In our recent trip to Pebble Beach, BMW of North America decided to bring over to the West Cost some of their unique models currently residing at the BMW Zentrum in Spartanburg.
Along with the ALPINA Roadster we have already talked about, the folks over at BMW gave a selected group of journalist the opportunity to drive all the way from L.A. a 1988 BMW M5. We spent a bit some time in the M5 as well, and our review will be coming up soon.
The first ever built M5 was based on the E28 5 Series, and made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1984. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a sedan, but the overall performance of a sports car. It utilized the 535i chassis and an evolution of the engine from the BMW M1.
At its launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world.
Michael Harley from Autoblog has a story to share with us on the E28 M5.
Twenty-three years after it left the factory floor, I’m sitting behind the wheel of a 1988 BMW M5 cruising up Pacific Coast Highway. Unlike most cars with two decades under their floor pan (and the mileage to accompany it), this particular example is in pristine condition having just over 12,000 miles on its odometer. Owned by BMW Classic, the division tasked with restoring and maintaining historic BMW vehicles, and on loan to BMW’s press fleet, we’ve been handed the keys of this museum piece to partake in a caravan heading up the coast from Santa Monica to Monterey.
Full disclosure insists that I admit to having a serious soft spot for the E28 and the M5 in particular, so bear with me. As a teenager, my father had a 1984 E28 533i with a five-speed manual transmission. I learned how to drive stick shift on that car – and I took it to more than a few high school formals. The 533i was quick (181 horsepower), but it was no M5. When the M5 debuted, the posters went up on my wall, but I never had the chance to sit behind the wheel or take one for a spin. Until now…
Around town, the M5 feels a bit lethargic, as the throttle and steering aren’t as responsive as systems found on today’s cars (blame some old bushings, recirculating-ball steering, 50-series tires and dated engine management systems). The suspension is firm, but there is body roll. The brakes, on the other hand, feel perfect.
Tooling around town was a job for the ETA-equipped BMW 528e, not the M5, so I head for the hills. After about ten minutes of prodding, I’ve gained complete confidence in the black sedan. There isn’t a whole lot of torque down low, but keep the engine spinning above 4,000 rpm and the power is solid, only slightly eclipsed by the magnificent sound of the six spinning skyward. Thanks to the BMW’s near-perfect weight balance and responsive brakes, the M5 was and still is a joy to drive fast. And, it seemed to get better and better the harder I pushed it.