1991 BMW M5 - Reader Ride

By: Tomas Rivera

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bmw m5 front 2 bmw m5 front 2
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The last of the hand-built M cars


Tomas Rivera's 1991 BMW M5

I’ve had the car about three years, and it’s basically my dream car. I wanted a newer M5 originally, but when I started looking I just couldn’t go past this. A newer one just wouldn’t be the same. The car itself is pretty plain – suspension, the interior, everything is all pretty normal – the big piece is the engine. The induction noise, the way it pulls, it’s not like turbos these days. It’s a really old engine this, one of the last times they used it. It’s an S38B36, which was originally developed as an M88 for BMW’s M1 supercar, but then they changed it and put it in the M5, the M6 and something else which I can’t remember. The sound they produce is amazing, they’ve got rasp and they’ve got bass.Anyone who doesn’t like the sound of an M3 should hear this. I’ve been really lazy, I’ve got so many things on it I need to fix. I’ve still got a door seal from ages ago that I need to put on it. I’ve only really fixed things as they break.

Bmw -m5

When I got it, there was a major miss. It turned out to be a combination of five different things. So I’ve replaced all nine sensors that have anything to do with the combustion. The whole ignition too, all the filters and fluids... the fan and a little bit of cooling work, which is surprisingly good for a Beemer. More importantly, it’s now got coilovers because the factory suspension was tragic and it was shot. We didn’t realise how bad it was until we pulled it out. All four corners were leaking, which explained why it wasn’t nice to drive. That’s transformed it, it’s a totally different car now. It still understeers, you still have to really lean on the front to turn in, but it’s stable now. You can throw it around a corner more easily without it just spinning out like it used to. The tyres also might have had something to do with that, but they’re new now too.

I’ve had a few track days in it, it kept up with an XR6 Turbo but I’m not sure on how it’d go now. Trying to keep up with a Lotus Exige was some of the most fun I’ve had in it, although a mate of mine managed to overtake it in his 1-Series. I just held on for life. But when the M5 goes and you know how to drive it, it handles really well despite being about 1800kg. I’d be lucky to have one person recognise what it is every 1000 kays or so. Even at meets people walk right by it. Last week people were walking right past it to a brand new M4, but it’s okay because when someone does see it they just lose their minds. I think that’s because you rarely see them on the road. My sources vary but supposedly there were only 88 ever bought to Australia. It was the first M car sent here and the last hand-built M car, which makes it pretty special. All the upholstery has little flaws in it kind of like a Ferrari... okay, not really. But it is special to me.

Valuation guide: Good original examples range into the $30k-plus zone. 


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