This 1988 BMW M5 (VIN # WBSDC9308J2875317) is being offered for sale. It is one of the 30 North American E28 M5s that was produced with a black extended leather interior (option 0232). This is verifiable on the BMW M Registry. The car currently has about 186,000 miles. The car is located in Burlingame, California, which is just minutes from SFO airport. The car is currently being auctioned on bringatrailer.com.
After decades of lust for and years of pursuit of a black on black M5, I purchased this just over three years ago. Since that time, I have painstakingly embarked on restoring it mechanically and enhancing it cosmetically.
- I was told this was a “1 family car since new.” The original owner sold it to his brother who then gave it to his son as a wedding gift (about 2008).
- The last stamp in the service book shows 119,232 miles on 12/18/97. After that, it was serviced at Akin Bimmer Works in Brentwood, TN.
- I was told at time of purchase that all records the previous owner had were lost in a house fire years ago (car was not at the house at the time). I wish I had the records, but it is what it is.
- I believe the lack of historical documentation is mitigated by the detailed documentation of every part and procedure on this site.
I bought this car sight unseen (not the first) and there were a few surprises. My interest is to be as transparent as possibly about the condition of the car for prospective buyers. Below are chronological links to over 60 blog posts, which document the restoration, including over 1,000 photos. Some of the photos have captions to provide more context. I’m also providing a detailed listing of over $8,000 in parts purchased and over $2,300 in service performed. Most of the work was completed by me, as chronicled on the blog. The countless hours and specialty tools are worth many thousands of additional service invested in this restoration.
I believe almost all questions would be answered herein, but I’ll provide some highlights and lowlights here.
- Performed compression test. Results were:
- Cylinder #1: 160 psi
- Cylinder #2: 182 psi
- Cylinder #3: 177 psi
- Cylinder #4: 155 psi
- Cylinder #5: 176 psi
- Cylinder #6: 174 psi
- Performed valve adjustment, cleaned valve cover and entire intake system, reassembled intake system, adjusted throttle bodies to factory specifications, and synchronized individual throttle bodies.
- Reverted to all original electronics, including refurbished OEM stereo cassette head unit.
- Replaced front windshield with a brand new “green with green stripe” Saint-Gobain (Sekurit) part. Removed rear glass to fix headliner.
- No E28 should ever be marketed with an old, yellow coolant overflow tank. Replaced tank with the correct M5 part and flushed coolant.
- Replaced all rubber seals including trunk seal, sunroof seals, door seals,
- Paintless dent removal, removed pin stripes and performed paint correction
- Replaced rear brake rotors, pads and parking brakes. The front calipers were rebuilt and rotors, pads, sensor and soft lines were replaced right before I purchased the car. They still look new.
- Replaced driveshaft, guibo, transmission mounts and transmission seals,
- Rebuilt shifter assembly,
- Entire intake was removed, cleaned and restored, including new intake boots, new throttle cable.
- Entire suspension replaced including, rear diff mount, rear sub-frame mounts and pitman arms, passenger engine mount, driver’s side engine mount, entire front suspension,
- All of the seats and associated electrical are working perfectly, including head rests. The car came with a common lower bolster failure, which was repaired.
- One-crack and one-tear dashboard: the original dashboard was extremely cracked. I procured a crack-free dashboard, which came with a slight tear on the passenger side near the window. There was a slight mishap when removing the VIN tag and a single crack was introduced by me. Tough lesson and the first of many I learned along the way. You can’t seen any imperfections from inside the car and would have to look very closely to see them from the outside.
- Reverted to OEM BMW exhaust,
- Electrical includes new battery, alternator and belts, new starter (twice),
- Interior enhancements include new floor mats, restored and conditioned leather seats, and replaced small parts like a non-matching rear ashtray.
- Complete tool kit, including reproduction blue polishing cloth from Ivo.
- The car photographs beautifully and I’ve worked really hard to restore the paint (using the Griot’s Garage BOSS G15 system). I also spent a lot to remove as many of the body imperfections using a local painless dent removal expert. That said, there’s still one challenging ding on the crease of the rear driver’s side door. There remains a few smaller dings that weren’t repaired yet, which shouldn’t be a problem.
- Perhaps my biggest disappointment when purchasing the car was that the seller’s ad stated “appears to be original paint.” Upon my inspection after the car arrived, I noticed several things. One, the VIN tag on the front driver’s side quarter panel had been painted over, which was evidence of a repair. I tried to carefully remove the paint, without success. The passenger quarter panel actually has the correct VIN stamped into the panel (as well as the VIN tag). The driver’s side quarter panel has a different number stamped into it, which I believe is evidence that the panel is a replacement. The hood also has what I believe to be the VIN tag painted over. I don’t know if the hood also was replaced, but it definitely appears to be repainted. Currently, The hood has many stone chips given the car’s mileage. I personally cannot tell where the paint ended, but I know the doors are original by the correct VIN tags. All other VIN tags are correct.
- The seller’s ad did indicate “a very small clear coat issue next to the sunroof near the driver’s door.” This should have been a stronger clue to me that at least the roof had been painted, as any E28 M5 aficionado would know the 086 Schwarz paint was single-stage. Thus, I don’t know the history of the clear coat on the roof, but it indicates something was repaired. I can verify the rest of the car is single stage paint and appears to be original.
- The spoiler of the trunk and one other area right below the rear glass shows that the paint has burned through or been worn thin by a prior polishing. There are other edges on the car where the paint has been burned through to the primer, including the fuel filler door. There are some deep scratches above the fuel filler door.
- The rust on the car that I’ve found include the floor seams on the underside of the car from improper jacking, the surface rust repaired on the body seam when the rear windshield was out, and finally, on the rear trunk panel where the license plate lights enter the body.
- All of these flaws have been photographed in the exterior photos gallery.
- When replacing the seals on transmission, I was unable to get the 30mm nut off to remove the output flange. I didn’t have enough clearance on jack stands for a long breaker, so I took the suggestion of using a cold chisel to try to loosen the nut. Even with the requisite heat to release the Loctite, it did not go well. The nut is flanged and in the recessed cup of the output flange. I went at it for hours before giving up and finally buying an impact wrench, but by that time, the nut was too rounded over, even with a 6-sided thin-wall socket. I have a new nut, lock plate and seal. I believe the best way to get it off would be to weld another nut onto it and zip it off with an air impact wrench. I have neither a welder nor an air compressor, so this job is above my pay grade. The good news is that the main seal isn’t leaking and the selector shaft seal, which is usually the culprit, was replaced.
- Despite fixing many flaws in the prior headliner installation, the sunroof ceiling cover had several rips and tears, which could not be repaired. I tried glue, backing, tape, but they all failed to hold up. In the end, I just used black gorilla tape on the outside to make it functional.
- Finally, the CarFax shows a mileage inconsistency on 9/14/2001. The prior mileage on 12/27/2000 was 151,492, but on 9/14/2001 it was recorded as 138,798. I asked the seller about it but he didn’t have an explanation. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Given this was the only entry in SC between two in TN, perhaps the entry was mistaken for the wrong VIN? In any case, if the odometer were replaced in an undocumented way, it wasn’t by many miles. I decided to just accept the mileage as is. At 186,000 miles, what’s 13,000 miles between friends?
Given everything that has been mechanically restored with the pursuit of preserving a stock E28 M5, I believe with a quality paint job, this car easily has the potential to be a #2 Excellent car per Haggerty conditions and values. That said, I also think it’s an amazing driver the way it is and will provide the new owner with a lot of driving enjoyment without too much concern for racking up miles or parking it wherever. These cars are meant to be driven.
An independent PPI at the buyer’s expense is encouraged, which I’m happy to coordinate. I also really encourage seeing the car in person so there are no surprises, but I’m happy to also coordinate shipping for a long-distance buyer. Thanks for your consideration.