The new BMW M5 looks like it’s going to be a true monster of a car just from its spec sheet, not to mention Road and Track already vouched for its real-world bravado via a pre-production test drive. And from the sound of it, BMW has recaptured the essence of the early-generation M5s. The $140,000 price tag that comes with it, though, might be out of reach for most. So, this week, have a look at four BMW M5s that exude that same essence — because, as early examples, they practically are the essence. And luckily they come with a much more affordable price tag.
1988 BMW M5
What we like: Finding a first-generation M5 at a sane price point is becoming increasingly difficult. That’s why, as with other collectible vintage cars, you have to look for examples that aren’t exactly original. This particular ’88 M5 is in pretty good shape and has been well maintained; it has a few minor aftermarket touches, but they’re the sort that don’t take away from the experience.
From the seller: Modifications consist of a Turner Performance ECU chip, Motorwerks short-throw shifter, a stainless steel exhaust system, Bilstein shocks, 17-inch wheels, and an aftermarket CD player.
Location: San Francisco, California
1990 BMW M5
What we like: It may sound contradictory, but the amount of service that’s been performed on this M5 is actually a selling point. It’s low-mileage, so aside from the head-gasket issue, all the other work seems to be preemptive and not reactionary. And if you look at the work done on the car as work you don’t have to do (or pay for), the asking price starts to look more attractive.
From the seller: The previous Canadian owner rebuilt the motor, a complete overhaul was performed on the head with a Port and Polish, as well as replacing the rod bearings while upgrading to the S50 timing chain. The original pistons, connecting rods and cylinder walls were completely intact and were thus reused.
Location: Rego Park, New York
1992 BMW M5 Touring
What we like: The attraction to this M5 might come purely down to its rarity, not just in the world but in the U.S. Owning an M5 wagon stateside would easily earn you a spot in a very exclusive club.
From the seller: This 1992 BMW M5 Touring is one of just 891 produced worldwide and is a model that was never offered in the United States. The seller purchased the car from a dealer in Munich last year and imported it to the US in 2017.
Location: Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania
1999 BMW 540i M Sport w/ Dinan S2
What we like: Okay, so technically this isn’t an M5, but outside of Alpina, Dinan is one the few tuner companies that really know what they’re doing when it comes to BMWs. The full Dinan S2 package actually puts it a step above an M5 of the same vintage, so what you get is a wolf in an incredibly capable sheep’s clothing.
From the seller: The package includes upgrades to the engine, software (level five), transmission, intake, exhaust, suspension, mechanical limited slip differential, brakes, wheels and tires. The car has the BMW 4.4-liter M62TU V8 engine. With the upgrades, the engine makes close to 400 horsepower and over 400 lb-ft torque.
Location: New York, New York
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