When buying an E28, there’s an amazing breadth of options when it comes to style, approach, and history. Some go with the M5, an epic and significant performance sedan that comes with steep prices and even steeper maintenance costs. Some look to the affordable and classy daily drivers out there, highlighting the simple sportiness of this great mid-size generation. Somewhere in between, there are some fantastic modified examples, whether they’ve been turbo’d, Euro’d, or all of the above. Today’s E28 wears the sharp exterior of a Euro M5 with its slight bumpers, clean foglight setup and 80s-tastic trunk spoiler. The seller, a strong member of the MyE28 forum and owner of both an E28 M5 and Hartge H5S, has spared few expenses. Beyond the full Euro conversion, the all-black interior is redone including a leather dash, undergone a nice repaint, the M30 was rebuilt just over 30k miles ago, and much more. Despite the beautiful looks, excellent attention to detail, and a very reasonable price, he’s had a surprisingly tough time finding a new home for it.
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I think many of us know that in the world of performance coupes the Porsche 996TT is incredibly tough to beat on value. What about sedans? Where does the buyer in need of proper rear seating and a decent trunk look for performance value? The place to start almost certainly is the E39 M5. These also happen to be my personal favorite of the breed. With the E39 you get 400hp mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and a shape that seems almost perfectly proportioned for a sedan. These are aggressive appearing without being comically so and seem to have had all of the extra fat trimmed away. While later M5s would showcase improved performance the design has never appealed to me and the current models seem huge by comparison. Best of all, these days an E39 is about as reasonably priced as they likely will ever get. A really low-mileage example may command a decent premium, but for a driver-quality car they’re darn hard to beat. Here we have just such a driver-quality example: a Black on Black 2000 BMW M5, located in Arizona, with 56,610 miles on it.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay
Most E28 M5s have experienced some level of modification, whether it’s removing the self-leveling rear suspension, adding a chip and exhaust, or getting a little crazy with more displacement out of the S38. There are plenty of tuner options out there, but Dinan is one of the most respected names out there and this owner went to town with their catalogue. The usual suspects are all there from chip to short shift kit to intake, but one of the more interesting mods is the SLS upgrade by Dinan as opposed to the more common complete removal. It also has some amazing, blocky Dinan 5-spokes, which remind me a lot of Ruf’s classic rims. It all adds up to a modified M5 that appears loved rather than abused and looks every bit the late-80s hot rod it was meant to be.
Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay
I still remember trips with my father to the track in the early 1990s. We were on a mission; he wanted to look at every single E28 M5 and was dead-set on getting one. 1993 would be the year he finally would; to me, the amount of money he forked over seemed to be pretty astonishing for a used car, but at that time it was the newest car the family owned. Still, it seemed dated already; hard to consider seemed that at that time it was only 5 years old! But this was the time when ever successive generation of car made huge leaps in terms of innovation; frankly, exterior design and interior design haven’t become nearly as revolutionary as they once were. If you step out of a E28 into an E34, certainly you can recognize the DNA; but one feels very surely designed in the late 1970s, and the other is much more modern. The same can be said outside; clearly the E28 is a great looking design, but by 1988 it was quite dated and the last of the German holdouts for non-integrated bumpers to my knowledge. Even Volkswagen did a better job of hiding and integrated the 5 m.p.h. bumpers! The E34 was really a modern revolution to the 5 series; aerodynamic, refined, luxurious and handsome, it once again reset the bar for the mid-sized luxury sedan. And as it had before, the M5 also set the bar for performance sedans, with the same S38 inline-6 under the hood. It was magical still, even if it felt a little less raw compared to the earlier editions. While the E28 long languished as the unappreciated M product from the 1980s, slowly but surely it has gained more appreciation. Today, it seems the of the original pre-E36 cars, the one remaining value is the E34 – ironically, the upscale replacement for the aging dinosaur E28:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay
As much as we discuss 80s M car values getting pulled up by the E30 M3, they aren’t insane yet. There are still some great drivers out there for the same price as a brand-new economy car, which will always be a great argument for getting adventurous and buying a fun classic. This 140k-mile example isn’t the cream puff some middle-mileage examples have been, but it’s pretty well sorted with enough minor blemishes to keep the price in check. Buying an E28 M5 for reasonable money has been one of the most educational and fun experiences in my car-loving life, and this one is a good opportunity to get a decent driver without breaking the bank.