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Tuesday 17th April 2012

PH Fleet: BMW M5 (E28)

You've had the overview of the Harris fleet; with the M5 stirring from winter slumbers it's time for a closer look



Normally I can remember exactly where and when I first saw a particular car, but not the E28 M5. It was almost certainly in a copy of Fast Lane, or Car, but I don't recall the moment. This is strange because it is a car that would remain in my thoughts for the next 25 years.

M5 was a dream for Harris from year dot
M5 was a dream for Harris from year dot
I love this about being obsessed by cars - the ones you lust after remain a constant in your life despite the turmoil and changes going on around you. Girls, friends, houses, fads, facial hair - they are all transient, but one of the few things that has remained constant about me since 1986 was that I thought the E28 M5 was the coolest saloon car ever built. I still do.

My first M car was a ratty 3.0-litre E36 M3 - tough as old boots and damned fast. This was replaced by the king of bork, otherwise know as the E34 M5 Touring, which was marginally less expensive to run than Concorde. The arrival of children and family dog persuaded me that Garching's limited edition estate car would be the perfect combination of practicality and subtle speed. But looking back - given how often the pooch actually travelled by M - I should have bought an E28.

Rarity just adds to the appeal
Rarity just adds to the appeal
Rude not to
A few months after the E34 left someone told me about a recently restored E28 that might be for sale. There was virtually no history but it was clean - that was the information. It turned out to be an absolute stunner but still with zero provenance, which in cruel market terms is a bit of a problem. But, much like Marty McFly being called a chicken, I cannot stand certain market conventions, especially ones where bits of paper become more valuable than the cars they supposedly document and they spur me into rash purchases. Balls to convention - the car was a minter. A few months later, I bought it.

What is it about the E28? It's the first of its type from the modern era. An ostensibly normal saloon car using the hottest engine BMW could find. For people who enjoy classic BMW styling the E28 is the exemplar: the hip-kink, the top-forward grille, the driver-centric dash. It's a fantastically proportioned car. But most of all, every time I drive it I imagine what it must have been like to be a roadtester in 1986, when a seriously fast saloon car might just crack 22 seconds from rest to 100mph and suddenly BMW produces a car that looks little different to a 535i and will do the same in 15.6 seconds. It would keep a 3.2 Carrera very honest.

Simple and hardwearing in here
Simple and hardwearing in here
Feelgood factors
I love the fact that it's rare - apparently only 187 came to the UK in RHD form. It also feels like a car that was handbuilt - the quality of the interior is remarkable, the leather is thick and robust, the plastics durable.

The driving experience is even better, helped no doubt by a set of Avon tyres that are far superior to the original Michelins. With 286hp pushing a little over 1,500kg it isn't in the same league as a modern super saloon but the flip side is that most people are staggered how fast something that looks like a taxi can cover ground. The driving position is good, the wheel a little too far away, so you bring the seat close and push the long-travel throttle right into the footwell. It sounds good at idle, then builds and builds and then above 5,000rpm it makes the classic, yelping, M straight-six noise.

Cooling system and timing chain among work
Cooling system and timing chain among work
The locking differential and slow steering mean it's a honey to move around in the wet, the ride is supple, the air-con is almost too powerful. In fact the thing that really dates the car is all the wind noise from the windscreen rubbers and general guttering. It'll do the claimed 147mph and the 15.6 seconds - I've confirmed both - but it sounds like you're driving an Ariel Atom above 120mph.

Meanwhile, in the real world
I have no idea what the car's worth now, nor in fact can I find any confirmation of what I paid for it in 2006. I know it was between £9.5K and £10K. It's the best value car I've ever bought because it genuinely is a dream purchase for me - a machine I lusted after as a child and never believed I would one day own, something steeped in significance and specialness. Everything else in that bracket is now six figures. These are still well under £20K.

M5 unusually hard to rouse from hibernation
M5 unusually hard to rouse from hibernation
Back in 2007 I had the cooling system replaced, including a new BMW radiator, and a new clutch at the same time. Dick Lovett BMW in Bristol did the work, and it wasn't that much more expensive than using an independent. The engine itself has only covered 7,000 miles since the timing chain was done - that's about the extent of the service history!

As for the present, things aren't quite as rosy. I didn't use the car last year, and always being accustomed to leaving it for months and having it rumble into life on the key, two weeks ago it refused to start. It might be the ECU. Anyways, I'm about to take it somewhere for a bit of a birthday, so if anyone has strong feelings as to who the best people for an E28 M5 are, please share the information.


FACT SHEET
Car
: 1986 BMW M5
Run by: Chris Harris
Bought: August 2006
Mileage: 131,000
Purchase price: £9,500 ... possibly
Last month at a glance: Attempted rouse from slumber, with no sign of life. Off for some TLC!

 

Chris Harris
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Author Discussion

MagicalTrevor

Original Poster:

5,388 posts

115 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Awesome, love it. Cheers

The Crack Fox

9,974 posts

78 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
10/10, a car far removed from today's emotionless M-machines, something hand-spannered by oily krauts and sold in small numbers to nutters who appreciate something special.

Harris, more of this, please smile

Mr. Potato Head

979 posts

105 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Article said:
facial hair
Facial hair blog next please

E30M3SE

7,715 posts

82 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
article said:
This was replaced by the king of bork, otherwise know as the E34 M5 Touring, which was marginally less expensive to run than Concorde.
Classic line....

laugh

Big Six

37 posts

33 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Disconnect the ABS ECU above the main ECU in the glove box before trying to jump it.

Not shore where you are based but to be on the safe side I would send it to Munich legends http://www.munichlegends.co.uk/ or http://www.classicheroes.co.uk/default

You might try removing & then reinstalling all the fuses & replays in the engine bay. Just sounds like you have a bad contact.
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LHD

16,799 posts

73 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
The E28 M5.

Awesome MacAwesome from Awesomeshire.

If i can suggest Phil Crouch at CPC Engineering for all bork related issues as the man is a magician.

s m

10,443 posts

89 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Remember buying CAR mag of mid 87 and re-reading the track and road test several times. Also the great Phil Llewellyn article about his Welsh cross country trip to take his son back to uni in one

Looks a fun car to have in the garage Chris smile

Big Six

37 posts

33 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
The e28 M5 was also my dream car. I couldn't part with my M528i so I built my own e28 M5 by using the the more powerful engine from the e34 M5 smile

Fitted Aston Martin Vanquish S brakes too smile

My build thread. http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/e28-m5-discussion...

The spec so far:- S38B36 Powered - Rebuilt Getrag 280 With Late Model Spec Vent Pipe & Show Standard Casing, Modified Brass Selector Arms, Custom braided Clutch Hose - 3:45 Medium Case Diff, 40% LSD, E28 M5 Diff Rubber, Poly Bushed Rear Axle, E28 M5 Trailing Arms, Whiteline ARB's - Fritz Six Branch - 380mm Aston Martin Vanquish S (Upgrade) Front Disks & 6 Piston Calipers, Rear 360mm AP Racing Vanquish S 4 Piston Calipers, 750i Master Cylinder, Goodridge Braided Brake Lines, 4 x New Wheel Bearings & ABS Sensors, New Brake Bar Pivot On Bulkhead, Braided Oil Cooler Lines, Racing Dynamics Carbon Fibre intake, 4.5kg Billet Flywheel, E34 M5 Heavy Duty Sachs Sports Clutch, Short shift, Custom 5 Core Radiator, Kenlow Twin Speed Turbo Fan, E28 M5 Electric Seats, Battery Tray, Boot Carpet Set, Instrument Cluster, E30 M3 Sport Evo Rear View Mirror, Fully Working Cruise Control & Airbox, Powerchiped - Top Speed Limiter Removed smile E28 Alpina B10 Long Range Fuel Tank, New Lift Pump, New BMW Fuel Tank, New Headlamp - Wind Screen Washer Tank, New e34 M5 Expansion Tank, 8.5" x 19" & 9.5" x 19" Hartge Design E 3 Piece Split Rims, 225/35/19's & 265/30/19's Michelin Pilot Super Sports + Track Wheels, 265/35/18 Rear, 235/40/18 Front, Pirelli P-Zero Rosso's, Hartge Front Strut Brace, Custom Built Rear Strut Brace, Hartge H5S Rear Spoiler, Alpina Aux Gauge Set with Digital Oil Temp, Oil Pressure & Differential Temp, Modified Diff Casing For Temp Sensor & Extra Large Cooling Fins Added, Custom Bilstein Blue Hartge Spec Springs ( Ride height optimised for 19" wheels) All Wheel Arches Rolled, New BMW Spring Pads Front & Rear, New BMW E28 M5 Offset Front Top Mounts, E34 M5 Aluminium Control Arms etc etc etc......

Edited by Big Six on Tuesday 17th April 16:19

PPPPPP

1,068 posts

117 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Pukka car. Enjoyed driving that more at the 'Ring than my top of the range Alpina 5 series that competed with the E28 M5 at the time. The Alpina, IMO, was a better road car.


sennastyl

23 posts

82 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Reading this has really tempted me to open the garage and get my dad's e28 M535i back on the road. It's a one owner, he bought it in '85, with 50K and pretty darn close to immaculate!! It was the car that started my love affair with BMW the moment I saw the porter pull it up outside Park Lane BMW that summer. M Gmbh, it seems, has lost touch with their own product as of late. 1 Series M being the savior.

Vocal Minority

3,817 posts

38 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
I don't know why, maybe I am getting more mature about cars, I neve used to care for BMWs of any ilk. Modern ones still do nothing for me - and I do not know why my peer group lust after the 3 series so.

But old ones have recently started becoming the knees of the bee to me. This type of M5 (along with the 6 series) is the nuttiest of the mutts nutts IMHO.

Six Fiend

5,557 posts

101 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Lovely lovely lovely smile

Anyhoo,

PHers in Bristol seem to hail http://www.forzawest.com/ as one of the best palces to go.

rallycross

5,875 posts

123 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Very nice - a proper super saloon, love the fact it looks so slim compared to todays big saloons.

Might be worth talking to the guys at Tecnosport at Staples Corner if you plan getting some work done;

http://www.technosport.co.uk/index.html

These guys know their M stuff and they wont give you a bigger bill than need be (unlike some previously mentioned M specialists where M stands for More Money).

Output Flange

14,448 posts

97 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
If you want free advice on how to fix it yourself, contact Jam172 on forum.bmw5.co.uk - he's had most of the 187 UK cars at one time or another!

Top tip for the E28 M5 - don't buy one unseen. Or if you do, don't be surprised when you discover it needs the thick end of £12k of work to pass an MOT. Guess how I found that out... hehe

There is something that's just so right about the E28 shape, though. I'd love another M5, but out of the 187 that started out in the UK, a fair chunk have been put into ditches and are now the coke can in front of you, and more recently they seem to be disappearing to Europe and the Far East at a rate of knots.

Having just picked up this, er, little beauty(?) my intention is to home-brew it into something on a par for performance with the M5, but using more modern components wherever possible.

Warning! Gratuitous photo:

Mmmmm, E28.....


Bash Brannigan

204 posts

73 months

[news] 
Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Vocal Minority said:
I don't know why, maybe I am getting more mature about cars, I neve used to care for BMWs of any ilk. Modern ones still do nothing for me - and I do not know why my peer group lust after the 3 series so.

But old ones have recently started becoming the knees of the bee to me. This type of M5 (along with the 6 series) is the nuttiest of the mutts nutts IMHO.
Have you driven a modern 320d? This might sound completely retarded if you haven't, but they're such good fun to thrash that it's made me lust after a higher power/focus version as an everyday car. There's obviously no chance of oversteer, it's not what would be called fast and the run flats are mind bogglingly irritating, but if you drive one then you'll get why even the poverty spec is such a popular car.

Is the E34 M5 famously expensive to run or did CH just have bad luck? They seem like a real bargain at the moment...

Output Flange

14,448 posts

97 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
Bash Brannigan said:
Is the E34 M5 famously expensive to run or did CH just have bad luck? They seem like a real bargain at the moment...
If you ask that question in the right circles, you'll see grown men looking whistfully into the middle distance as they remember the days before the E34 when their bank accounts contained actual money.

Frik

12,507 posts

129 months

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Tuesday 17th April 2012 quote quote all
The story that is brought to mind is of an acquaintance that used to have an E28 M5. He was tooling around near Longcross, having a play with a few bikers and stopped for a breather by their favourite roundabout (just up from Surrey Rolling Road, when it didn't have the interfering barriers it has now).

One of the bikers happened to say: "Nice car. Bet you can't do two laps of the roundabout sideways". Needless to say this chap got in, drove off to turn round, came back, threw it onto the roundabout and executed two complete laps on the lockstops before pulling over and saying "How's that?". I believe it got a round of applause from the assembled bikers.

uncle tez

447 posts

37 months

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I know it's childish and as a 29 year old man I shouldn't do it but I still find it difficult to not snigger when I hear of Dick Lovett.

BigTom85

980 posts

57 months

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I really want to like this, but for some reason I'm left feeling a little cold. Perhaps I'm a little to young (27) to appreciate these things?

I'm sure a brief stint behind the wheel of one would up my score from a 7...

Look forward to the stories behind the rest of the fleet Chris. smile

olly22n

13,784 posts

92 months

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cloud9
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