Let’s say you want to start a car collection, and for ease of argument’s sake, let’s say you’re really into BMWs. Which is the model you want? You could be a 507 enthusiast, love the classic 3.0 CSL or 2002, envy every E30 or lust over the modern muscle the company produces. But odds are if you’re reading these pages you, like me, gravitate towards BMW’s Motorsport models.
Within the Pantheon of classic models, there then comes the difficult decisions. How do you choose between the E30 M3 and the 1M, for example? Well, Enthusiast Auto Group has a suggestion. Why not have them both? Or, even better, why not assemble all of the greatest hits from BMW’s M division over the past 40 years and put them together into one curated, turn-key package?
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:
Two S85 V10 swapped 3 series in a week? Sure, we can do that! The crazy Hartge-modified H50 built on a base 325 is back and now for sale on eBay. The “Buy It Now” is the same $105,000 asking price as last winter, and with no new photos still this one is still a bit of a head scratcher in a few ways – especially since you can grab a S85 V10 M5 in the $20K range now. But it’s rare, it’s fast, and I’m sure there are still a host of people who’d like it – I’m just not sure at this price, though.
The below post originally appeared on our site December 14, 2014:
The Great Schism was a time of religious crisis for Europe; between 1378 and 1417, there were two Popes. In the early 1300s, a French-born Pope moved the head of the church from Rome to Avignon in France. This was significant for many reasons; Rome had been the spiritual home of the aptly named Roman Catholic Church since the establishment of the 5 main churches by the first Council of Nicea under Roman Emperor Constantine; the first Christian Roman Emperor and the one mostly responsible for converting Europe to Christianity. There are many more stories wrapped up in the ensuing 1,000 years of religious history, but ultimately let’s just say it was a pretty big deal to move the Chair of St. Peter. Ultimately this period, sometimes known as the period of Babylonian Captivity (itself a reference to the actual Babylonians capturing and enslaving the Jewish population about 500 years before Christ was born, if you’re into that sort of thing), resulted in a poor reputation for the Papacy and the Church, as corruption ran rampant through the higher positions in religion. So, in an attempt to correct things, in 1378 the new Pope tried to undo this by returning to Rome. This, of course, pissed the French off. So, they simply claimed they had their own Pope. And since this was during the Hundred Years War, this ultimately split Europe into religious waring factions, each aligned with a different Pope. Not to be outdone, the trading city of Pisa (yes, that leaning tower one…) also briefly claimed they also had their own Pope. Though it ultimately was resolved in 1417 by Church-wide decree that the true Pope was indeed back in Rome, it was the beginning of the end of the omnipotence of the Catholic Church in Christianity, which 100 years later would experience the Protestant Reformation, completing the religious divide of Europe.
Where am I going with this? I think the same divide exists between automobile enthusiasts; two camps, both of whom see their way of expressing enthusiasm as the right way. And, in general, at least one camp doesn’t like how the other camp does things. Ten years ago no one would probably have blinked an eye at someone modifying an E30 M3; however, ten years ago E30 M3s were still effectively throw-away performance economy cars to most people. So that someone hacked one up and threw a Dinan-stroked 5.7 liter V10 and 6-speed into one wouldn’t have raised eyebrows until they were the darling in the marketplace:
I know that, amongst the authors that grace these pages, I seem to do a lot of comparisons of cars, some of which are extremely unlikely comparisons. One of our readers termed my picks a “Cheese and Chalk” competition; in many ways, he was right. After all, how can you really compare cars that are in completely different demographic categories? To be fair to me, I don’t always do such, but in that case that’s the appeal of the “10K Friday” series – taking a fixed budget and looking at the wild variety of cars that’s available simply because they’re similarly priced. However, I also like to compare similar vehicles and that’s the case today. I have two rare examples of Dinan-modded BMW 5-series. On the surface, they’re quite similar – both grey metallic, both with light grey interiors, both with normally aspirated motors, both have silver multi-spoke wheels with polished lips, and both have 6-speeds. But the level with which Dinan has breathed on them is quite different; consequently, one has double the power of the other, more technology and more complexity. That model also has one tenth the mileage of the other, and unsurprisingly is on offer at ten times the price making these seemingly very similar 5s very different. Which is the winner in your mind?
While engine swaps on BMWs seem downright commonplace, there are the normal engine swaps (the well played out S50/52 comes to mind) and then there’s Hartge. The history between the two premier BMW tuning firms in Germany – Alpina and Hartge – is interesting. They’ve vied for the top spot for several decades with slightly different design philosophies. During that time, they’ve also seemingly flip-flopped; originally, Hartge took a more conservative route than Alpina, whose wild turbocharged creations challenged BMW’s own offerings. But after they were granted full manufacturer status in Germany in 1985, Hartge really came into its own and hasn’t looked back since. While like many firms they offer a line of aerodynamic tweats, wheels, exhausts and engine management chips, their party-piece is taking motors from the larger BMWs and popping them into the 3-series models. None of these conversions is more notable than the E90 H50 though. While the E46 H50 took the V8 out of the 5 series, the E90 had a V8 available in the lineup in the M3. Hartge therefore moved up the food chain to the E60 M5’s S85 V10. With a staggering 500 horspower out of the box and even 50 more with Hartge’s tuning, they transformed the rather mundane small executive sedan into a supercar:
As has happened with other series of cars, such as Audi S4s, there are currently several generations of BMW M5s that are converging on value, leaving you with some hard decisions as to which you’d prefer. Indeed, from their start through the E60 M5, the sports sedan got larger and heavier, but gained 2 cylinders per generation and corresponding power levels. The E34 BMW M5 was a refinement and softening of the E28 original design but kept the race-bred S38 inline-6. Purists eyebrows raised when the new E39 M5 launched with a 5 liter V8, but the 400 horsepower soundtrack has subsequently has become a serious legend and fan favorite. Purists once again held their breath as the E60 M5 launched, now with a 5 liter V10 – a high revving, howling banshee of a motor. All of them are serious forms of motivation, and the value of the first 4 generations are all coming into line. While I wasn’t able to find a good example of an E28 M5 for this writeup, I have the subsequent three generations to check out – which would you choose?
This 2009 BMW M5 isn’t really a full Dinan model, but rather a desirable car which has undergone some factory-approved Dinan modifications. Purists rejoiced when the manual option was re-added to the M5, but few seem to come up for sale. This particular model looks just about showroom fresh in metallic black hearkening back to it’s Grandfather E28. But what resides under the hood of this monster is decidedly not from an E28; with nearly double the cylinders and double the horsepower, these M5s will and can take on just about anything you can bring to it. The manual replaces the jerky-at-low-speeds and harsh shifting (not to mention expensive to service) SMG transmission, making the black interior that much more inviting:
Engine: 5.0 liter V10
Mileage: 65,188 mi
EXCEPTIONAL EXAMPLE OF A WELL CARED FOR M5, 6-SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION, ALL DINAN ENHANCEMENTS PURCHASED AND INSTALLED AT BMW OF BRIDGEPORT TOTALING IN EXCESS OF $11,000. (INVOICE INCLUDED) DINAN HIGH FLOW THROTTLE BODIES, DINAN HIGH FLOW MASS AIR METER, DINAN INTAKE ASSEMBLIES, DINAN FREE FLOW EXHAUST, DINAN STAGE 3 SOFTWARE, HEADS UP DISPLAY, NAVIGATION, COMFORT ACCESS, COLD WEATHER, MICHELIN PS2’S, ALL MANUALS, 2-KEYS, CLEAN CARFAX
To me these cars still seem like they just arrived on the market, so it’s amazing to me that they’re priced below $40,000 now. For mid-range 3 series money, this is a lot more car and a lot more special than run of the mill 3er. If you really want to announce your presence in the office park, the Dinan exhaust will do that quite nicely for you. Long term the 6 speed manual is the option I’d choose. This car looks well kept and dealer serviced, so there shouldn’t be any surprises of any sort except for the face on that Porsche 911 Turbo driver as you out accelerate them. Downsides? Like all M5s, there don’t seem to be many – this is truly a car for most occasions!