The original M-powered saloon, the E28 M5…

BMW M5 is a name anyone interested in performance cars will be familiar with. But with modern versions packing big power V8 and V10 engines, the earlier models have become a little forgotten about, despite being even more ground breaking than the newer versions.

The first M5 appeared in 1985 and became the fastest production saloon car in the world with a top speed of 153mph, around 30mph more than most production hot hatches of the time. Just like all ‘M’ BMWs, the engine was something special – the M88 lump; a race engine used by BMW M1 race cars, simply de-tuned for road use. In race form the normally aspirated unit produced almost 500bhp, and when turbocharged for the Group 5 race cars it made around 900bhp. So you can see the huge tuning potential that people are still exploiting to this very day.

E28 BMW M5 road test

As a good example of this, German tuners Hartge made a lightly tuned version with an uprated exhaust system, cams, and a remapped ECU. The power immediately jumped to a similar level of later M5s of the early ’90s with the larger 3.8ltr engine. Although 286bhp may not seem a huge amount in modern terms, with no traction control and relatively skinny 225 wide rear tyres, driving one hard takes real skill and the final result is a car that can out-perform a lot of more modern sports cars.

The E28 M5 is one of the rarest M-cars made, with just over 2000 made in the three years they were on sale, but the huge impact they made on the performance car market meant that the BMW M5 continues to be made to the present day.

E28 BMW M5 (1985-1988)
Engine: 3.5-litre 24v straight six
Power: 286bhp
Torque: 251lb-ft
0-60: 6.2secs
Top Speed: 153mph
Weight: 1550kg