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1988 BMW M5

The 1980s brought big change to the automotive landscape. Technologies such as fuel injection, anti-lock brakes and airbags began to find their way into more mainstream motors. Vehicle segments like the minivan and sports utility vehicle also took hold. But for my enthusiast mindset, one car grabbed my attention like none other and changed the game when it came to high performance: the BMW M5.

Originally introduced to Europe in 1984, this E28 based super sedan appeared in the US for one model year only in 1988, even though all US bound M5s were built from late 1986 through late 1987. Available only in black, this 256 horsepower beast embarassed many a purpose built sports car on the road and track. Not only was it fast in a straight line, but the M5’s handling prowess baffled many to understand how the engineers at BMW Motorsport got a four-door sedan to behave in such a manner.

The E28 M5 was the fourth rarest M car ever built, behind the 850CSi, E34 M5 Touring and M1. This M5 is for sale right in my backyard of suburban Philadelphia. I’ve never seen it around on the streets, but it is clear from the photos and description that the attention it deserves has been lavished upon it.

1988 BMW M5 on eBay

My remarkably outstanding 1988 BMW E28 M5 is up for auction. It’s time to streamline a bit even though this is a tough one. My car has 168,000 well cared for miles and has never seen the rain or snow. I’m the 4th owner and all have been true BMW enthusiasts who pride themselves on impeccable maintenance. I have all records and you may email me at for a thorough overview of what’s been done and when (all on a single page word document). All fluids and maintenance are up-to-date and I literally just changed the oil (and filter, of course) with Valvoline VR1 20W50 Racing Oil.

The valves were adjusted at at 162,500 miles and the clutch replaced at 165,000. This was the first clutch replacement and it came out in very good shape. It was getting a little stiff so replacing it wasn’t excessive. The condition of the first replacement at that mileage indicates the responsible ownership of this car throughout its life. Aside from normal and thorough maintenance this car has Dinan Software and a Dinan Cam Gear. This combo adds to the low end a bit without sacrificing anything on top thereby enhancing the powerband for typical street driving. There’s an AutoThority Short Shifter Kit which has a GREAT feel.

The head unit is a Nakamichi CD-400 with Blaupunkt speakers in the rear deck. This is probably the only aftermarket head unit that “works” in this car. The shocks, springs and all hardware are new wtih Koni’s up front and Bilstein HD’s in the rear. The front is slightly lower than stock giving a more aesthetic look. The wheels are BBS RX’s and there’s no catalytic converter – please check your state laws on this before bidding, but you should be good-to-go in most cases.

The seat leather has been very professionally replaced and looks great. The only minor issue (which is a non-issue for most) is that the heating in the seats doesn’t work. Everything else, though, is fine. The tires are Bridgestone RE050A’s with about half or more of their life left. The air conditioning works, but has a slow leak. An occasional recharging resolves that if you even use the air. The only other minor issue is a slowly leaking steering hose.

Not only does it drive and run exceptionally well, but it doesn’t burn or consume any oil. I change the oil every 2,000 miles and don’t have to add any during that interval. The oil level doesn’t drop on the dipstick and stays a nice golden color during the entire 2,000 miles. This is (from what I understand) very uncanny, but probably a testament to having been broken in properly and handled with care throughout.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or would like me to email you the summary. This is truly one of the best examples out there of the venerable E28 M5. Thank you, Happy Bidding and I welcome any and all inquiries.

Even though we’ve come across lower mileage M5s on this site, I like this car not only for the level of detail provided by the seller but the fact that it has been used as intended over its quarter century lifetime. Personally, I’d be cautious when buying an M5 like this that has been stored away without regular exercise. E28 M5 prices, like many vintage M cars, are steadily on the rise these days. The last E28 M5 we featured sold for $16,500. That particular car had just over 100,000 miles. We even saw a 1988 535i Euro conversion sell for $17,455. I’d wager that this car might see a final bid somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000, as the higher mileage and lack of catalytic converter might hold it back a bit.



  1. KevinR
    KevinR September 30, 2012

    I’m torn about this car. I love E28 M5s. I owned an ’88 528e stick and it was one of the best cars I’ve owned. My brain tells me the M5 version should be that much better.

    However, the value of rarity is tied to having the correct equipment and having everything operational – two areas where this car falls short. This particular car has a lot of miles, non-original upholstery, non-original (and what appear to be wrong size) wheels, non-functioning seat heating, and non-functioning air conditioning. Of particular concern is the lack of catalytic converter. In addition to the violation of federal laws, I’d be very interested in hearing the explanation as to WHY it is missing. While it is notable that the owner changes the oil every 2k miles, I believe he should have extended oil changes to 5k intervals and spent the money saved on fixing the other problems.

    As I type this, the bidding has reached $8700 without having met the reserve. To me, that’s about as much as this car is worth.

  2. Larry
    Larry September 30, 2012

    THe seller appears open about the car’s needs, and seems willing to provide whatever additional information prospective buyers want. So maybe we can overlook a bit of exuberance in his description (“my remarkably outstanding 1988 BMW E28 M5”) and excessive/incorrect use of big words (“a more aesthetic look”). Maybe he should stick to the facts, like how he claims to be the 4th owner (AutoCheck calculates 6 owners since 1996), and somehow he knows that “all have been true BMW enthusiasts who pride themselves on impeccable maintenance” and it “has never seen the rain or snow.” OK, maybe just stick to the real facts.

    While the interior looks nice from here, Kevin’s point is well taken – there’s a lot of aftermarket or otherwise incorrect (or non-functioning, or missing) components here. It does have a lot of miles (with no mention of any significant rebuild work), and it will take some money to make just the most critical things right (passing emissions, repairing the A/C, etc. Not sure where he got the idea that “should be good-to-go in most cases” with a missing catalyst, and that non-functional heated seats “is a non-issue for most” (maybe if you live in Florida, but wait…the A/C is non-op also).

    While I share your opinion that the E28 M5 is one of those “must have someday” cars, this is not the one I’d consider – especially because the seller’s “remarkably outstanding 1988 BMW E28 M5” is “truly one of the best examples out there” (translation: the reserve is way out of line with what the car is really worth). Besides, the front hangs to low (for “a more aesthetic look”) and the wheels look all wrong.

  3. Larry
    Larry September 30, 2012

    BTW, when are you guys going to add an edit button? For some reasons, I always spot my typing and grammatical mistakes only after I hit “submit comment.” Help me out, OK?

  4. Dan
    Dan September 30, 2012

    Larry, Check out the new options for spellcheck and editing comments. Let us know how it goes 🙂


  5. Dallas
    Dallas October 1, 2012

    Larry, you said it all! How the seller can assert with a straight face that none of the previous three (or was it five?) owners drove the car in rain or snow is beyond me… I find that often, a flowery description (especially where the writer doesn’t get the big words quite right) is an indicator of a car that’s not nearly as good as the seller wants you to think it is 🙂

  6. Larry
    Larry October 1, 2012

    Thanks, Dan. That works!

  7. Cooter James
    Cooter James October 1, 2012

    This is a very nice specimen of a well cared for E28 M5. These cars are becoming increasing rare and this one appears to have been well cared for by this and previous owners.There are increasingly few left in this shape, and It is well worth whatever the owners’ reserve is and probably more, as it would cost many multiples more to get one back to this condition from a state of neglect. It will bring many more miles of joy to a new owner. Sated from a non-affiliated, informed, E28 owner 7 times over.

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