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BMW showed its 2nd-generation 5 Series to the press in Munich, Germany in the summer of 1981. Built at BMW's plant in Dingolfing, West Germany, the 5-Series mid-size sports car looked similar to its predecessor the 3-Series, but featured simpler construction and a new weight-reducing design that cut curb weights of the various four- and six-cylinder models 60-90 kilos. At the Amsterdam Motor Show in February, 1985, BMW unveiled the M5, the most exciting BMW sedan variant yet.
BMW's M Motorsport division oversaw the adaptation of the company's 3453-cc inline-six engine from the M635 CSi into the 5-Series body along with changes to the suspension tuning and various styling enhancements. European versions made the 286 horsepower and reached 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds with a top speed of 243 km/h. When it finally reached American shores in late 1986, the M5 was detuned to 256 hp to comply with stricter emissions standards. Just six M5s were hand-built per day at the BMW M Motorsport GmbH workshop, with just 2241 copies reaching customers before production ended in November, 1987.
The first BMW M5, based on the E28 5 Series, made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1985. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a saloon (sedan), but the overall performance of a sports car. It utilized the 535i chassis and an evolution of the engine from the BMW M1. At its launch the E28 M5 was the fastest production saloon (sedan) in the world.
E28 M5s were handbuilt in Preußenstrasse/Munich prior to the 1986 Motorsport factory summer vacation. Thereafter, M5 production was moved to Daimlerstraße in Garching where the remainder were built by hand. In May 1987, the keys to the 1000th car were presented to Mr and Mrs Krampertz from Eichenau near Munich by Wolfgang Peter Flohr, the Director of BMW Motorsport GmbH.
The M5 was offered in four different versions. The first version was the Left Hand Drive (LHD) Euro Spec M5. The second version was the UK specification Right Hand Drive (RHD) M5. The third version was the North American Spec (NA or so-called 1988) M5. The fourth version was the South African (ZA) Spec RHD M5. The E28 M5 remains the rarest of all regular production derived M cars. Only the purpose-built M1 has a lower production run.
The LHD, RHD Euro Spec M5s and the ZA spec M5s had the M88/3 powerplant which delivered 286 bhp DIN (210 kW) whereas the North American 1988 M5 was equipped with a variant of the M88/3 called the S38 B35 which was equipped with a catalytic converter, which, combined with slightly lower compression of 9.8:1 versus 10.5:1 for the M88/3 reduced the power output to 256 bhp DIN (188 kW). The S38 also differed from the M88/3 in that it had a dual-row timing chain as compared to the M88/3's single row timing chain. The S38 B35 was used in the NA-Spec E28 M5 and E24 M6. Late production catalyst equipped Euro M635CSi were also equipped with the S35 M38.
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