The BMW M5: there have been four renditions of it dating back to 1986. The original idea behind it was simple – take a mid-size sedan, add some sport tuned suspension, brakes and one hammer of a motor.
E28 M5: 1986-1988
This is exactly what BMW did back in 1986 with the original E28 M5. Using an evolved version of the BMW M1 inline-6, BMW tweaked and massaged it to generated 286 hp / 256 lb-tq. For 1986 this car was very quick, with a top speed of 147 mph. The beauty of the first M5 was it’s shape, as BMW utilized the existing 535i body, which to this day is still a looker from any angle.
E34 M5: 1989-1995
Generation 2 came with the 1989 release of the E34. This is either a love it or hate it body style because of its brick like shape. U.S. versions came equipped with the 3.6 liter inline-6 punching out 315 hp / 311 lb-tq. with a top speed limited to that of 155 mph. One major issue with the E34 M5 were its less than stellar wheels. At first glance, it actually looked as though the car came from the factory with white walls and hubcaps – it was terrible. In reality however, these wheels were fully functional and were designed to redirect airflow over the brakes for improved cooling. Later models got the Gen II 5-star wheels that were a big improvement over the originals.
E39 M5: 1998-2003
Man oh man, do I have a soft spot for these guys… why you might ask? Well, I had one and man was it a fun ride (note the license plate). With 394 hp / 400 lb-tq., through a 6-speed gearbox, this car was a hammer. Hell, even now, 12 years after its introduction this M5 is still regarded as being one of the best super sedans ever produced and is favored by many to the E60 M5, its fatter chunkier, younger brother. On a side note and if you were really sneaky, you could remove the speed limiter – do this and the E39 would hit a top end of 187 mph… not bad for a 4-door sedan. What made this car so great was its simplicity and the fact that it went back to the roots of the original. Midsize sedan, great brakes, suspension and a big honkin’ engine. It was also the subject of a bitchen’ 9-minute film by Guy Ritchie that was commissioned by BMW to showcase the car. You can watch that below.
E60 M5: 2006-2010
Say hello to Chub-Chub. Yes, it has a V10 with 505 hp, yes it has bigger brakes and better suspension and yes, it also has the worst computer system thats ever been integrated into an automobile; the i-drive. With no less than 46,000 settings the i-drive was and is, the most aggravating part of an otherwise very nice car. I say very nice because to me, that’s all it will ever be. When introduced in 2006 we saw a drastic weight gain and a bulbous shape that did not lend itself to the sporty image that it’s older M5 brethren had come to be known for. Now please don’t get me wrong, from a performance standpoint the E60 is epic. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, quarter mile in 12.6 at 115 mph and an uncorked top end of almost 200 mph – these are serious numbers for any car. I just can’t get over that chubby-chub body.
So there you have it, 20 years of BMWs M5 super sedan. Now, there are rumors on the horizon that a new twin-turbo V8 M5 is on its way. Lets just hope that the higher ups at BMW read this and put the ole’ girl on a diet. Do that, go back to basics and you’ll have shot new life into the icon that you guys originally created.