In the early years of the 1990s, the writing was on the wall for the high-strung M88 derivatives. They were excellent motors, no doubt, but power levels were rising to the point where the M5 was no longer top trump. It enjoyed a small power advantage over cars such as the V8 4.2 quattro, true – with 276 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque, the Audi had less punch but more pull. But cars like the M119-equipped 500E changed the playing field; 322 horsepower was enough to overcome the S38 in the M5, but the big number was the 354 lb.ft of torque. That was nearly 100 lb.ft more than the S38 and it was more usable, too.
BMW wasn’t to be outdone, launching its own series of V8 for the 1992 model year. in 3.0 and 4.0 form, the modern aluminum motors dubbed the M60 brought new levels of power to the third generation 5. In fact, so potent was the 4.0 version that BMW decided the more expensive M5 was effectively redundant in the marketplace. The M60B40 was rated at 282 horsepower and 295 lb.ft of torque and and good enough to scoot the luxury car from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds even when equipped with a 5-speed automatic.
But there was a 6-speed manual option as well, and of course you could opt for the sport package that would give you better seats, springs and a limited-slip differential. These options turned the two-ton Teuton into an athlete. While this particular E34 started life as a 525i, it’s been given the full 540 treatment and then some, culminating in a Vortech supercharger for some serious punch:
In 1987, BMW wowed the U.S. market with the introduction of the S38-powered M6. In the shadowline of that model, though, was another special E24 – the L6. Essentially, the L6 was a standard 635CSi with a very special all-leather interior. Produced in small numbers for only the 1987 model year, they proved to be a bit of a headache for BMW. Like the all-leather dash M6s, the leather upper cover had a tendency to deform and BMW had to replace quite a few under warranty. The L6 also had leather-wrapped center console, the rear air conditioned storage compartment like we saw in the M6, and even a leather headliner. The L6 generally matched European models referred to as “Highline” packages.
When the revised ’88 E24 launched, the L6 was officially dropped as a model. However, you could still opt to get all of the L6 bits installed in your 635CSi, and that’s what we have here:
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!
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.
So much attention has been levied upon the BMW M Coupe that it’s easy to forget there was a non-M version of the E36/8. Equipped with the grunty, 190 horsepower dual-VANOS 24 valve M52/TU in front, a manual gearbox in the middle, and a standard sport differential in the rear, the Z3 Coupe offered high fun factor that wasn’t really present at the original launch of the model. The M52/TU lightened the load as well, swapping the M50 iron block for an aluminum one also seen in the contemporary E46 model. That was coupled with the dynamic shape of the “Clownshoe”; polarizing in looks, but hardly forgettable no matter your opinion. These have become niche cars that buck the traditional SUV-laden commute, yet are reasonably affordable and eminently practical as a daily driver:
The E30 market is undoubtedly a little overheated. But it’s not hard to see why these cars are so beloved, especially in the configuration seen here. With a tight, sorted chassis, willing six-cylinder motor that sends power to the back wheels, and a snick-snick manual gearbox, it has all the vital ingredients of an 80s German sporting coupe. Simple, fun, unadulterated. The Ultimate Driving Machine. And with high miles, this one may even be relatively affordable.
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:
The BMW M6 is quickly becoming the M bargain of the 1980s, replacing the M5 as the go-to Motorsports product from the company. There’s some irony in that, considering that in the period it was the premier product from Munich and until quite recently was considered the most valuable. However, as the M3 prices have soared and recognition that finding a clean E28 M5 is becoming quite difficult, the slightly more plentiful M6 is suddenly a more reasonable proposition. That said, prices on M6s are all over the map – from the low teens to well over the $30,000 mark. Today I have two similar looking 1987 models to look at; I usually focus on the updated and better looking (in my opinion) ’88s, so this is a slight departure for me. Besides the shining exteriors, where does the difference in these two models lie and are the asking prices in line?
Fans of the venerable and arguably original super sedan, take note! This post – and the included auctions – are two that you probably want to pay attention to. Why? Well, we have two examples of the awesome 1988 BMW M5 – not unusual, in all honesty, over the past few years. But the two examples differ in many ways; one is a flawed but original, lower mile example, while the other has high miles, plenty of modifications and is generally very clean. The kicker, though, is that both auctions are no reserve and with a few days to go on each, they’re racing for the top spot. Which will be garnished with the highest bid and where is the market heading?