The first generation of the BMW M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world when it was built, with a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 148 mph. It is also among the rarest modern BMW models in the world, with total production of just 2,191 cars.
Production of the M5 began in 1984 as a 1985 model year vehicle for continental Europe, with alternate versions for the UK, Japan, South Africa, and North America following later. All North American M5s of this generation are considered 1988 model year cars, even though North American production began in November of 1986 and ceased by November of 1987. All model years of this generation of M5 are fundamentally the same in body, equipment and features. Only minor changes occurred through the production run.
The M5 was based on the E28 chassis shared with the 535i, but included a more powerful engine based on the original BMW M1 sports car. The engine was a 3.5-liter DOHC inline six rated at 256 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. The engine was coupled to a five-speed manual transmission, and all M5s included a limited slip differential. The M5’s list price in the United States was $46,500.
The North American E28 BMW M5 differed from the 535i in several important ways. The M5 includes an air dam, fog lamps, custom BBS wheels, a rear trunk spoiler, and 10-way powered leather seats. Heated seats were the only available option at a $200 premium.
All North American M5s were painted in Jet Black, and almost all have a saddle brown leather interior. 101 cars were made with a black leather interior, though, and of these 71 were sold into Canada and 30 in the United States.
In all, 1,340 units of the M5 were built for North American (U.S. and Canada) export. That number figures prominently in the car’s history because U.S. buyers were promised that only 500 cars would be built and sold. A class action suit was filed, and BMW ended up providing each original owner with a $4,000 voucher towards the price of a new BMW.
Collectors simply cannot go wrong with a good condition M5 of this generation. As one of the rarest BMWs, and one of the best-performing, the cars have maintained good value and there’s every reason to believe they will continue to be popular. The rarest would include the black interior with heated seats, but that shouldn’t affect the price. They’re all prizes.