5k: 1988 BMW M5 E28; Rare
The E28 M5 was the first generation of BMW’s world changing rocket-ship sedan. The M5 did to the 4-door sedan what the Pontiac GTO did for the 2-door sedan – set up a devastating formula for others to follow. The E28 M5 (only available stateside in 1988) packed the engine taken from the M1 supercar into a luxury sedan and changed the world (for the better) – you can thank the 88 M5 for every AMG, M sedan, ISF, SHO etc. This 1988 BMW M5 is for sale in Youngstown, OH for the bargain basement price of $3800 via craigslist.
The E28 M5 isn’t much cosmetically different from the standard 535i sedan – just a small rear wing spoiler and an M5 badge distinguish it. Just over 2000 E28 M5s were built for the US Market – all of them Schwarz (black) exterior and Natur (tan) interior with just about every option available; full leather interior, A/C, power windows, power doors, etc.
The e28 M5 is equipped with the S38 B35 catalyst equipped 3.5 liter inline 6 putting out 256 horsepower – enough to make the M5 the fastest sedan ever built when it was new. The S38 was a detuned version of the BMW M1 supercar engine (mated to the 535’s 5-spd manual trans and standard limited slip diff), and compared to everything else sold in 1988 it was very fast.
Inside this M5 still looks nice – e28s were built well and there are enough 535i models that you can get spare parts easily – new or used. This ad doesn’t have particularly good photos, but the seller has enthusiastically shampoo’d/vacuumed the carpets within minutes of taking the pics, so at least it shows better willing to spend 5 minutes preparing to create the ad (much better than yesterday’s CamEro). The e28 M5 is indeed a rare beast over here – with something like 1200 sold in the USA, so this one is priced extremely low – pick this one up for about the cost of a used M5 engine…not bad.
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The original, the S38 is not as hard to maintain as some would have you believe, but I would make sure that you get maintenance records. Also these don't like to sit, so I would be a little wary if what he meant in the ad, is that it has sat in the garage for 2 years.
Overall it looks good in the pics, but I would want to see it in person, as a rebuild on the S38 can easily run into the high $, even if you can do all the work, w/o you doing the work, it runs into $10k.
All being said, a good deal for an enthusiast who can turn their own wrenches and who loves a thrill.
On one hand, it's a salvage title vehicle with some needs. And these are not cheap cars to put right – especially if that S38 motor needs attention. On the other hand, it's got to be the lowest priced E28 M5 on the planet at $3800.
Photos and description don't tell us much (such as mileage, what was damaged, remaining work needed), so I agree with James – this absolutely requires a thorough in-person inspection from a knowledgeable buyer. There's a lot of question marks here though, because usually the term "good $3800 E28 M5" is an oxymoron.