If that doesn't sound like the sort of M5 that floats your boat, I wouldn't blame you. In fact, I might well join you in having a poke around the classifieds for some that might.
A good place to start is at the beginning. So we'll do just that, and instantly I'm having to calm my trembling fingers as I write this, for this £38,500 example of an E28 M5 we have in the classifieds at the moment looks to be an absolute peach. Look at the shine on that black paintwork; note the tidy-looking interior in a very tasteful contrasting beige leather; feel the warm feeling the careful description gives you. In short, were I anywhere near being able to afford an E28, the chances are I'd be finding something else to write this column about right now and picking up the phone to the vendor.
The big rises in the last couple of years have come from the E28's successor. There was a time not too long ago when the E34 was the poor relation of the 5 Series family, when a good one could be yours for less than ten grand. But no more. Buyers are growing more attracted to the super-stealthy looks, not to mention the E34's status as the last M5 to feature a screaming six with its roots in the BMW M1 supercar's, and the result is that prices are on the rise. That said, there are some overpriced examples out there; this one for example, looks steep for a car with this sort of mileage at £32,995. I'd be much more excited by this one if it hadn't already sold at auction last month for a shade over £13,000 - a rare special edition with only 20k more on the clock and a solid history, for less than half the price. Of course, if you're really feeling flush, there's an extremely rare E34 M5 Touring for sale at the moment for a fiver under £50,000 - very, very pricey, but where will you find another?
With all that in mind - as well as the barking prices of some of the cooking-spec E39s I've seen out there - I'm surprised the starting price for an E39 M5 isn't higher. Take this example which, as I write this, is the cheapest in our classifieds, and yet looks like a perfectly serviceable M5 with a full history and a reasonable mileage. At £7,295 it's a bargain in my book, even after you've spent a grand or so getting the rust bubbles taken care of. Or if you fancy something a little tidier to start off with, how about this utterly gorgeous Carbon Black example? The mileage isn't really any lower, but it is claimed to be rust-free and has had a recent VANOS rebuild, which is an obvious benefit.
this one with a tonne of options on it, yours for £13,950. But the best is yet to come, for you don't have to pay much more again to get a hold of one with low miles - £15,995, the cost of this 84k example, is actually quite a bit less than you'd have to stump up to get an E39 of similar mileage.
Of course, part of the reason for such low prices is the rather ruinous combination of... let's say 'questionable' reliability and high maintenance and repair costs. E60 M5s are notoriously expensive to keep going, so think carefully before you take the plunge. Perhaps the mechanically simpler E39 isn't such a bad idea after all.
What if you want something more modern, though? Well, you can probably tell where I'm heading next. Yes, it's the F10 M5 - a car which doesn't quite float my boat as much as the others here, lacking as it does the intensity of earlier iterations. But few people really care what I think, and rightly so; the F10 has its fans, and if you're one of them, you'll be glad to know prices for these are on the wane too.
This one looks about right - though I'd find this slightly leggy Competition Pack example for just a couple of grand more pretty tempting too.
The question is, which would you choose? For me, the modernity and crushing ability of the F10 undoubtedly has its appeal, but... nah. I'd find the E60 tempting, simply for the fact that it must be the cheapest way to get behind the wheel of a V10. My first love among M5s has always been the E39, mind you, and with prices as they are it might be my last chance. And then there's the E34, which is only looking better and better as time goes by.
Despite all this, though, I still find myself looking back at that first advert for the gorgeous E28. Black over cream, with good mileage and a recent restoration? I'll take three.