At the International Media Launch of the new BMW M5, the Bavarians have decided to give us a closer look at the entire generation of M5 models, starting with the E28 M5.
There are a few different versions of the how original M5 began, told by a few different people inside BMW, but the best version was told by Paul Rosche. According to him, the the CEO of BMW, during a time of tension between East and West Germany, needed bodyguard cars to keep up with his turbocharged 7 Series, so BMW’s M Division stuffed the famous 3.5 liter I6 under the hood of a 5 Series and the rest is history.
That 3.5 liter sported 282 horsepower, which was unheard of for the time in a sedan. The M5 could take on the Porsche 911 of the time which was blasphemous for a car that could seat five comfortably and had all of the modern (for the time) amenities of a luxury sedan.
The North American M5 was equipped with a variant of the M88/3 called the S38 B35. The updated engine equipped with a catalytic converter that reduced the power output to 256 hp.
The S38 also differed from the M88/3 in that it had a dual-row timing chain as compared to the M88/3’s single row timing chain. The S38 B35 was used in the NA-Spec E28 M5 and E24 M6. Initially 500 E28 M5s were planned for the U.S. market, but BMW later increased production to 1,370 units for the US and Canadian markets.
Excepting 96 units that were assembled in kit form at BMW’s Plant in Rosslyn, South Africa, all E28 M5s were assembled by hand at BMW Motorsport in Garching, Germany. Production of the M5 continued until November 1988, well after production of the E28 chassis ended in Germany in December 1987.
The E28 M5 spawned a new genre of vehicle, one that would be mimicked by nearly every other automaker since, with none ever being able to replicate the magic that the original M5 had, BMW included.
Here is a photo gallery of the E28 M5 from Estoril, Portugal: