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  1. #1
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    Member No: 3996 stevetall is an unknown quantity at this point stevetall's Avatar
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    What should I do? An old, long, sad e28 M5 story.

    Greetings, everyone!

    Iíd like to make this short and sweet, but it is the story of a man and his e28 M5, and weíve been through a lot together. Apparently, there comes a time in everyoneís life when they realize that they have to do something that they donít want to because itís the best thing all around. Bear with me.

    The bottom line is: I'm trying to decide if Iím ready to part with my 1988 e28 M5. Vin # wbsdc9307j2791490, 289,000 miles. Iíd be curious as to how the e28 M5 community thinks I should go about this, and if you must, youíre welcome to contact me off-board. Here are the details:

    I bought this car in February, 2004 while I was living in Miami. At that time, it had nearly 250,000 miles on it and was living across the country in Burbank, California. The previous owner bought it in June, 2000 with 200,000 miles on it. He spent a small fortune over the next 3Ĺ years to maintain and upgrade it, and I have a stack of receipts dating back to new, including the original window sticker. In 2003, he installed a new $3400 E39 M5 factory transmission. Race Marque Systems in L.A. took good care of the car, and a Mass Air Sensor upgrade was performed along with the burning of a new chip, a cam gear upgrade, a full stainless steel exhaust, and a few other things totaling $21,000. Somebody's kid went to college!

    After seeing his ad and exchanging lots of email and phone calls, I was confident enough to fly to California for a closer look. It was everything the previous owner said it was and it drove wonderfully. I bought it and began the 3300 mile test-drive back to Miami immediately. It was a terrific 4-day crossing to be sure!

    During 2004, I replaced the drive shaft, installed a new front air dam, installed Bilstein Sports all around with Ground Control adjustable coil-overs (the self-leveling had been previously removed), upgraded the rear brakes, installed Zimmerman cross-drilled rotors all around, and mounted a set of M-System II Throwing Star Rims. Before moving to the coast of Oregon in 2005, I had a great time jetting around South Florida in this wonderful machine.

    In April, 2005, I drove the car from Miami to Portland, another great road trip! As you might imagine, I loved driving that car right up until that foggy October, 2005 night when I hit a piece of concrete in the middle of the road. Though it was only a 20 MPH-ish hit, it was solid, denting the left front rim, breaking the ball joint and, subsequently, the oil pan.

    In hindsight, the following 5 months were absolutely ridiculous. My insurance company decided that the car could be made perfect again for $5500. I now wish I would have taken the dough and the parts, but noooooo. So, the car went into the body shop, and I chipped in an additional $2000 so they would prep and repaint the entire car. As things got going, they kept replacing more and more stuff that wasnít included in the original estimate. Liberty Mutual just kept approving things to the tune of nearly $12,000. New strut housings, new engine carrier, all new tie rods, drag link, strut bearings, radiator, a fender, front air dam, T-Star rim, windshield, alternator bracket, and a load of other things. The body shop actually did a pretty good job on the body and paint, but the morons didnít use a new windshield seal and the car leaked, knocking out the cruise control. When the windshield guy re-installed the windshield with a new seal, he scratched the new paintwork in several places. I had the same problem with the trunk. The rear window seal let water in, and it in turn seeped forward into the passenger compartment. I have yet to get that fixed, but I have replaced the trunk seal and the taillight gaskets just to be sure. The trunk still gets moist.

    Anyway, I got the car back in March, 2006 and continued my love affair with it. I spent another $600 having the wheels completely stripped and repainted, and the car has never looked better. It looked perfect except for those little scratches around the windshield. I later installed the Euro headlights for fun and bought new half-shafts and a 4.10 LSD, both of which have yet to be installed. I also had the brake bomb replaced, a very not-so-inexpensive operation.

    In February, 2007, I discovered that cylinder #2 was only making only 50 lbs. pressure. Great. My paperwork indicated that the bottom end had only about 100k on it, and everyone I spoke to agreed that it was most likely head-related. Thatís the direction I took. All new valves, guides, seats, seals, etc. came to around $2500 in parts, a relative bargain (thanks, Steve Haygood!). Another $650 to have the head assembled and away we went. A few months after that, the car seemed to have developed some kind of fuel delivery issue that was particularly hard to diagnose due to the after-market MAS upgrade. I bought a used M5 Air Flow Meter, and along with the original chip, I planned to convert the intake back to stock so that my shop could get things sorted out.

    Well, itís May, 2009, I just got the car back from a leisurely 5 months at Boyd Motor Werks in Portland, Oregon. Great guys, and they really gave it the old college try. They installed a new idle motor, replaced the battery, replaced the brain, checked the chips, the intake, the wiring, and the fuel delivery. The best that they could figure out is that the problem likely lies in the MAS upgrade that was installed by Race Marque Systems (in Los Angeles) in 2001. Nothing personal, but RMS was just about no help at all. In fact, it was all I could do to get them to answer the phone, much less find anyone who knew anything about an e28 M5. They couldnít remember anything useful about their system or how the car had been modified to handle it aside from the custom-burned chip. I hit my financial wall, so I retrieved the car last week.

    What I have now is a great looking, fabulously handling, and quick stopping car that has lots of smooth power when you step on it. Under full-throttle, itís just as powerful as it ever was. Itís only when you get to cruising speed and lift your foot that it begins to exhibit an intermittent skip or stutter. It still feels like a fuel problem to me, especially since the fuel mileage is pretty good right now. Iím stumped. Iím now driving it the 3 miles to work and back each day, and the handling is first-class. The embarrassing/frustrating part is its lack of consistent, smooth power delivery.

    Well, this is all well and good, but I am now apparently too busy to invest more time and too broke to invest more money in getting this car back into the condition that it deserves to be kept in. So, I may be thinking that itís time to pass it along.

    Now, I know Iíll never get anywhere near what the car is worth, much less recover even a small portion of the money Iíve invested. Maybe it could be a good deal for somebody, or perhaps I can part it out for better money. Iím pretty open to anything at this point. Below, you will find a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly as far as I know. If something strikes your fancy, get in touch.

    The Good: The body is straight and the paint is terrific. The Euro headlights, the white-faced gauge cluster, the Blaupunkt stereo, the complete tool kit, all new front suspension, new radiator, brand new Bosch alternator (200 miles ago), new trunk seal, new tail light gaskets, new head hardware and the rebuild, the wheels are the best-looking T-Stars ever, (the covers are included and the fasteners have been upgraded to stainless steel 6-point), the spare is also a T-Star, Toyo T-1Rs in great shape, the transmission is in great shape and the short-throw shift kit is tight, window motors work great, sunroof works fine, seat heaters work, seat control modules and all seat adjustments work (except head rests) (control modules are $1300 each at the dealer!), exterior trim is complete, new windshield, head job, new idle motor, new battery, new plug wires, etc.,etc.,etc.

    The Bad: Small scratches around the windshield and a stone-chip on the leading edge of the hood, Euro lamps are chipped (but I have all of the stock lights and grills. Itís an easy switch), electric antenna not hooked up, stereo not hooked up, back lower seat leather cracked (happened when I put my knee into it on the day I bought the car), the left driverís seat bolster needs to be welded, the center console is loose, a small crack or two in the dash (very short, between window and defrost openings), a snag in the headliner along the sunroof requires care when opening and closing it, the muffler is starting to rust-through at the tailpipe, moisture in trunk and water finding itís way into the passenger compartment (I think itís the rear window seal), potential problem with the MAS conversion (but I have the AFM and stock chip), cruise control not working, etc.

    The Ugly: The frustrating issues Iíve described above!

    OK. You get the idea. Let me know if you have any advice, can help me set a price, or are interested in it, whole or part. Iíd rather not part it out, but Iím not quite desperate enough to sell it for $3000 when the head alone would be a great deal at that price. Iíd be interested to know your thoughts.

    I can be reached at: [email protected] and would be happy to call you back if you provide a phone number.

    Thanks, and happy motoring!


  2. #2
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    Member No: 60903 vze33jng is an unknown quantity at this point vze33jng's Avatar
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    Well, I guess I'll take it if you can deliver...

    I'm up in Maine.
    '87 <b>528e</b> "is" RIP
    '88 <b>M5</b> 193k (Head rebuilt, Custom Pistons, bored, will be reassembled slowly...)
    Dinan gen.1
    OEM Front & Rear Fuzz-buster

  3. #3
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    Member No: 107939 Laguna30 is an unknown quantity at this point Laguna30's Avatar
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    Re: What should I do? An old, long, sad e28 M5 story.

    Well -
    I would suggest dropping it off with my mechanic -
    Up here in Olympia (exit 99)

    Import Auto Repair
    360-753-5887

    Ask for Lopi (he usually answers anyway)

    Tell him John sent you - He knows my M5 269000 miles

    He is an old school factory trained mechanic - A hot rod builder and trained mechanical engineer.

    I would say he will make right - I would bet on it
    John
    88 M5
    01 Z3 Coupe
    81 & 80 320i
    72 Bavaria

  4. #4
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    Member No: 59965 RoyW is an unknown quantity at this point RoyW's Avatar
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    Re: What should I do? An old, long, sad e28 M5 story.

    Do what what Lagun30 said.

    You could be just a little more time and $ from a solid car that you've invested a lot of both in. It would be a shame to give up when your likely so close (in the hands of a quality BMW expert). Good luck... keep us posted.

    -RoyW

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