Looking at these two cars, i guess the BWM was looking for a more younger, aggressive driver type demographic while mercedes was still sticking to the refined upper market. but in any event there is one thing for sure, the E34 540i looks a lot outdated than the 124 E420. MBs seem to last longer without looking outdated. except with this new s class and soo to arrive c class and 2002 e class will all the cars looked dated soon.
the problem with the 540i V8s is the small block. i did a little research. since USA gas contains high amounts of sulfur, this seemed to wear away the block and the valves experienced leakages. a big problem that doesnt sit well in my stomach if i was to own this car for a long time. BMW has a full replacment warranty, but that is also a headache since it may or may not be honored. i heard they will honor it only if the problem arrises. i would want to problem to be solved before it happens!! so, on this stand point alone i would MUCH rather go with the MORE RELIABLE and STURDY as a TANK MB. its so typical for BMW to have problems. i hear about BMW problems all the time. the only thing that attracted me to the E34 540i is the low price i can get a decent german V8 sedan for..but in reality its not low since resale in the next few years will be ****! a used MB is still one of the best car buys since you wont lose much money.(some used jap cars are good buys too)
I do agree that the 5 speed auto in the 540i is nice. i wish the E420 had a more aggressive rear axle ratiod but like how you so eloquently stated...somethings has to be saved for 500E
love this forum....