$11K in Maintenance: 1988 BMW M5

This 1988 BMW M5 is a one the more iconic sports sedans ever made, still revered today for its performance and everyday livability. The seller of this example claims he has just completed nearly $12,000 in recent maintenance but only put a few hundred miles on the car since the work was done. The S38 engines can be maintenance hungry if not cared for, and even healthy ones are occasionally rebuilt for peace of mind. No details are offered on what the big maintenance bill bought the seller in terms of upgrades or repairs, but the condition looks tidy in pictures. Find the M5 here on eBay with bidding over $24,000 and no reserve.

The M5 was a Q-ship of sorts, maintaining a restrained appearance despite the performance that lurked within. The body received spoilers front and rear, with fog lights integrated into the front air dam. The M5, like the Buick Grand National, received black-out trim front and rear as well, with the metal bumpers coated in black and the chrome strip on the taillights also blotted out. The BBS wheels seen here were standard equipment on the M5, and present well with no obvious curb marks or paint chipping. The body looks quite nice overall, despite mileage being on the high side at 137,500. That’s the thing about these cars: they are limited production, high-performance machines you can drive every day, so it’s not unusual to see six-digit odometer readings.

The seller notes a few typical issues with the interior, which featured sport bucket seats with Motorsport badges and a leather-wrapped emergency brake handle. The driver’s seat bolster is slightly misshape from use, the the piping on the left side is torn. The seller notes the leather is also cracking in places, but this is far from the worst I’ve seen in an M5 interior of this vintage. The seller does say it suffers from the typical cracked dash which seemingly all E28 5-Series have, but he claims it was impossible to find a non-cracked unit. It is a challenge, admittedly, but they are out there, including sellers in Europe who have begun recovering cracked dashes in high-grade leather. You just have to be willing to put the time in to find one, and the install is a pain in the ass. The steering wheel isn’t original.

Hopefully, the bulk of that maintenance bill focused on a major engine service and potentially, a top-end rebuild. Close to $12K for a basic tune-up and suspension refresh doesn’t seem realistic to me, as aside from the engine, this is a fairly ordinary car to work on and buy parts for. Of course, given the seller’s other listings, he may be accustomed to simply dropping this M5 off at the priciest shop in town and not thinking too hard about what the invoice included. Overall, condition looks quite nice for the mileage, but a car like this demands having a precision understanding of what recent maintenance entailed, as you don’t want to be stuck holding the bag on an engine rebuild for an S38 mill – but even if you do, the ongoing rise in values for 80s sports cars will likely ensure you get your money back.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email


  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Another nice Bimmer Jeff! When I bought my Z3 I stayed clear of the M cars. All the research I did scared me on the Maintenance. I am still looking for a nice E34/E39 manual tranny car and that will not be an M. 12 K for maintenance on a car with 137,000 miles is to much for me. Gotta be a blast to drive though. Best of luck to the next owner!

  2. Ellis

    I own the last e34 bmr 6 speed sold in texas in 1995. Bought it from the original owner in 2010.
    Currently freshening it up. It has a super charger, Dinan exhaust, Dinan wheels from the 90S , large Injectors, over sized brakes and some other goodies.
    It’s never been a maintenance problem.

    Dont think I could ever sell it.
    Awesome car.

    • Djjerme

      Funny, my buddy who has an E28 M5 just finished pulling the Dinan turbo off it! Car had so many issues with the Dinan package on it due to the custom DME and other issues. Much better driver now returning it back to stock-ish.

  3. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Gorgeous! A BMW dealership in Minneapolis, MN had one on the showroom floor a few years ago and they were asking $14,000 if I remember right. Another missed opportunity.

  4. Skorzeny

    This is my favorite…

  5. Keith

    This are fun, fast, practical, and durable. However, they have to have had proper maintenance and care. They do not respond well to deferred maintenance and will become a nightmare. The fact that this one has had quite a bit of work already done is important. And for the miles and physical condition it’s priced right. This is one you can buy and drive the wheels off.

  6. Martin Horrocks

    Fabulous cars. Pity that US market had those ugly FED bumpers imposed on a really elegant, understated rocket.

  7. Russell Casey

    I had an e28 4-speed several years ago, one of my favorite cars. Sold it for a 95 e34 automatic which I love. Love this era BMWs.

  8. Steve

    I do all my own work.My e28 M5 has 206k. I’ve had it since 160k. I’ve done the oil pump and all the timing components. I trust the engine completely. The suspension is perfect ( for me ) Konis with Mtech springs. I tried every conceivable setup back in the day till I found this one.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.