Kyle’s Corner (FYI) BMW M5s: Which of the Past Four Generations is for You?

The fifth-generation BMW M5 is a spectacular car. You can read my recent article at: 2013 BMW M5: Bottom line – It’s barely street legal

So, after covering the newest M5 which tops all the others, why even discuss the previous four generations of M5 cars? If you do not need the twin turbo 560 hp of the newest M5 or its multitude of technological advances, the past M5s provide great performance at a much lower price. Expect the following M5s to be for sale at better prices as the 2013 model becomes available. In the meantime, why not learn more about the past M5s to see which one might be the one for you?

The E60 M5 was available from 2004-2010. The engine was a 5.0-liter V10 making 500 hp. The engine was linked to BMW’s Formula 1 racing engine. The car is reported to have ‘cold’ ergonomics and the SMG automatic/manual transmission was deemed by enthusiasts to be ‘lumpy’ in performance. A six-speed manual was offered near the end of the E60 run, however, by then the car was a marked piece. Global sales of the car numbered 20,548.

The E39 M5 was available from 1998-2003. This M5 was built on the same assembly line as the regular 5-Series which was a departure from the automaker’s hand built racing heritage. The engine was a 5.0-liter V8 providing 394 hp. The car was equipped with luxury features as well as a high tech navigation system. In addition to the four-door sedan, a wagon version was also available. Some consider this the M5 to be a benchmark (excluding new M5 of course). Global sales of the car numbered 20,482.

The E34 M5 was available from 1988-1995. This M5 was hand assembled (what is hand assembled these days?) by the Motorsport shop in Garching located north of Munich. The engine was a 3.6-liter inline six-cylinder providing 310 hp. Global sales of the car numbered 12,253.

The E28 M5 started it all and was available from 1984-1988. This M5 was hand assembled by BMW’s Motorsport shop. The engine was a 3.5-liter inline six-cylinder delivering 256 hp. In addition to the four-door sedan, a wagon version was also available. Global sales of the car numbered 2,211.

And now the 64 million dollar question – which of the above M5s would I choose for my money?

I would choose the E34 M5 with its ‘traditional’ straight six-cylinder 310 hp engine at 8-12 percent ($7,400-$11,000) of the 2013 M5’s price, or the E39 M5 as it is a bit more modern piece with its stated ‘benchmark’ accolade at 15-18 percent ($14,500-$16,500) of the 2013 M5’s price.

Money is one thing, but how do the last four generations of M5s look?

Visit the slideshow to see these BMW M5s and choose what you like.

Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.

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