The history of the BMW M5

The history of the BMW M5
The history of the BMW M5

The mighty Beemer in pictures

We’ll be seeing the sixth generation of M5 at the Frankfurt motor show later this year. It’ll be the first with the four-wheel drive xDrive.

BMW’s Motorsport division made its first car in 1978. The M1 came after the first 5 Series of 1972, and then in 1979 we had this, the M535i.

The M5 made its debut at the Amsterdam motor show in 1985, based on the second generation 5 Series, the E28, which was launched a year before.

By the time of the E34 of 1989, the M5 had a lot more bespoke items, including radically upgraded suspension, braking and steering.

By 1992 the M5 could be had as a Touring model for the Europeans. It didn’t sell that well, but it was only offered as a left-hooker with the 3.8-litre engine.

Due to the poor sales of that estate version, the M5 of 1998, the E39, was only sold as a four-door saloon. This third-generation M5 was the first to be built on the normal 5 Series production lines.

The E39 was the first to be offered with a V8, a 5.0-litre unit giving 395bhp. The 0-62mph was down to 5.3sec.

The E60 of 2005 continued its separation from the standard 5 Series, with its own body panels based on a wider track.

The E60 could be had with a 5.0-litre V10, partly in homage to the BMW F1 team. With 500bhp, the 0-62mph time dropped to 4.7sec. That is, if you could get the seven-speed sequential manual transmission working smoothly enough.

The E60 of 2005 sold well but, after taking a bath on its first attempt at an M5 estate, BMW waited until 2007 to have another go, this time with the far better received E61 Touring.

The 2011 M5, the fifth-generation F10, first appeared at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show – there would be no Touring version.

The year of 2013 was a busy one, with a minor facelift for the F10 along with the offer of an M Competition Package. This pumped power up to 575bhp, with a retweaked chassis control system to better control that power and reduce lap times.

The 30 Jahre special edition of 2014 marked, unsurprisingly, three decades of M5 production. Power went up even further to 591bhp, with the 0-62mph time coming in under the 4sec barrier at 3.9sec. Only 300 were made.

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