2018 BMW M5: First Drive


The first one I drove was loud like a bomb. A billion miles and rusty rocker panels, and the exhaust was partly blown out, so it sounded like Le Mans. Or maybe just Le Mans as it sounds in my head, a bagful of throttles and yowl on public roads.

This was years ago, when I worked as a mechanic in St. Louis. The car belonged to a customer. It was a 1988 BMW M5, the first one sold here, and the first generation made. Black, because all 1340 American-market 1988 M5s were black, with blacked-out bumpers and window trim. BMW of North America thought it would be neat to sell a 150-mph sedan done up like Darth Vader’s Underoos. The slightly healthier European version of the car gave 152 mph and more power than a Ferrari 328. It shared a basic powerplant design with BMW’s M1 supercar and engine-block architecture with the firm’s legendary 3.0 CSL. At launch, in 1984, it was the fastest production four-door in the world.

I don’t remember why the car was in the shop. I just remember the test drive after we fixed it, because the drive made that noise. My ears went to shrapnel. Read more about the 2018 BMW M5...

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07 May 2018


By SAM SMITH