BMW 5-Series E28 – The King of Its Day!

Whether you drive a BMW, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Audi, or Volkswagen your vehicle is built on a long heritage of performance automobiles. Perhaps none other has endured like the BMW E28. In its day, the E28 chassis was widely recognized as one of the fastest sedans in the world, and it remains legendary among enthusiasts today. The BMW E28 also boasted a number of firsts for BMW. Although the E28 is best known for the “baby-six” inline six cylinder gas engine, the E28 524d was available with the first ever diesel engine from BMW.

The legendary 5-Series BMW E28 was produced between 1981 and 1988 and included a host of models including the carbureted 518 and fuel injected 518i and 520i, the first ever BMW diesel the 524d, the 2.5 L / 2.7 L 525i and 525e, the 2.8 L 528i and the road pounding 3.4 L 535i and the M535i. In 1985 – 1988 BMW also offered the race bread M5 with the M88/3 fuel injected 3.5 L engine.

The enduring “baby six” engine (M20) found in the BMW 520i, 525e and 528e models is a 12-valve SOHC inline six-cylinder power plant. This design used a rocker arm type valvetrain driven timing to the crankshaft with a composite rubber timing belt (yes BMW did make use of a timing belt as opposed to a timing chain that we are so accustom to today).

The “big six” engine (M30) found in the BMW 528i, 533i and 535i/is models is also a 12-valve SOHC inline six-cylinder design with a rocker arm type valvetrain. Unlike the M20 engine, the M30 made use of a chain-driven valvetrain replacing the belt of its predecessor. This design allowed for the displacement to be increased to almost 3.5 L in later engines.

At the top of the performance chain, the M5 came with a 3.5 L big six engine known as the S38. This engine is similar to the M30, but has a 24-valve cylinder head, duplex timing chain, dual overhead cam layout and shim and bucket style valvetrain. The S38 also breathed through six individual throttle bodies and intake trumpets. This engine was designed for high power and durability at very high engine speeds.

The BMW E28 chassis was one of the fastest sedans in the world for its time, and remains legendary among BMW enthusiasts today. If you are considering buying or restoring a BMW E28, many electrical, mechanical, body and trim parts are still available through the BMW channel. One area of particular caution is the electrical systems. As these engines ran warm and were tightly confined within the engine compartment, heat took a particular toll on the electrical insulation and wiring harnesses. This combined with age and the fact that rodents like the taste of German insulation, makes many a wiring harness suspect. Pay particular attention with the engine harness between the firewall and leading to the fuel rail.

Whether you drive a Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen or Audi, It is important to remember that today’s German performance vehicles will serve you for many miles and years to come. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us a line on this blog or through our contact us page. We are based out of Austin, TX and one of the area’s top BMW repair shops.