Function over form: BMW M-System "Turbine" wheels
The [E34] M5 came with an unusual wheel design. From 1988-1992 the M5 featured the M-System wheels. These wheels were 8x17J, but came with directional bolted-on wheel covers. Under the cover was a black 5-spoke alloy wheel. The press was critical of the design, often claiming it gave the M5 the appearance of having “white-wall” tires.
In 1992 BMW changed the design and a new cover was produced – the M-System II. The original intent of the M-System cover was to direct more air to the brake assembly to increase cooling. The cover actually integrated a fin assembly behind the cover. The M-System II covers, known as the “throwing stars” did not have as much capability to direct air to the brake assemblies. In May 1994, the M5 came with M Parallel wheels that did away with the cover (source).
Initially maligned, we have come to really like these.
- They announce performance. The association with the early E34 M5 is so strong, it’s hard to think of one without the other
- Not unrelated to the first point, the faux whitewall just looks badass. It is the anti 20-inch-rim-riding-on-30-profile-tires
- Some twenty years later, in the warm, fuzzy gauze of time, they seem very much appropriate for the period. They capture the performance zeitgeist of the times. And we really like that.
Fortunately for BMW, they did themselves no disservice by moving away from the Turbines, because the Throwing Stars might be one of our most favorite BMW OEM wheels ever (one of several), and the M-Parallel is likewise a very handsome wheel.
While the Throwing Stars arguably look sportier, if we had an E34 M5, we would probably run the Turbines in the summer, and a second set of wheels (on snow tires) with the Throwing Star covers in the winter.
Owners of other BMW models may prefer other sets of wheels for their vehicles.
Images via BMW AG