Coming up on 3 years into our relationship, I’m still loving my E28, largely due to how it reminds me of a time when cool cars didn’t have to be all things to all people. Today’s 524td may be at the opposite end of the powerplant spectrum from mine, it doubles the gas mileage and keeps the great 80s looks. It is truly shocking that this car has 203k miles on it – inside and out it looks like a showroom model from the year before I was born. At first I thought “that must be a redone interior,” but the presentation of the exterior and engine bay corroborate the seller’s indication that this is just an amazingly-kept, all-original survivor. It may be slow, but the E28 is a great car to practice carrying speed with. What a commuter this would be!
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The term “Q-ship” was created by the British, originally not to describe super sedans – but rather to describe a class of disguised merchant ships that were in fact heavily armored and carrying weapons. They were intended to fool German U-Boat crews into revealing their location – prior to unrestricted submarine warfare, U-Boats operated by a gentleman’s agreement where they would surface, let the crew of the ship know they were going to attack the ship and get off, and then they would sink the ship. However, these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” would later lend their name to an entire group of “unassuming” sedans equipped with larger engines and with sporting intentions. Often, the BMW M5 has been lumped into this category but I feel this is an incorrect name for it. The E28 M5 was anything but unassuming, with deep front and rear spoilers, large and wide BBS wheels, M5 badges front and rear and of course looking quite menacing in all black. To me, the Audi 200 20V is probably the ultimate “Q” ship – from the factory, only the slightly wider and slightly flared arches distinguished it from the normal 200 model; no badges, no spoilers, and sedate colors meant the performance under the hood was more or less completely hidden. Perhaps in 1985, when the M5 launched in Europe, people didn’t know what sedans were capable of – but by the time it hit U.S. shores in 1988, rest assured that every enthusiast knew what those all black E28s were:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay
I know not everyone agrees, but I think that the U.S. mandated 5 m.p.h. bumpers that were fitted to many of the 1970s and ’80s import cars were just horrible. Some manufacturers had sorted it out by the mid 1980s; Mercedes-Benz and Audi, for example, had managed to integrate the new bumper designs well into their updated large and small sedans so that by 1985 there were only minor differences between the ROW models and U.S. models – and importantly, the bumper covers didn’t look like an afterthought. But BMW seemed to stand in defiance, refusing to update any of its models until nearly the end of the decade. The result of that was that by 1987 BMW’s lineup looked quite dated in comparison to the competition. While switching those BMW models to the ROW bumpers doesn’t necessarily update the look, it certainly refreshes all the models and brings them closer to their original design – something I’m personally a big fan of. While all of the 1980s BMWs benefit from this, one of the most popular to swap European trim onto seems to be the E28 5 series. A classic since new, the great package that was the E28 is lightened and tucked in Euro guise, making an already good looking design sportier and more compact in just the right ways:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 535i on eBay
E30 M3s have been on my mind recently, but I’m thankful that considering the ways to get ahold of one has only served to remind me that the E28 M5 is the car for me. The M3 could only supplement, not replace the 4-door brawler. I just can’t do without the lines, the usability, and most of all the sweet howling fury of the S38. I bought mine with a healthy dose of mileage and a rebuilt engine so that I could explore, learn, and hammer on it without worrying too much about a pristine garage darling. The issues listed are common, but can range from simple (odometer – it’s not frozen, the gears are bad and easily replaced) to potentially complicated (seats not moving can be a simple switch or ridiculously-expensive motors). 120k miles is a nice middle ground where it’s not going to bring a huge premium, but it’s still pretty fresh for an E28. With a $9k starting bid, this could be a great deal on an appreciating classic.