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 1,239 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. This one appears to tick the right boxes:
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.
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?
When it comes to rare 1980s BMWs, the M635CSi is not the rarest but it’s one that always makes me dream. There’s a look that the European-spec E24s had that just is somehow much better than the U.S. spec cars to me. They look lighter, more lithe and aggressive. It certainly helps that under the hood lies the original Motorsport GmbH engine too; unencumbered by catalysts, the M88/3 gives you the M1 experience in a much more affordable package. Lighter weight, more power, better looks – what’s not to love with the M635CSi? And this car has the double trifecta too; the above attributes coupled with one-owner history, a unique color and low miles. Put that together with some great photographs and it makes one compelling package: