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Thread: Time (finally) for an E28 M5?
03-22-2008 08:15 PM #1
Time (finally) for an E28 M5?
I am just about to complete the sale of my 1993 M5 and after four E34's M cars over the past several years, I think it's time for a change. I love the look and history of the E28 M5 but, for one reason or another, never wound up with one.
I am curious whether the folks here still consider the E28 a viable platform to get into now. My biggest concern is whether the model is too outdated at this point to be considered seriously for anything more than a nice Sunday driver. Going from E34 to E28 is definitely a step backwards and I don't know whether reduced performance, comfort or reliability will bother me. I would looking to use this as a fair weather work car and put about 5-7,000 a year on it. It wouldn't be my only car, but I would need to be able to drive reasonable distances and ferry business clients without issue. Sounds like a stupid concern to have about a legendary supercar, but hey it's 20 years old now.
The majority of the E28's I see for sale at this point seem pretty ragged. I am well aware of the need for proper maint and the risks and costs associated with buying a car that has not been well maintained. And cosmetically, the tan interior's tend to look real tired. I have always made it a point to buy cars with black interiors as they tend to age better. I know there are a handful of E28's with black interiors out there. (I looked at one in NJ years ago...I think it was a guy named Rosario. Not sure if he still has it.) I don't want to get into a car that looks or feels old and tired.
How are the E28's to work on relative to the E34's? I am a DIY guy of average mechanical ability. I would hope that the E28 is easier to work on based on the fact it is a less complex car. What about part's availability? I am the [Oops!] type that replaced the underhood insulation on my last M5 because it had a hole in it and it would bug me if there were things I was "just going to have to live with".
I will have some money burning a hole in my pocket soon so I figured I would begin here with some due diligence. I am leaning towards looking for a bone stock, low mileage E36 M3 but there is a voice inside me beckoning me to go "old school" rather than join the legion of boy racer types.
Sorry for the long rant. Any random thoughts or opinions appreciated. Thanks.
03-23-2008 01:28 AM #2
- San Jose, california, United StatesMember No: 3044
- Join Date
- Feb 2000
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03-26-2008 08:42 AM #3
As with everything, it depends on what you want.
As I've said a bunch of times on this board, there is NO more soulful car than the e28 M5 (except maybe an e30 M3 which I have never driven). The e28 is a far more basic car (half the electronics) than the e34. The S38B35 engine in the e28 is also just an earlier version of the S38B36,37, or38 found in your e34 M5's minus the fancy harmonic intake plenum and more complicated engine management. I've always looked at the e34 as an Autobanh crusher while the e28 was more for the Ring. The e28 has also proven to be one of the most reliable BMW's ever made. Yes, engines are crazy expensive to rebuild, but other than that, parts are no more expensive than current day Toyota's. I am also a partial DIY kind of guy, and the e28 M5 was one of the least intimidating cars I've ever worked on (my old 85 CJ7 was probably easier). The e28 M5 is also a wonderfully tunable car. Suspension, chips, and exhaust make a huge difference in performance and add serious character to an already increadible car. Spend the money up front and get a good one because no one likes to hit at an unexpected $15k engine rebuild (speaking from personal experience) or $5k to properly paint the car.
As for the e36 M3, I never hear mush about them except that they are cheap and easy to find. The rear suspension mounts are highly suspect and the steering is not as precise as you would expect without heavy suspension modifications.
Always dreaming of another e28 M5,
Bob K.88 ///M5 2875369, RIP
03-28-2008 05:35 PM #4
Re: As with everything, it depends on what you want.
Great post...appreciate the feedback. One how question though, how in the wide world of sports does it cost $15k for an engine rebuild? That seems like a ridiculous amount of money. Basic machine work should not cost more than if it were a small block Chevy...and that's reltively cheap. How much can bearings, gaskets, springs and rings cost?
04-01-2008 12:35 AM #5
Re: As with everything, it depends on what you wan
I think it has to do with parts being rare. BMW knows there aren't that many people who would ever need an s38 rebuild, and because of that there aren't really alternatives, so they charge a little more...
I don't believe performance is that different either. My last dyno run with a JC chip had 235 to the wheels. So you're down 30 hp, but you're up (down) 200 lbs. As far as tires, you've got an extra 10mm all around, but the 200 lbs more than offsets it.
That said, I've never ridden in an e34 m5, so I don't know how the ride (road noise, harshness) compares.
04-01-2008 08:46 AM #6
Long story, but it has been detailed before
If you go to the M5 section of Mye28(DOT)com and do a search you will find the answer. Basically everything in the rebuild is time consuming, difficult to source, and definitely not for the inexperienced especially where machining is involved. Mario L. has some insider input from rebuilding these engines over 20 years. There were only 2700 made, so it's not like there are a bunch in junk yards to pull parts or a huge owners group making rebuild parts financially attractive. When I was faced with an $8k bill just to do the bottom end (very rare failure), I had to let the car go for parts. It's a tough pill to swallow, but all the more reason to buy a good one up front instead of going for a good deal.
Bob K.88 ///M5 2875369, RIP
04-07-2008 11:24 PM #7
04-19-2008 08:20 PM #8
Re: Time (finally) for an E28 M5?
Jay, I have found my E28 straightforward and enjoyable to work on. I have always been able to get parts, although the dealership sometimes gets confused with M5 specific parts. For instance, when I replaced the seat belt latch, it took three tries at the dealer parts department due to M5 specific seats. I've had to get a few special tools, like flex torx sockets to drop the transmission when I replaced seals, but mostly use standard tools or homemade jigs. The electronic control systems on the car are still user-serviceable; things can be diagnosed without special equipment. After 109,000 miles, and a long road trip to Alaska, my car is ready for some suspension work, but I've seen previously on roadfly that there are preferred setups established and available, or I could retain stock configuration. The M5 has never left me stranded.
My M5's paint and leather are pretty good and I've seen other examples available that look fine. I think the key is keeping it garaged always and not driving in winter here in Ohio.
I think engine rebuild cost is a factor of more expensive parts (at one time, $300 per piston seemed shocking) and specialized machine work at knowlegeable machinist. If I recall, the block or head needs to be prestressed on a fixture to machine properly, not something your corner shop might do or have the correct mounting fixture onhand for. You pay willingly for the experience to do the job correctly the first time. Also, there are some details to reassemble the motor, like when to oil head bolts and when not to, and attention to detail costs a little more. Now, I'm currently rebuilding a lowly Mercedes 190E, and Mercedes wants about $280 for a standard fit piston, so The M5's doesn't seem so bad in comparison. I found a used piston for the 190 on ebay for $60. I think you could rebuild an s38 reasonably if you did the grunt work yourself.
05-07-2008 01:16 AM #9
- jupiter, FL, United StatesMember No: 103264
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
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to e28 or not....
I own a e28m5 and a e39 5er,
the only thing that the e28 cant touch is the powerful ac system, and I live in south florida were that matters.I am currently doing the timing work on the motor which hasnt been too bad a job at all, i removed the rad, and condenser the access the crank hub with a impact gun, so i will replace the condenser with a new one which may increase the effiency of the ac system. the duct work and power of the fan will always be a limitation however.I have been able to get the system to blow at 48 degrees at the grills.
I suspect you will find the e28 tells you more about the road than the e34, which i like.
the simplicity of the systems is wonderful.
i have owned my e28m5 for nearly ten years, and have simply done any work it asked for and always took the oppertunity to prempt issues by using common sense replacing all the hoses bushings ect whenever one is bad. I will own this car forever. the e39 is a dime a dozen.
04-05-2009 05:16 PM #10
Re: Time (finally) for an E28 M5?
The e28 M5 made collectors status officialy in April 2008 Hemmings. You can do what you want but I drive mine 2 mabey 3 times a month on the twisty's here in southern Ohio. Don't get me wrong, I have drove it to work but it's like drinking half a beer and being forced to pour the rest out. Then agin, mabey the roads you drive to work are fantastic. If they are not I wouldn't put miles on it in such a mundane fashion.
05-04-2009 12:12 AM #11
It depends on what you mean by rebuild...
Yes, you can spend 15K if you need pistons, rods and possibly a crank and all that that needing to be replaced entails. But by rebuild, most folks think refresh. That is (as you say, Jay) not as expensive. Still, figure on close to $1,000 for timing chains, rollers, tensioner and rails/guides, oilpump, waterpump and other loose ends on the engine. Figure on $200-ish for a top-end gasket set. Figure $150/valve if they need replacing. Who knows how much on the dual-spring valve springs?
This is certainly not a Chevy. Don't think it - certainly don't say it. You don't see these getting dusty at your local NAPA sitting on an engine stand for $800 with a free toolbox and a can of WD-40.
I just did a rebuild on mine. I needed four valves, purchased a used cam-box with cams, and had seats re-cut and new guides installed. I had custom pistons made since mine had damage on the skirts from poor oil flow due to lack of maintenance (bolstering bob knox's point: buy quality). I had to repair the crank since my crank nut was nowhere to be found on disassembly. With that, my total bill is somewhere around $5k.
That may seem high, but my engine was built in '87 and never taken apart 'till 193K/miles. Luckily, the previous owners swore by full synthetic all along. Do I think this car is worth it? Yup! Would I look around more next time if I did it over again? Yup!
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