1985 BMW M5
It’s been almost 30 years since the first BMW M5 hit the street. Now in its fifth generation, the car follows exactly the same formula it did back in 1985.
The magical elves at the company’s Motorsports subsidiary figured out a way to put howitzer-grade firepower under the hood of an everyday car. In the process they invented a brand-new vehicle segment, the high-performance sedan.
With five seats, four doors and one mission, the M5 was a highly focused automobile, but one that buyers could drive every day. That first-generation car, internally referred to as the E28, churned out 286 horsepower from a competition-grade inline-six that was borrowed from the BMW M1. From a standstill the sprint to 100 km/h took just 6.5 seconds, warp-drive for the era.
The M5 may have been the fastest sedan of its day but power is not the only part of the performance equation. A vehicle must have control, especially at Autobahn speeds. Fortunately the M5 was more locked down than a North Korean election. Burnishing its allure, it featured improved brakes, a beefed-up five-speed manual transmission and road-clenching suspension. Add it all up and the car stopped and turned every bit as well as it accelerated.
But the first-generation M5 also benefitted from a healthy dose of subtlety. With the exception of badging, the car was almost indistinguishable from a standard 5 Series sedan, making it a true sleeper.