Litmus Test Double Take: 1988 BMW M5 and M6

Litmus Test Double Take: 1988 BMW M5 and M6

Neither the E24 M6 nor the E28 M5 need an introduction on these pages. Legendary even when new, they both captured the imagination of generations of German car enthusiasts and established the benchmarks for sedan and GT performance in period. Both went through a relatively long downturn in value, as well. And today, as each has moved firmly into classic status and the market ///Madness continues, each has increased in value considerably over where they stood a few years ago.

But with so many shared components, which is the one to get? While a lot of that boils down to personal preference, more so than ever it’s also dependent on your budget. We’ve seen asking prices for nice examples of each chassis hovering between $50,000 and $80,000 depending on mileage and condition, and with a hot market there’s no letup of good ones to choose from.

But what I have today is not the best examples of each. Both are higher mileage and neither is pristine. However, the real draw here in both cases is a no reserve auction format, giving us the opportunity to really see what’s what in the M market today.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5 Euro Clone

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5 Euro Clone

Let’s get the elephant in the room out in the open: this 1988 BMW M5 has 225,000 miles, and the asking price is $42,000. It’s also pretty far from original.

Still reading?

That’s good, because there’s really a lot to like in this particular example of the legendary chassis. First off, it’s one of the very, very few of the already scarce U.S. spec E28s that were imported with option 0232 – full black leather. That makes it one of 101 imported to North America as such, and of those only 30 were sold in the U.S.. That alone makes it quite desirable. But then this M5 goes a step farther, and by a step I mean several flights of stairs. Outside we have a European bumper and headlight swap; I know, some people prefer the U.S. setup in the same way that some people consider Marilyn Manson a musical artist. It’s also ditched the original M5 rolling stock for wider, modular and forged BBS RS wheels. And that high mileage? No worry, the S38 has been rebuilt and turned up a few notches, while the upgraded suspension has dropped down and stiffened the ride.

The result? Boy, does this look like one mean super sedan.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Ending Soon: What We’re Watching

Last week’s What We’re Watching post seemed to be a hit, so I’ve lined up another group of auctions. This time, they’re all affordable no reserve classics (or soon to be?). Care to wager on what each will sell at? Let’s start with a 5-speed Euro Porsche 928.

Click for Details: 1981 Porsche 928

It’s far from perfect, but here’s a 1981 Porsche 928 5-speed in Euro trim. The BBS wheels might look more at home on an early E39 540i, the paint is tired and the engine hasn’t run in some time (and what the heck is up with that shifter surround???) but hey, at time of writing the whole package can you yours for $3,000. Certainly it’s worth at least that in parts?

Click for Details: 1960 Volkswagen Bus

I said “affordable”, right? Well, with VIN tags of 23 Window Sambas selling for upwards of $11,000, this no reserve auction on a lovely restored ’60 seems like a deal. The color combination and condition are spot on, and it will be interesting to see where it ends.

Click for Details: 1993 BMW 740iL

Back to great values, and this 1993 BMW 740iL seems ready to please. It’s got lower mileage, the great E32 shape, a nice color combination and very good overall condition. Usually the big money has been reserved for the follow-up E38, so I think someone will get a great deal on this very nice ’93.

Click for Details: 1988 BMW M5

There’s been a lot of speculation on the 80s BMW M market, so seeing a no reserve auction on an M5 is both rare and offers us the chance to litmus test the market. Usually the cars that come up in no reserve format aren’t the nicest ones out there, but this one generally looks great.…

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3

Tuner Tuesday: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3

For me, the perfect counterpoint to the questionably presented C2 from a few days ago is today’s B7 Turbo. Just about everything in the B7 was taken up a few notches over a standard E28 (or even an M5), and this example exemplifies that perfectly in comparison to that E30.

The B7 Turbo models were, quite simply, some of the fastest BMWs made to that point. More to the point, they were some of the fastest cars in the world in the 1980s; Alpina claimed the E12 B7 Turbo was the fastest sedan in the world, for example. The B7S had bumped up to the 3.5 liter M30. Strapping their special injection system along with a KKK turbocharger and a host of internal modifications, the B7S produced 911 Turbo levels of power which made it (unsurprisingly) 911 Turbo fast. The model continued after the changeover to E28 model, but with some differences. Instead of the bespoke injection on the early model, Alpina instead reprogrammed the Motronic in the E28 to work with the turbocharged M30. The B7 was available in both catalyst (/3) and non-catalyst (/1), both producing 300 or more horsepower. Alpina claims they ultimately made 236 of these beasts by the end of production, but the catalyst version – a large chuck of which ended up in Japan – was the more rare of the two. Today, one of these mega sedans is available, and while a high percentage of the Japanese-destined B7s ended up with automatics, this one has a manual:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Alpina B7 Turbo/3 on eBay

1987 BMW M535i

1987 BMW M535i

While BMW Motorsport GmbH has a lengthy reputation for conceiving and building some of the most legendary icons of the 1980s, since their inception they’ve also had their hand in clever badge-engineered products intended to bring the magic of M to a larger audience. Starting with the E12 in the 1970s and continuing through today, first to hit the market was the “M535i”. Effectively, these were standard 5-series models with M-Technic bits added for a splash of style, but they lacked the higher-performance “S” (or M88/3, in the case of the M5) motors of their more potent siblings. But they certainly looked the part, with hunkered-down exteriors with deep chin spoilers, side skirts and rear valance and spoiler. Special M-Technic wheels were added to the E28 model which channeled aspects of the M1’s Campagnolo design coupled with hints of the original 1972 Turbo concept wheels. Inside a sport interior was met with more M-Tech details. Just as today, though mechanically these cars were appearance packages rather than performance-oriented, they’re nonetheless quite special indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW M535i on eBay

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

Market speculation about M values is nothing new. Indeed, head back to the launch of the U.S. M5 and you’ll find evidence immediately. In Europe, the M5 launched for the 1985 market year and was so successful, BMW announced in 1986 they’d bring 500 of the M5s over. They immediately were all spoken for, and consequently when the production actually started in 1987, BMW made more – not a lot more, mind you, but the 1,340 produced for North America was nearly triple what was originally forecast.

Consequently, owners who felt the collector value of their M5 had been dashed by this glut of examples sued the company in 1991. Further, the model was relatively abandoned by all but the most devoted enthusiasts in the 1990s for bigger, badder and faster modern sedans. But today it’s back with a vengeance, with clean examples fetching more than what they were priced at new. It therefore makes a little bit of sense that someone would have gone through all of the trouble to mimeograph the transformative super-sedan’s blueprint onto a lesser example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 525i on eBay

Budget V12: 1998 BMW 750iL

Budget V12: 1998 BMW 750iL

Do you only have $7k to spend on a car? Do you still want to look like a BOSS?

Then you should buy this E38 750iL. That is, of course, after you’ve put it through a PPI to make sure it isn’t about to grenade, and talked with your bank manager (slash significant other) to check you can afford the fuel and maintenance on this V12-powered cruise missile. The long-wheelbase E38 7-series is a real bruiser and a looker, especially in black: a behemoth in a bespoke suit. And while the electronics on BMW’s V12 motors are notoriously expensive to fix when they go wrong, the 5.4 liter SOHC M73 engine itself is fairly reliable. While power output at 320 hp is relatively modest for such a large lump, there’s plenty of low-down torque, the unit doesn’t suffer from the timing chain/guide failures that afflict V8s from the same era and, according to some on the forums, even manages to return a reasonable 24 MPG on the highway. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. The relatively puny M50 six cylinder in my E34 only manages a few more than that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 750iL on eBay

1987 BMW 535iS

1987 BMW 535iS

Some time last year I pulled into the parking lot of my university’s gym and spotted a student getting out of an E28 535iS. I walked over to compliment him on his ride. It had been ages since I had seen one on the road, and I had forgotten how neat they look. While his was saddled by an automatic transmission and a little rough around the edges, with the paint giving out all over the body, it still managed to look special. Because the iS is not really much more than a 535i with a fancy body kit and sport suspension, these cars haven’t yet begun to command the very high prices of the equivalent era M5, keeping them relatively affordable. I still haven’t yet entered full-on fanboy mode, but this video on Petrolicious, in which a young woman discusses her love for her E28 while driving it through sun-baked Californian streets, nearly sent me over the edge.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 535iS on Charlottesville, VA Craigslist

1988 BMW 535i

1988 BMW 535i

With its shark nosed, classically cool styling the E28 is a firm favorite among fans of 80s BMWs, but it’s the M5 and 535iS variants that get most of the attention. It’s not hard to see why. The M5 based on this platform was one of the first super sedans, laying down the classic formula for all modern Q-ships: supreme performance packaged in a stealthy, unassuming exterior. Meanwhile the 535iS appealed to those who wanted a bit of flash but couldn’t quite afford the full cream M-car, and was really just a 535i with firmer suspension, bodykit and sport seats. That isn’t a bad thing. The underlying car, introduced as a range-topper in 1984, was a winner, marrying the bulletproof M30 3.4 liter straight six engine (good for about 182 hp, in US emissions restricted form) with a tractable and responsive chassis. A regular 535i with a manual gearbox therefore offers a fun and relatively affordable alternative to the more expensive E28s out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i on eBay

Eye of the Survivor: 1983 BMW 528e

Eye of the Survivor: 1983 BMW 528e

It’s funny how priorities change. A decade ago, I would not have given a second look to a 528e. Growing up with a E28 M5 in the garage created both an appreciation for the E28 and the dichotomous dismissal of lower range vehicles. Sure, the M5-look 535is was cool, and alongside the M5 we even had a very nice ’85 535i that was a pretty good driver. But below that? No, I seldom gave the 533i, 528e or even 524td a second look on the road. Today, though? Even if it’s not a performance car by most standards, a survivor 528e is certainly worth a second look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 528e on eBay

1985 BMW 528e

1985 BMW 528e

1The 528e is a bit of an odd duck. The product of the oil crisis of the late 70s and early 80s, this was essentially a gasoline engined car that attempted to mimic the frugality of a diesel, at a time when BMW was yet to bring a diesel engine to the US market (the e stands for “efficiency”). Powered by a 2.7 liter, de-tuned version of the inline-six cylinder M20 motor, what you got was a car that offered all the good looks of the E28 5-series, but with none of the performance to back it up. In other words, you bought this car to drive cheaply and slowly with a bit of German style and sophistication.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 528e on eBay

1988 BMW 535is

1988 BMW 535is

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We all look back fondly on our first car. I enjoyed my short time with my 1988 BMW 325is. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t opt for another BMW. Many of the new ones lack the smooth manual gearbox of BMWs of yore and fail to fully capture that “Ultimate Driving Machine” aura. But now, the older models aren’t as interesting to me as they once were. Skyrocketing prices have put many BMWs of the 1980s out of reach of enthusiasts of modest means. In addition, there seems to be a bit of a hipster aura about them, as they have become popular with those wanting to stand out. Perhaps I was an über hipster for driving an E30 back in 1998? Do I care? Not in the least. I buy things more on spur of the moment emotions.

While I scan through countless ads for E30 M3s, E24 coupes and the occasional 2002 or E21, every now and then a BMW from this era grabs my attention. This late model 535is for sale in Utah is one of them. Representing the final year for the E28, this particular 5er has an engine swap, packing a 3.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 from the E23 745i. It’s not an original car, but has had some upgrades and a bit of freshening to make it a bit more appealing. It’s not what you would consider concours, but would certainly make an eye-catching daily driver.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 535i on Cars.com

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5

Following up on Craig’s Euro-spec Diamond Schwarz Metallic E24 comes an unusual E28 M5. There were a few things that caught my eye about this car; first off, Rhode Island is a small community and I feel like I know a pretty good percentage of the E28 M5s that live here, but this one was new to me. Not only was that unique, but the seller was selling two, with a 4-post black/black E34 to nicely compliment the original model. More things stuck out, though; immediately, the European bumpers and lights are a neat look, but it was inside and the black leather that really helps to set this car apart. About a month ago, Nate looked at a sacrilegious turbo swapped M5 with a non-stock black leather, but this one is claimed to be one of the original 101 all-black M5s imported to North America:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on Providence Craigslist

1988 BMW M5 M30 Turbo Swap

1988 BMW M5 M30 Turbo Swap

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Typically the legendary S38B35 is an engine that gets swapped into other BMWs, now out of them, but today we’re playing opposite day with this No-Effs-Given E28 M5. A little while back it received a turbocharged M30 transplant which is a pretty common setup for E28s – just usually done on more pedestrian models than the extremely rare M. A unique aspect to this auction is that the S38 comes with it, so you have the opportunity to ride the turbo monster as long as you please while retaining the prospect of putting the numbers-matching engine back in eventually. Even so, any hopes of originality are long gone after they spray coated the floor rooting out some rust, replaced the wheel and shift knob with anachronistic wooden parts, and spray painted the homebrew center console to accommodate auxiliary gauges. The one thing that I actually do think is original, contrary to the seller’s claim, is the black interior. With all seats, door cards, and interior trim in black, and miles instead of km, I think this may well be one of the 31 US M5s with black interiors (more than 2 the seller thinks they made, but still an extreme rarity).

This M5 has been hacked and sprayed to the point that it will forever be valued more like an E28 rather than the second-rarest M car. It looks pretty darn good from the outside, albeit modified with later wheels and yellow lenses, and the S38 alone could recoup a serious chunk of the purchase price. It’s already into 5-digits with a long time left on the auction and looks like this basket case M5 with its heart in a box will still pull decent money.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

1985 Alpina B7 Turbo

1985 Alpina B7 Turbo

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We’ve been having some fun with Alpinas recently, and the seller that brought us Carter’s E12 B7 Turbo is back again with a sexy E28 B7 Turbo. The E12 and E28 always look similar, and in grey with gold Alpina stripes these two examples further that notion, though the closed-lug 20-spokes help this 1985 B7 look a bit more modern. It’s No. 46 out of the 236-car run and is in beautiful shape thanks to good care and a repaint a while back. The stripes are still there, however, as well as the monster 300hp M30 turbo. The interior looks clean but 31 years old and used, though much better than the normal E28 wear on the seats. Other than that, from the Alpina-green toolkit to the gold name emblazoned across the front spoiler looks to be spotless and perfect.

Click for details: 1985 Alpina B7 Turbo on eBay