1991 BMW M5

1991 BMW M5

On Saturday I wrote up a gorgeous example of a 500E, the 90s-era super sedan from Mercedes commonly referred to as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” As cool as the Benz may be, the first car that comes to mind when you utter the phrase is probably the competitor from BMW, the E34 M5. Produced between 1988 and 1995, these were hand built at the M GmbH facility in Garching. To the pliable, balanced but twitchy-at-the-limits chassis they added a glorious 3.6 liter inline six with six individual throttle bodies. The S38 motor, whose ancestry can be traced to the unit found in the famed M1 supercar, puts out about 310 hp in US-market guise and swiftly propels the car to 60 MPH in under 6 seconds. Like the 500E, the M5 differed little from its regular stablemates in outward appearance. In fact, it’s probably even stealthier than the W124. There are no flared wheel arches here and only the subtle M5 badges fore and aft give the game away. That’s no bad thing in my book. The E34 5-series, even in base specification, is a classically styled car whose unfussy design still looks good on the road today.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Portland, OR Craigslist

//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

2002 BMW M5

2002 BMW M5

4The E39 M5 continues to be a firm fan favorite, and it’s not hard to see why. These cars offer a compelling combination of brilliant performance and everyday practicality, all served up in a beautifully balanced chassis with a slick 6-speed gearbox and screamer of a naturally-aspirated V8 engine. I have no doubt that they will one day be regarded as classics: perhaps the last of BMW’s M-cars from the analog era, before the advent of dual clutch auto-manuals, turbos and piped-in sound effects. Even nice examples aren’t that expensive today, when you consider how much car you’re getting. It’s probably a good time to buy one, since they continue to climb in value with each passing year.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums

2003 BMW M5

2003 BMW M5

3The E39 M5 is an everyday supercar whose restrained exterior belies the power that comes from the monster lurking underneath its skin, a 4.9 liter V8 that makes 394 hp and will scream its way up to a 7,000 RPM redline. There’s something very pure and unadulterated about this car, and this gives it a special place in the heart of most M-enthusiasts. That purity comes from the application of a very simple (and by now seemingly old-fashioned) formula: take a big, naturally aspirated motor and add 3 pedals, 6 gears and only subtle exterior modifications to the already quite conservatively styled 5-series body shape. The product is a practical, four door sedan that you can use to pick up your groceries and drive your family to the mall. Or, blitz around the track.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW M5 on eBay

1993 BMW M5 3.8 Euro-spec

1993 BMW M5 3.8 Euro-spec

1Long overshadowed by both the E28 and E39, I think the E34 version of the M5 is in fact one of the last definitive M-cars, and is certainly worthy of the kind of attention that it now seems to be getting among M-enthuasiasts (especially those priced out of the E30 market). On the outside it’s modern but understated, a little conservative even, with only a few external features distinguishing it from an ordinary ’90s 5-series. But underneath that utilitarian exterior lies a screamer of a straight six engine, the S38, which has a lineage traceable to the race-bred motor in the iconic M1. While production of this generation M5 ran from 1989 to 1995, cars outside of the US received a revised version of the motor in 1991. The new unit bumped capacity from 3.6 to 3.8 liters and pushed power output from 311 to 335 hp. This particular car is a European-spec example equipped with that larger 3.8 liter motor. It also comes in a rather fetching color.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums

1991 BMW M5

1991 BMW M5

2The other day I posted a 500E, which was Mercedes’ take on the Q-ship formula of stuffing a large, powerful engine and race-tweaked suspension into an ordinary looking mid-size executive sedan. What I didn’t mention was that the 500E was, of course, a response to the original (and some would say best) wolf in sheep’s clothing: the E34 generation M5. While I’ve posted a few E34s lately, I’ve so far avoided writing about the M-variant (though my colleagues have written up some really nice ones: see here and here, for example). This is only because my preference is to find cheap daily drivers to share with our readers and, as enthusiasts begin to seek out more affordable alternatives to the E30 M3, these M5s are increasingly becoming too expensive to count in that category. Still, when this lovely example popped up the other day on Bimmerforums.com, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write it up.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums.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

s-l1600
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

Feature Listing: 1991 BMW M5

Feature Listing: 1991 BMW M5

It is always a bit of a treat to look back at some alumni of the GCFSB pages, especially so when it’s a lovely example of a special car that was snapped up by one of our enthusiast readership. For years we’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. Recent market activity in 2015 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at $42,000 – steep sounding given what they’ve traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. But in terms of overall value, let’s consider today’s Jet Black 1991. It is nearly 100% original, fully documented, accident free and has under 100,000 miles on the clock – and currently represents the best value of the original M-car experience:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

1988 BMW M5

1988 BMW M5

s-l1600 (5)
I have no false hope that my 225k-mile E28 M5 is going to follow the low-mileage examples into the upper-five-figure price range, but it is fascinating to see where the mere mortal examples are ending up. The wrong-wheeled rustbucket I wrote up a while back almost hit $13k on its auction, a number almost as shocking as the $60k M5s on eBay. This E28 is hardly the dumpster-dive of Mr. Rusty, but the blemishes are plentiful. The clearcoat is failing on the roof, it has the classic 80’s bumper waves and dash cracks, the driver’s seat is conspicuously omitted from pictures, and the engine compartment has some surface rust showing. On the flip side, the trunk’s carpet set is complete, which will make you then envy of a plurality of the owners on mye28.com (me included). It sounds like it runs well and hasn’t been outright abused or neglected; it’s just a rare car that looks to have lived a pretty average 28 years. The reserve is still on with bids up to $14k. Compared to the rust-bucket, where will a high-mileage, 6/10 E28 M5 land?

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

Double Take – High Mile Heros: 1991 BMW M5s

Double Take – High Mile Heros: 1991 BMW M5s

Let’s say you want to buy a 1980s BMW M car. Great! You have style, class and enthusiasts everywhere will applaud your discerning taste. You don’t just want to pose, you want race-track bred performance and build quality second only to Mercedes. Great! Now, look at the market. Shit! You missed the bandwagon by about 2 years. Not to worry, though – German Cars For Sale Blog is full of budget advice today! If you want the best affordable 1980s BMW M product, you just are looking in the wrong decade. You need to consider the 1990s E34 M5, and today we’ve got what should be two more affordable versions of the more affordable version of what you want. So, do either of these high mile heros have what it takes to make your 80s M dreams come true? Cue the theme to The A-Team and let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

1988 BMW M5

1988 BMW M5

9w_800
Here’s a fun market check as the E28 M5’s ascent follows the E30 M3 north. There isn’t a ton of history listed on this M5 other than it was owned by a BMW dealer who spared no expense keeping it nice. After just 93k miles, that care shows. Every electrical item is said to work perfectly, while the few aftermarket choices appear well-chosen. The suspension has been redone with Koni, while an interesting brake upgrade helps slow the fastest sedan in the world (in 1988). E34 brakes appear in the back, which is a common choice, but the owner has managed to get Porsche units up front with drilled rotors. There aren’t any big power upgrades, choosing to let the S38 do its best while making it an overall better-handling car. All of this adds up to an E28 M5 that is very nice but not perfect or all-original.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8

Nate’s look at the E34 and E39 Dinan M5s over the past week is a poignant reminder of the factory-backed performance available in these super sedans. In the best style of “Q-Ships” – World War II merchant ships that hid surprising armament behind their docile exterior – they’re turned up but never outrageous. When it came to the E60 chassis though, with 500 horsepower on tap how did one increase the already world-beating performance? In Dinan’s case, there was no replacement for displacement, as they punched out the 5 liter V10 to 5.8 liters. The result was an additional 100 horsepower and around 80 lb.ft more torque while still maintaining the stratospheric redline. Yet that insane performance was available in a wrapper which looked no different than a standard M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8 on eBay

2000 Dinan BMW M5

2000 Dinan BMW M5

$_4
On Friday, Carter related the E39 M5’s star power, even when found in Green on Tan. Today, I bring you one of the most impressive E39s we’ve seen, a 19k-mile M5 with a heap of Dinan upgrades. It’s not quite the full S2 package, but it has enough points to achieve the DINAN trunk badge. As with all Dinan products, we can be sure that they only add to the M5 experience. If I had that supplemented driving machine, I’d have a hard time parking it, but this one has covered fewer than 20k miles. It’s usually a knock against ultra-low-mileage cars when they’re been tuned, and I guess it keeps this from being a museum piece, but we can be sure that it will command a hefty sum – both for the lack of use and the well-chosen, BMW-approved modifications.

Click for details: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay

1991 BMW M5 Dinan 3.9 – Revisit

1991 BMW M5 Dinan 3.9 – Revisit


The E34 M5 may be the least-loved of the breed, but who is going to argue with a 3.9 liter stroker S38? I adore my S38B35, and the thought of a torquier, gnarlier Dinanified inline-6 with an extra pint of volume makes me tingle. This Calypso Red M5 has made the rounds, first selling on BaT in 2012 for a relative pittance before spending the last year-plus trying to spin a profit. The speculative seller has repainted it but accrued fewer than 1k miles, making clear his intentions to cash in on a rare, tuned M-car. The reality that E34s aren’t appreciating like E30s or E38s has apparently begun to set in, as he’s asking now asking $6,500 less than in 11/2014. If you’re looking for a monster E34, this is probably the way to go. But when you could be getting an E39 with 60 more horsepower and a generation newer everything, does anyone like the E34 enough to pay the premium? I’m guessing the seller is going to have to have more patience or less pride before this M5 can start spinning its wheels again with a real driver.

-NR

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site November 28, 2014: