The BMW M5 is a high performance production car manufactured for the motorsport enthusiast. The M5 is the sports version of the BMW 5 series car built by BMW Power. The car was first introduced in 1984 with the first M5 E28 which was hand-built utilizing a modified BMW M1 Engine powerplant making it the fastest production sedan car in the world at the time of its introduction. The M5 was always known as the best power for buck car in the world with a steady stream of followers that have utilized its engine and gearbox for many a street car build up. Subsequent M5 models have been designed and manufactured from each generation of the 5 Series baseline. The models included are the E34, E39, E60/E61, and most recently, F10 in 2011. The M5 remains to be the undisputed, most popular car at the top of BMW's midsize range of vehicles over the last two decades and still the M5 remains one of the best known sports sedan cars of all times, despite its closest competition which comes from the Mercedes-Benz AMG range and the well know 4WD Audi Quattro range respectively.
The M5 was produced in four different versions for various export locations. These were the left-hand drive, Euro spec, the right-hand drive , UK spec, the Left hand drive, North American spec for the United States and Canada, and the right hand drive South African specification for the African market.
The Euro Spec and the South African specification M5 cars were fitted with the M88/3 engine powerplants which delivered 210 kW or 282 hp.
The American 1988 M5 (S38) version was equipped with a catalytic converter, which, combined with slightly lower compression ratio of 9.8:1 versus 10.5:1 for the M88/3 for Europe and South African market, reduced the power output to 191 kW or 256 hp. At the time leaded fuel in RSA was of a slightly higher octane which could also warrant the higher compression ratio. The S38 also differed from the M88 in that it had a dual-row timing chain as compared to the M88 single row timing chain.
Aftermarket Hartge produced a 243 kW or 325 bhp version of the E28 M5. The main modifications included revised solid lifter camshafts with higher lift , modified exhausts, modified Motronic Engine Control Unit and a lowered suspension. Alpina on the other hand limited their tuning efforts to the older M30 engines and introduced the Alpina B7 Turbo that produced 250 kW or 335 bhp with a top speed of 270 km/h.