1987 BMW M5 Tribute Car

1987 BMW M5 Tribute Car


In 1984 BMW introduced the M5 based on the E28 Series. The car was designed in response to demands to create a four-door sedan that had the appearance and performance of a sports car. However, it was not until 1987 the BMW brought the M5 to the US market, but all were sold as 1988 models. Only 1,239 E28 M5s were made to U.S. specifications, making this vehicle among the rarest BMW’s ever produced.

This 1987 BMW M5 tribute car was purchased by its current owner in 1999. The original car was a light blue 535i with an automatic transmission. The owners decided to transform this car into an M5 in 2016. While the M5 and the 535i share much in common, key mechanical differences include the suspension, brakes and engine/drivetrain. The suspension of this 535i was upgraded using M5 springs, struts, shocks, control arms, tie rods and sway bar. The braking was then upgraded using the newer E34 M5 braking system that had proven to be a much-needed improvement over the original E28 M5. The next step was to replace the automatic transmission with a Getrag 280 five speed manual transmission and performance clutch that was standard in the M5. A 3.91 limited slip differential was then added to the driveline to make it match the M5. The biggest mechanical challenge involved the M5 engine; a power-plant that produced 252HP in comparison to the 182HP that was produced in the more sedate 535i. Because of an inability to find a used E28 M5 engine, the owners elected to have the original engine rebuilt by a BMW performance shop. The result is an engine that produces 285HP, exceeding that which as available in the original M5.

With the mechanical upgrades finished, it was necessary to modify the cosmetics of the 535i. All 1988 E28 M5’s made for the US market were painted jet black. To achieve the desired cosmetic transformation, the interior of the 535i was completely gutted and the four doors, front hood and rear deck were removed. The exterior or the car and all parts were then sanded, primed and painted in Black (BMW Code 086). After the custom paint job had been completed the car was ready to have a custom designed interior installed. All US E28 M5’s had leather interior. However, 1,138 of these vehicles were treated to a Natur (tan) interior, while only 101 were given black interior. Further, while most E28 M5’s came equipped with BMW sport seats, a very small number were purchased with the comfort seats found in the 535i. Using the original comfort seats as a foundation, a custom designed black leather interior is now being created for this car. When finished, the car will have both the look and feel of a 1988 M5, built on the chassis of a 1987 535i.

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