BMW M5: You know you want to...

The recent PH Heroes article on the E28 M5 has got us a bit dribbly over BMW's original large M division offering, with the inevitable result that we've been cruising the classifieds to see what the old girls are going for these days.

Turns out that they're not going very often - the only E28 M5 we spotted was a lonely Lachs Silver example going for £10,995 in our very own PH classifieds (right).

A fairly obvious reason for this that the original M5 never was particularly numerous in the first place - barely more than 2000 were produced between 1985 and 1988, and we're told that only 187 of them found their way to the UK.

This one looks to be a nice enough example, but we'd rather sit tight and wait for one without the optional bodykit - makes it look a little dated and too much like its M535i little brother for our tastes.

Of course, £10,995 can also buy you the 114bhp stronger 400bhp V8 E39 M5. We found this E39 for sale by the same dealer with the E28 M5 - and if you can ignore the pretty painful combo of 'violet blue heritage' leather and wood trim it seems like quite a tidy car for its 64k miles.

It's also pretty indicative of where the market is for E39s, it seems. Leggy pre-facelift cars are going for £8k or £9k, while around £16k ought to bag you a late, low-mileage example with little more than 40,000 miles under its wheels.

It's all mighty tempting, but a quick phone call to the folks at BMW specialists Munich Legends did highlight a few things to be wary of. There are a few issues with the engine's electrics, for starters, particularly camshaft position sensors. Air flow meters are also weak points, apparently, as are Vanos units.

Suspension bushes and ball joints also wear out quickly (a tell-tale sign of which is uneven tyre wear). High-mileage cars can also suffer from differential oil leaks, so check for wear on the clutch and flywheel.

Frankly it all sounds a bit scary, but Munich Legends reckons that provided they're properly maintained - and, crucially, have always been properly looked after - the big V8 bruiser should make a brilliant all-rounder. Do let us know what you think...

Meanwhile - should you manage to find one - an M5 can be had from as little as £3k-4k. This will be ropey though, so you're probably better off looking out for a tidier one for around £11k (just like the one on PH, in fact).

E28s are a simpler proposition than later M5s, however. Even though the engine is hand-built, the car's basic layout is pretty similar to its common or garden brethren, so it's actually surprisingly easy to maintain.

The dreaded iron oxide is a danger, says Munich Legends, and the E28 is notoriously under-braked, so watch out for warped discs. Also look out for vibrations in the steering, possibly caused by road wear and - again - worn suspension components. Weirdly, the only other major downside is that interior trim parts can be hard to get hold of. And, of course, finding a car in the first place...

Comments (84) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sc4589 21 Jul 2010

    Useful. If only I could insure one.

    Putting the E39 on my list to Santa...

  • hornetrider 21 Jul 2010

    Excellent subliminal advertising there.

    On an entirely unrelated note, I'm off to check the Munich Legends website.

  • Great Pretender 21 Jul 2010

    Give me a moment to prepare...

  • Mr E 21 Jul 2010

    I would dearly love to replace the Alfa with an E39 M5. I suspect it's a modern classic in a way that the E60 will never be.

    Running costs are putting me off.

  • davido140 21 Jul 2010

    hornetrider said:
    Excellent subliminal advertising there.

    On an entirely unrelated note, I'm off to check the Munich Legends website.
    Didnt work on me...

    got to go, I've booked a last minute holiday to Munich.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment