The second-generation 5 Series by BMW has been regarded as one of their most significant vehicles ever produced, having sold nearly 750,000 units. It served as the platform for the first official BMW M road car, the M5, and was equipped with the staple BMW powertrains – a capable four-cylinder and a potent inline-six engine in various configurations.

Numerous technological enhancements characterize the BMW 5 Series of the 2nd generation. It replaced the E12 and was initially produced with petrol 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. In 1983, a diesel engine was available for the first time in a 5 Series. Additionally, the 524td was BMW’s debut diesel model, which held the title of the fastest production diesel vehicle of its time.

Best Old School BMW


The E28 5 Series was a prime example of a quintessential 1980s BMW and was epitomized by the limited-edition E28 BMW M5. Despite offering minimal options to North American buyers, the M5 was adored for its exceptional driving dynamics and low production numbers. It was produced as a 1988 model year for only 12 months, but it remains a favorite amongst fans and commands a premium over its non-M counterparts. Regardless of the E28 5 Series model selected, it embodies the best of old-school BMW.

In 1982, BMW introduced the 528e as their debut model, followed by the 533i. The automatic transmission was optional at first and only had three speeds (while a four-speed automatic was already available in Europe). However, by 1983, a four-speed automatic transmission became an option. The 524td was exclusively imported with an automatic transmission, while the M5 was solely imported with a manual transmission.


Starting in 1985, ABS brakes became a standard feature on all North American models. Electric front seats were also made standard in 1986, as cited. The North American specification cars were notably well-equipped, featuring standard amenities such as power windows, central locking, air conditioning, power sunroof, cruise control, alloy wheels, and fog lights.


Rather than importing the M535i, BMW of North America opted to develop the 535is. This variant is built upon the 535i platform but includes additional enhancements such as front and rear spoilers, sport suspension, and sport seats. To this date, the BMW 535is is still one of the most iconic 5 Series ever made.