BMW M5: a history

BMW’s iconic super saloon is 30 years old. We take a look back at the history of the BMW M5

The BMW M5 is celebrating 30 years of helping top executives get home quicker than is strictly necessary. The new 592bhp M5 ‘30 Jahre’ edition has been revealed to mark the anniversary and it’s a car with a glittering heritage stretching out in its rear view mirror. Let’s take a look back at the history of the BMW M5…

BMW M535i (1979-1981)

It’s not an M5 but the E12 M535i packed a lot of the DNA that would lead BMW to unleash the first proper 5 Series M-car a few years later. Power came from a 3.5-litre straight-six with 218bhp on tap. A close-ratio gearbox and upgraded brakes were also fitted, along with the essential BMW Motorsport spoilers. 

BMW M5: E28 (1985-1988)

The M5 brand was born in auspicious style as the hot version of the E28 5 Series took its bow at the 1984 Amsterdam Motor Show to wild speculation over what exactly BMW had been smoking.

With a version of the 3.5-litre straight six engine from the M1 supercar, the M5 offered 282bhp of thrust. As a result, a 153mph top speed and a 0-60mph sprint of 6.5s were on the agenda. Only 2,191 units were built, making this one of the rarest BMW Motorsport models to date. 

BMW M5: E34 (1989-1995)

The E34 M5 upped the super saloon ante yet again when it arrived in 1989. This was the last hand-built M car and a left-hand-drive Touring version in 1992 was the M Division’s first estate car.

The six-cylinder engine offered 311bhp in its initial form. In 1991 the unit’s displacement was increased from 3.6 to 3.8 litres and power rose to 335bhp; BMW’s horsepower arms race with Mercedes was well underway. Top speed for the 3.8-litre car was 177mph with 0-60mph performances of 5.7s possible in the manual models.

BMW M5: E39 (1998 – 2003)

BMW’s range was an M5-free zone for three years but that changed in 1998 when the E39 version brought the famous nameplate back with a 394bhp bang. The aluminium suspension of the standard 5 Series was upgraded with firmer shocks while beefy anti-roll bars helped the M5 pull big cornering forces.  

Power was now courtesy of a V8 unit that could take the M5 to 60mph in 4.8s then on to lock horns with its speed limiter at 155mph. De-restricted versions of the E39 are capable of 186mph.     

BMW M5: E60 (2005-2010)

The E60 M5 went for a V10. Needs must when you’re embroiled in a Cold War style bhp battle with a certain rival from Stuttgart. The amazing high-revving 500bhp powerplant mated to a 7-speed sequential manual gearbox proved that BMW wasn’t about to blink first.

The 0-60mph sprint takes 4.7s in an E60 M5 and if the limiter is removed, a top speed of over 200mph is a realistic possibility. The E60 M5 Touring was the first M5 estate to be sold in the UK through official channels. 

BMW M5: F10 (2011-date)

The 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show lifted the lid on the F10 M5 with BMW citing the need to improve fuel economy as a key reason for the switch to a 560bhp twin-turbo V8 – a sign of the times.

The F10 can hit 60mph in a supercar-scaring 3.6s and the limited 155mph top speed could be increased to 190mph with the optional M Drivers Package. The Competition Package launched in 2014 offered a more focused suspension set-up and power increased to 575bhp. The latest M5 ‘30 Jahre’ edition takes the car’s output up to 592bhp, a fitting way to celebrate 30 years of the M5. 

Which is your favourite BMW M5? Let us know in the comments section below...

Recommended

New BMW M5 CS 2021 review
BMW M5 CS - front
BMW 5 Series M5

New BMW M5 CS 2021 review

The new BMW M5 CS super saloon really is BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine
4 Jun 2021
Mega BMW M5 CS unleashed with 626bhp 
BMW M5 CS - front
News

Mega BMW M5 CS unleashed with 626bhp 

The tweaked twin-turbo V8 in the new BMW M5 CS makes it the brand’s most powerful production car yet 
26 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021