In Praise of the Original Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing…

We here at Rs2 love BMW’s  e28 platform, specifically the warrior cladded w/ M5 or M535i badges.

This is the car that started it all. The original, or Ur of super saloons .

Sure the Mercedes Cossie was the first 4 door homologation car to rule the DTM series , but as good as it handled, it was for the most part rather anemic. Even when the Evo II version rolled out it  still paled  in comparison to the blitzkrieg animal-like power of the S38 b35 equipped M car.

Never has such a magnificent motor been shoe-horned into a production vehicle, and only a few since then have matched the sonorous shriek of its ITB’s (  individual throttle bodies ) at full song !

So fast forward a bit…and the reason for this article …a  few years ago I made a terrible mistake.

I was blessed with a well- sorted, modestly restored e34 M5. It shared the garage with my 1993 Audi S4 that had a built motor. The M5 had 330hp the Audi about 425…Life was good !

But in due time we all, or at least I do, occasionally lapse into moments of stupidity and superficial lust… so I sold it !

Yes, I’m a fool bar none. I’ve bought and sold more cars than I can count in my 48 years, most of them went off into the sunset and I never felt more than a days hole in my heart, but that car  left a void.

You see I’m an enthusiast that’s stuck on German cars from the 80’s and 90’s. Its a rather prolific period for Porsche, BMW,Mercedes Benz and Audi. Lots of handmade cars in each manufacturers skunk works plant like AMG, Audi gmbh, and Garching’s M sport division. This was an era when the world was good. Wall Street and Silicone Valley were in full swing and life was good. The cars reflected this era.

So its been over a year of on and off  searching and I’ve yet to find an e34 that fits my criteria of price and pedigree.

With the recommendation of an online aquaintance I started looking at its older brother the E28 M5. Its a car I’ve always acknowledged but never really even had on my cue.

For some inexplicable reason other than having already had a 87 535is , I somehow in the back of my mind always said ..” really ? how much better can it be ? ”

Well according to  a few friends that have had an e28 M5 and a few that still do…you haven’t live a true car life until you’ve owned one seems to be the common praise .

So I tweaked my search  and started spending more time on Craigslist and the, a board of purists and pirates ! my kinda forum.

After 2 test drives of some so- so examples  I decided to keep the faith and meet with the owner of one  in New Jersey that’s got full records and a decade of current ownership and priced rather well. All the criteria that makes one warm and fuzzy inside.

We agreed to meet at Prestige Mercedes Benz in Paramus.

4 hours later I pull into the dealership lot, and amongst the  sea of shiny new Benz’s I spot her !

Holy schnikey’s…I’m immediately struck by how low and mean the front profile looks , very shark like. I am also  blown away how it sticks out like an Olympic athlete  amongst the  sea of brand new but rather pedestrian MB’s dressed in rather homegenous casual attire in comparison to the M . She looks the business indeed !

I try to contain my adrenalin and put on my best Vegas poker face, which in all honesty just sucks. I’m a geek.

My eyes were drawn into its muscular yet simple lines. Its a purpose built Bavarian if there ever was one.

Clad in 16×8 BBS mesh period wheels that tuck nicely into its humble wheel arches ,  its only true hint of what its capable of is the subtle trunk spoiler and perhaps its front chin valance which for the 1980’s Gordon Gecko era was rather aggro.

After some nice small talk with Chris the current owner/caretaker, he hands me the keys and we’re off.

With just the slightest twist of the key she fires up to that cacophonous snarl that I know oh so well but slightly different than my 91 M… ! Chris blurbs out as if to apologize for the rather loud lumpy idle…”oh yeah, its got a new starter and alternator ” – schwing !! Another thing he mentions again rather apologetically  …” oh by the way…it doesn’t have cats either  ! ”  ..please don’t wake me up if I’m dreaming. I strike the biggest smile on my stupid face…oh shame…but I guess I can live with that.

Since he drove about 45 mins as well, there was no need to warm her up , which is mission critical for the life of these high strung race motors…and yes , they are race motors, just detuned a tad. With one blip of the throttle we were off and I knew right then and there my reasons for wanting another M5 were validated and then some.

A few annoying neighborhood maneuvers  here and there and I’m finally on the  ramp to get back onto Rt 17 .

I promptly give her a shove and once the s38  hits 4K – bam ! I hit 6500 -in less than a flinch I grab 2nd and rowing into 3rd its handcuff speed. It makes no apologies and gives no quarter the minute the road gets crooked and bends come into play.

Man is she tight. The troublesome SLS has been ditched for a standard Bilstein Sports + Dinan sport spring setup. It feels like a light car. 3200 lbs and change now that the heavy stock exhaust is gone, and after a steady diet of 4K lb cars…its like taking a junkyard dog with rabies out for a walk . Nuts I tell you. Your eye  thinks fast right…its already there. Noice !

My friend Paul Krasusky ( former e28 M5 owner ) haiku’d to me once after driving my e34 M5 spiritedly …your M is like Michael Jordan..poised,  fast, but with amazing grace and fluidity….the e28 M5 is like a young Mike Tyson in his prime…raw, in your face , lethally lithe and ready for a backalley brawl anytime…ears are optional.

Its got a high mileage 200k chassis but got a donor low mileage 70k motor from an e24 M6 a few years ago…and besides my e34 m5 had a ton of miles and drove every bit as tight as any other well sorted M5 I’ve driven. These cars age well .

With its Jim Conforti chip, and Fahey track pipe it should be hovering at the 305hp mark and it feels like its got all of that. More if one adds the Euro 3.8 exhaust cam gear which I did on my 91.

Lots of maintenance and love from Chris and Bimmers Only of Westchester NY. Valve adjustments at 20K intervals and just last year had a full rehab of the expensive kind, so other than some spots of rust that need attention, its the right one for me. Far from a show queen, yet still presentable to your clan where drooling can still be induced.

I wanted an M5 that I can rip on and take to Lime Rock and the Glen without feeling overly careful…this one I can actually drive like its meant to be driven.

So our agreed delivery date is this next Saturday the 18th. In the meantime, I can’t focus on anything work related. My taxes need to go out today yet here I am blabbing on about this car. Stay tuned for more updates.

I don’t really have good pics of mine, so I attached these that were in my files. Pics once its detailed and primped.

My former e34 M5 in its final evolution.

Euro M535is at Lime Rock Vintage Festival


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