E28 M5— with tidy Euro bumpers

Completely transforms the look of the car. Damned if we don’t still want one— just as it’s seen here, with black interior and not a chrome trim piece in sight.

We will continue to hold out hope for one (meaning a Euro or Euro-converted E28 M5) someday, however slight those chances.

To leave off, we’ll share an entertaining excerpt from a paean to the E28 M5 that originally appeared on the enthusiast forum MyE28.com. It’s been making the rounds in classic Bimmer-loving circles for a few years now, so some of you may have undoubtedly already come across it.

…but why? Why care at all about these 20 year-old boxy, out dated cars?

First of all, they’re better looking than you think they are. It’s obvious that their shape is in a different category than the ubiquitous, Chris Bangle inspired, rounded automobiles that the wind tunnels and friction coefficients have bent almost everything on four wheels into over the last 15 years. (Although there is starting to be a backlash, see the new Mustang and Charger). But different how? As far as I can tell the shape of the e28 emerged in the mid-seventies and its design language is rooted firmly in the Bauhaus where bold clear geometry was intended to convey strength and integrity. However the E28s save themselves from being Volvo 240s or Mercedes 300s by Marcello Gabrilini’s brilliant slight swoop of the hood and that quirky, vaguely menacing backslash of the front grill. They are not quite graceful but not dull either and the tension between the box of the back end and the slant of the front is continually interesting.

Beyond looks there is balance. Again, the motor isn’t that big, the tires aren’t that wide, the car isn’t that quick, the interior is that lux, however, like good wine, skillful diplomacy or a healthy marriage, this endeavor keeps its elements in balance. In a distinctly West German way I find that the motor, suspension, brakes and driver environment work together in harmony in the e28 M5, something like the tannins, oak, alcohol and grape work together in well executed wine. Therefore every drive, like every sip is a potential joy. Every time I’m in the car, particularly after being in new cars in it’s class (there are no older ones) I’m struck by how well all the systems dance together, how tight the car feels and how even for me, a guy who has been living in Manhattan and hasn’t driven regularly for 8 years, the car is cleanly responsive to my instructions.

Finally there is great pleasure to be taken in the age of these cars. 20 years is a long, long time for a complex machine to run in harsh environment and anyone who has an old complex machine that is running well knows that only a magical mix of luck, and the focused labor or dozens of men working dozens hours has made the experience possible. Every experience in an old car is refracted through this luck and labor and is richer because of it.

I didn’t really know any of this a month ago when I decided to get the car, though I intuited that I wanted off the shinny new car trail in on something different, preferable made by tight-lipped West Germans, preferably with soul, preferably something my employees would walk past in the parking lot that would make them more curious than irate.

And so I found the car on-line, made sure it was what it was said it was, bought it and flew to San Francisco to pick it up and take it back East. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it initially but got my first hint of the future a day later on I-80 coming East out of Sacramento across the floor of the Central Valley just before dawn.

There were just a few cars on a butter smooth road and the cruise control was set to 80 when some kid in a Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX came up weaving up traffic and ended up in front of me. He and the car in the right lane were running even at about ninety, no one in front of them. Hmmmm. I and put the M5 in the left lane crept up on that GSX in 5th gear until I was 10 feet off his bumper. Then I did what I like to think the white-coated, short-haired, bespeckled, clip-board carrying Hun who created my machine wanted me to do – I gave that GSX a long steady flash of my brights. GSX did just what I expected, he accelerated, moved over to the right hand lane and kept accelerating. I gave him a few seconds to declare himself and then I dropped into 4th and the 20 year old car pulled across 4500 to 6500 RPM, joyfully howling like a turbo jet, lunging forward until I put her in fifth and kept going until I was locked at 140 mph, the GSX disappearing in the rearview mirror as I hurled across the waking Central Valley into the riot of the coming sun.

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~ by motoringconbrio on April 13, 2012.

12 Responses to “E28 M5— with tidy Euro bumpers”

  1. Effing love that little missive. Totally nails what the E28 M5 is.

    And as far as the Euro, well… this is one of those few times, like open or closed Alpinas, where you and I differ slightly. I know the Euro bumpers are “cleaner” and it does give it a wholly different look, but I LOVE my big bumpers. They make it look even longer and lower, and even more 80s. Just my opinion though, and I certainly respect and understand the desire for the Euro look. That said, I can’t ever see hacking into an M5, so get a true Euro one ;-)

  2. Very well written essay. Excellent.

  3. I seriously got chills reading that last sentence.

  4. I Agree with Nater, I like the USA-pec bumpers more. Though not only the bumpers itself are different, the complete front(spoiler) under the frontbumper is different on the euro E28 M5…

    Nevertheless: nice post!

  5. I want one so bad :( There was a showroom model at goodwood fake auto show last year. It was new with less than 150km. I made curious noises looking at it.

    • haha, julien. for anyone who has ever looked at something and desired it insatiably (about 99% of visitors to this blog, i imagine), i’m sure those ‘curious noises’ are perfectly relatable ;)

  6. E39 M5> E34 M5> E28 M5 ;)

  7. Here’s the whole thread where this originated: http://www.mye28.com/viewtopic.php?t=70689

    Has some other bits worth reading

  8. All E28’s in general are BMW’s original bad boy’s. They are expected to go 400k miles if cared for, and they do. A 250k mile E28 is generally considered “well broken in”.

    With modern tires and a fresh suspension along with a good chip They do well on the track, in autocross and terrorizing the Tail of the Dragon. Surprising many newer cars in the process.

    Yet, going down the Interstate at 80mph the engine settles into it’s turbine smooth hum, the suspension soaks up the bumps and the perfect cruise control devours the miles while your comfited in rolled and pleated leather seats, enjoying the view the amazing visability the car offers

    The flag ship M5 is worth the price of admission if for nothing else but the sound of the engine when on cam . I think the the fore mentiond lack of sound deadening was done on purpose. I guess some might prefer the piped in engine sounds of the new M5’s for some reason.

    BMW E28’s are drivers cars, you ARE connected to the road, the engine and every other mechanical part that matters. There are few cars that fit a driving enthusiast better.

    It seems anyone who ones one, has to buy another and another!

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