2024 is here and it means we’re getting a new BMW M5 this year. The seventh iteration of the super sedan is set to debut likely in the latter half of the year and will come together with the return of the M5 Touring. In the meantime, a new video takes us back to the 1980s when the lineage started with the E28. It’s the rarest breed considering only 2,241 cars were ever made.
A video posted on the Audrain Museum’s YouTube account puts the spotlight on a US-spec car built during the 1988 model year. BMW enthusiasts know Americans got the shorter end of the stick by settling for the S38B35 engine instead of the more potent M88/3 that powered the first-gen M5 in Europe and South Africa. The catalyzed 3.5-liter inline-six derived from the M1 supercar made 256 hp and 243 lb-ft (330 Nm) whereas its uncorked European sibling had 282 hp and 251 lb-ft (340 Nm).
That kind of power doesn’t seem much by 2024 when even front-wheel-drive-based M Performance cars have over 300 hp. However, we shouldn’t forget cars were much lighter back then. An M5 E28 tipped the scales at just 1,430 kilograms (3,152 pounds) in European specification while its American sibling was slightly heavier. The new M5 coming this year will weigh well over 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs).
It’s not just the lightness that made older cars nimbler but also their smaller footprint. The first M5 was only 4.6 meters (181.1 inches) long whereas the new one coming soon will exceed 5 meters (nearly 197 in).
While it’s understandable to be nostalgic about the early days of the M5, one main reason why subsequent generations got bigger and heavier was to improve safety.
As a final note, BMW originally promised to make just 500 cars for the US market but ended up selling more than 1,200 units. That had legal repercussions as owners filed a class action lawsuit against the automaker. The issue was solved in 1993 after BMW agreed to give each buyer a $4,000 transferrable voucher to buy or lease a new car.
Source: Audrain Museum Network / YouTube