As ’80s-All-Things-M-Mania’ has continued, getting into a clean E28 M5 is increasingly difficult – and expensive. Decently clean original M5s now start around $30,000 and can head up from there, with really exceptional examples selling for $50,000 or more. Didn’t this used to be the “cheap” M? Those days have passed and don’t show signs of returning soon.
What’s an enthusiast to do? Well, you could build your own. It’s not cheap or easy, but hey – if you’re in it to win it, why not see if you can source all the parts yourself? Or (and this is a much better option…) you buy one that has already been converted to M-specs. To maximize your investment, look for one with a rare set of parts attached, and preferably in European guise. Luckily, today we don’t have to look too far:
If you aren’t in the know, this weekend was pretty special for BMW folks in Asheville, North Carolina – the site of ‘The Vintage’. My Instagram and Facebook feeds were flooded with images of all the best of Bavaria heading towards the quaint western North Carolina city. It got me thinking – what was the best way to make a splash at such an event?
Of course, showing up in a fresh Euro 1983 635CSi surely would do it, and it’d be the perfect car for the roughly 14 hour drive for me to get there, too. When I wrote that 635 up, the competition that I suggested should be considered wasn’t the U.S. spec 635, though, it was the M6. The big ‘bahn stormer had the chops to overcome the weight of the large 2-door Coupe with the 256 horsepower S38 under the hood. It also has enough luxury to make the half-day drive feel like a blink of an eye.
Some considered the Euro car to be a bit on the pricey side. But when I came across this equally restored U.S. spec M6, it was a good thing I was sitting down. Suggestion: move the coffee away from your electronic device!
The M5 might not have been the original super sedan. It wasn’t even the first hot 5-series. But just like the GTI is synonymous with the hot-hatch segment, the M5 became the standard by which all other super-sedans were judged the moment it rolled onto the scene in 1985. Power seemed other-worldly; 280 plus horsepower from the race-derived M88/3 hunkered down with beefy suspension upgrades and huge (for the time) alloy wheels linked with a limited-slip differential. At a time when “fast” cars had 180 horsepower, BMW’s first M-offering in the sedan range might as well have been a space ship.
BMW promised limited production for the U.S. market, too – and, indeed, only 1,200 were produced for the U.S. with the slightly de-tuned S38. Unfortunately, that was 700 more than BMW had promised to make, and that led to a lawsuit. It also wasn’t very long before the M5’s power reign was eclipsed; first by its replacement E34 model, then by the whole range of new V8 models emerging on the market, from the 1992 Audi V8 quattro to the 500E. Values quickly fell as these old-looking (even when new) boxy rockets fell out of favor, and they remained there for quite some time.
But recently there’s grown a much greater appreciation for all things 80s M, and though the E30 has grabbed the headlines as the market star, outside of the M1 it is the E28 M5 that was brought here in fewest numbers. Even fewer have survived, and finding clean, lower mile examples can be tough. It can also be very, very expensive – Enthusiast Auto Group currently has four great ones on offer, but the lack of listed prices is an indication of some of the market volatility. Hagerty now values condition 1 cars at $98,000, and even poor examples are quite pricey. So is there room in the budget to improve upon one that’s listed at a bargain rate?
From the “Cars that need no introduction” file, witness the M5. So ingrained into the halls of automotive Valhalla is the M5 that it seems as though there was never a time without one. Yet while there were fast sedans that predated the Motorsport 5-series, the reality is that this was the blueprint which all subsequent fast sedans (tried to) emulate.
If you look up “benchmark” in the dictionary, the M5 should appear as an alternate definition.
But enough of the hyperbole, hoopla and heady praise. You know the details of what makes this car great. So what makes this particular one special?
We would be remiss if, during Shark Week, we failed to present an E24.
Well, here it is. And, frankly outside of the museum, I’m not sure that it gets better than this one.
First, it’s a late M6. They’re automatically better looking than the early M6s to me because of the color-matched bumper covers if nothing else. Second, this one is the perfect color combination of Royalblau Metallic (198) with Silver leather (201). Truth told, I’d prefer Lotus White Nappa (199), but I’m being quite picky. That’s because of the third item; with only 12,100 miles since new, this M6 is as close to showroom fresh as one can get it would seem. GREAT! I’ve found perfection! But, what price does that translate into.
Well, we have some comparable models to look at, amazingly. I featured a 36,000 mile 1987 reached $54,700 in bids this past April. The equally impressive 1988 Schwarz model with 32,000 miles asked $80,000. But this one? This one bats the asking price right out of the park at $135,000.
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.
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.
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.
At first glance, I was sure we’d covered this car before. After all, it’s not often that European specification 3.8 liter M5s come to market in Daytona Violet.
Or, is it?
Believe it or else, this is actually no less than the third Purple Porsche Eater that we’ve covered for sale in the U.S.. Back in September, Craig spotted chassis GD63734for sale. If that wasn’t surprising enough, I was pretty sure when Craig wrote that car up that it was the identical twin of chassis GD63657 – a car I thrice covered with three different sellers. But, no – today’s car is a chassis GD63375, produced before those other two 1993 examples, yet in the same outrageous shade of Daytona Violet Metallic:
While it’s easy to be a ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ and scoff at the prices for lightly used cars from the recent past, true time capsules like the Porsche Rob just wrote up are generally the domain of pure wonderment. How have owners been able to restrain themselves for decades without driving a car? This afternoon’s M6 is in a similar vein to the lineup we’ve been looking at; pristine, original condition, and low mileage. While the 36,800 accrued far outstrip those of the RS6, M3 and especially the 911 RSR, finding an all original M6 with below 40,000 miles in near perfect shape is certainly worth a look:
What is the price for perfection? That’s a difficult question to answer, but increasingly when it comes to 1980s cars, the level of preservation, originality and lower miles in low-production, desirable models has translated into quite an exacting price. Yet while lofty asking prices have become the norm on many of the hottest performance models from the 1980s, are their figures always justified?