The BMW 520i is a variant of the E34 generation (1988–1996) of BMW 5 Series vehicles. The BMW 5 Series is a mid-size / executive car manufactured by BMW since 1972. The 520i was only available to the European market and was featured in the John Gardner novel Win, Lose or Die.
In the North-American market the E34 succeeded the BMW E28 in May 1988  with two models. The 525i used the BMW M20 engine while the 535i used the larger M30. The cars were a blend of BMW tradition and modern technology. BMW's traditional FR layout and straight-6 were used, providing the smooth engine and optimal weight distribution BMW customers had come to expect. The new 5-series also had a much stiffer body and was more streamlined than its predecessor, and had design cues introduced in 1986 on the 7-series by designer Ercole Spada.
The E34 was among the most reliable luxury cars on the market, earning the best-in-class ratings from Intellichoice in 1991, and still considered one of the most reliable BMWs ever made. It was also one of the safest cars on the road during its production, providing airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock-brakes, and a very rigid body structure to protect occupants in the event of an accident. It was also equipped with automatic stability control (ASC) or traction control (ASC+T) in later years on higher-specification variants.
James Bond's BMW 520i
During the course of Win, Lose or Die M prohibits Bond from taking his Bentley Mulsanne Turbo and recommends that he opt for a more subtle car from the company car pool; a BMW 520i in unobtrusive dark-blue.