10 PSI
- VF Engineering intake piping with K&N cone filter
- AEM digital wideband UEGO AFR gauge
- Auto Meter 2204 mounting cup
- Auto Meter 2614 Z-Series boost/vacuum gauge
- Auto Meter 2204 mounting cup
- Mishimoto oil catch can
- Bosch blow-off valve
- Spal 30102049 16" curved electrical fan
- Derale 16795 PWM adjustable fan controller
- Derale 16750 temperature probe
- Auto Meter 2282 radiator hose adapter
- Blue Sea Systems MAXI fuse block
- Factory replacement Alusil M60B40 block
- Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission
- Z4 short shifter
- M-Sport 3.15 limited-slip differential
- Polyurethane engine and transmission mounts
- Stainless steel Billy Boat dual exhaust system
- BBS Concave 18x8.5 ET 18 RA 520
- E34 M5 sway bars, brakes, and rotors
- Stainless steel brake and clutch lines
- Ground Control coil overs
- Strong-Strut strut bar
- Sparco 015TSDLN Strada steering wheel
- Sparco SPRINT 2019 seats
- Sparco seat side mounts
- VAC-Motorsports floor plates
- Sparco 3-point harness
- Custom AVUS E34 clock from Bavarian Restoration
- M-Sport 6-speed cluster
- M-Sport shifter sourround, boot, and knob
- M-Sport floor mats
- M-Sport door sills
- Upgraded interior lights to LED
- M-Sport mirrors
- M-Tech side skirts and rear bumper
- M5 front fenders with side marker delete
- M5 front bumper with brake vents
- M5 bumper trim
- M5 front and rear license plate filler
The final color choice was between AVUS and Daytona Violet. I went with AVUS and pretty happy with it. The body shop swapped all the rusted panels with rust-free replacements, did all the bodywork, primed, painted, and shot clear.
The restoration took almost half a year. I ended up acquiring the supercharger kit, ground control coil-overs, and a couple of other goodies getting the car back.
The car was finally picked it up a month or two before Christmas in 2015 and was towed it straight to Motorcepts. We attacked the car for a couple of hours, and I got to drive a mint, supercharged 540i/6 back home.
The satin vinyl wrap was the creative part of the project that helped me explore the bodywork aspect of the car. I learned how to swap and align the hood, fenders, four doors, trunk, and sunroof. I also played around with rust proofing and bodywork while preparing panels for the vinyl wrap.
I parked the car on the street and prepped the donor panels for a direct swap in a 1-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Jalopnik and Wheels @ New York Times covered the process.
In my defense, originally this was going to be a long weekend type of project, and I didn't realize that matte black vinyl amplifies the surface imperfections. Then I ran into rust spots, had to swap electrical harness, window regulators, and locks.
The car looked pretty cool at night, but I was never happy with the final result because there were too many imperfections, and I kept picturing the mismatched body panels that were under the wrap.
History of BMW E34 540i
The BMW E34 is the third generation of the BMW 5 Series, which was sold from January 1988 to 1996.
In 1993 BMW added a 4.0-liter V8 to the 5 Series lineup. It was available in both sedan and touring models (the latter not in the US). Its large, torquey engine, upgraded brakes, and 5-speed automatic or rare optional 6-speed transmission made it very competitive in the sports sedan market. Only 3203 examples of the 540i 6spd were produced.
A rare 540i M-Sport model was built in 1995. This package included not only a firmer suspension and sport seats but also used many parts from the M5, save for the engine and transmission. Only 205 "M-Sport" models were built, and just 139 of them with a 6-speed manual.
Canada also got a special version — the M540i — which was similar to the American 540i Sport but had even more M5 parts, such as 345 mm floating front rotors, 18-inch M-Parallel wheels, and various trim pieces.
Only 32 of these cars were built – all with a manual transmission.
Australia was last to receive 70 individually numbered
"540i Manual Limited Editions" cars that came with full M5 interior and the M-System II wheels but did not have the Motorsport S38 engine or the M-tech exterior kit.