BMW 5 Series (E28)

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BMW 5-Series (E28)
1983 BMW 528i (E28) sedan (21539857803).jpg
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1981–1988
722,328 built[1]
Designer Claus Luthe (1977)
Body and chassis
Class Executive car[2]
Body style 4-door sedan
Related BMW E24
Engine Petrol :
1.8 l 4-cylinder M10
2.0-2.7 l 6-cylinder M20
2.5-3.4 l 6-cylinder M30
3.5 l 6-cylinder M88
3.5 l 6-cylinder S38
2.4 l 6-cylinder M21
2.4 l 6-cylinder turbo M21
Wheelbase 2,628 mm (103.5 in)
Length 4,620 mm (181.9 in),
4,800 mm (189 in) (US bumpers)
Width 1,700 mm (66.9 in)
Height 1,415 mm (55.7 in)
Curb weight 1,370 kg (3,020 lb)
Predecessor BMW E12
Successor BMW E34

The BMW E28 is the second generation of BMW 5-Series mid-size sedans, and was produced from 1981 to 1988. It replaced the E12 and was initially produced with petrol 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. In 1983, a diesel engine was available for the first time in a 5 Series. The E28 was replaced by the E34 in 1989.

The first BMW M5 was produced during the E28 generation. It was powered by the S38B35 and the M88/3 straight-six engines.


At launch, the model range consisted of the base-model 4-cylinder 518 and 518i, the mid-range 6-cylinder 525i, and the top specification 6-cylinder 528i.

Over the course of the E28 model, the following models were added: the 524d and 524td using diesel engines, the 520i with a small capacity 6-cylinder engine, the 525e/528e as fuel-economy models, and the upper-specification 533i, 535i, M535i and M5 models.

518: Sold only in some European markets, the 518 was the lowest specification model which used a 4-cylinder engine with a carburettor.[3]

518i: The base model in Japan and some European countries, the 518i used a fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine.

520i: A mid-range model with the smallest of the available 6-cylinder engines.

524d: A non-turbo diesel model sold in Europe only. It was released in 1986, four years after the introduction of the more powerful 524td model.

524td: This turbodiesel model was the first diesel car produced by BMW.

525e / 528e: The 525e (called 528e in North America and Japan) uses a 2.7 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine which is low-revving tuned for economy rather than performance.

525i: This mid-range model is powered by a 2.5 litre 6-cylinder engine. The 525i was only sold in Europe.

528i: Initially the highest specification available, the 6-cylinder 528i became a mid-range model following the release of the 533i and 535i models.

533i: Only sold in Japan and North America, the 6-cylinder 533i was the highest specification model during its production years of 1983-1984. It was replaced by the 535i.

535i: Released in 1984, the 535i uses the same 6-cylinder drivetrain as the M535i and sat near the top of the model range.

M535i: The top of the regular production model range, the M535i uses the drivetrain from the 535i plus M-Technic suspension, wheels and body panels not found on the standard 535i. The M535i was assembled on the standard E28 assembly lines in Dingolfing and Rosslyn.

BMW 528i (Australia) 
BMW M535i (Australia) 
M535i (Euro) 

M5 version[edit]

The E28 was the first M5 model produced, and is powered by the S38B35 and the M88/3 straight-six engines.

North American market models[edit]

BMW 535is (North America)
North American M5 fitted with European market headlights

The North American line-up consisted of the 528e (1982-1988, known as the 525e in Europe), 533i (1983-1984), 535i (1985-1988), 524td (1985-1986), M5 (1986-1987) and 535is (1987-1988).

The launch model was the 528e in 1982, followed by the 533i.[citation needed] The optional automatic transmission was initially a 3-speed (a 4-speed automatic was available in Europe at the time), with a 4-speed automatic transmission becoming optional in 1983. The 524td was only imported with an automatic transmission, and the M5 was only imported with a manual transmission. From 1985, all North American models had ABS Brakes as standard. Electric front seats became a standard feature in 1986.[citation needed] North American specification cars were comprehensively equipped, with standard features including power windows, central locking, air conditioning, power sunroof, cruise control, alloy wheels and fog lights.[citation needed]

Instead of importing the M535i, BMW of North America created the 535is.[citation needed] This model is based on a 535i, plus front and rear spoilers, sport suspension and sport seats.

Production of North American market M5 models began in late 1986 (two years after M5 production began for European markets), and it was only produced for twelve months. North American M5 models use the S38 engine instead of the M88/3. All North American M5 cars were painted Jet Black and most interiors were Natur (Light Saddle) leather. A very small number of US-spec M5s were built with black interiors. Canadian-spec M5s were available with the option of a black leather interior.


M88/3 engine, as used in the M5

Petrol engines[edit]

The 4-cylinder M10 is used in 518 and 518i models.

The "baby six" M20 is used in the 520i and 525e/528e models. The 2.7 litre version used in the 525e/528e is optimised for fuel efficiency and low-rpm torque, instead of power at high rpm. This is very unusual for a BMW petrol engine, as is the correspondingly low 4,800 rpm redline.

The "big six" M30 is used in the 525i, 528i, 533i, 535i, 535is and M535i models.

The European-spec M5 uses the M88/3 motorsport-derived engine, which was unique for its DOHC valvetrain and was optimised for high rpm performance. The North American-spec M5 uses the S38 engine, which is a slightly less powerful development of the M88/3 that uses Jetronic fuel-injection.

Model Engine code Fuel supply Years
518 M10B18 Pierburg 2BE carb 1981-1984
518i L Jetronic 1981–1987
520i M20B20 K-Jetronic 1981–1982
L-Jetronic 1982-1987
525i M30B25 L-Jetronic 1981–1987
525e /
M20B27 Motronic 1982–1987
528i M30B28 L-Jetronic 1981–1987
533i M30B32 Motronic 1982–1984
M30B34 Motronic 1985–1988
M5 M88/3 Motronic 1985–1988

Diesel engines[edit]

The E28 received the first BMW diesel engine ever, the M21, in the 524td. This turbo-diesel model entered production in late 1982, when 100 pre-series cars were built.[4]

At the 1986 Geneva Motor Show, the naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) 524d model was introduced.[5]:188,190 The 524d was only sold in some markets.[5]:191

Model Engine code Aspiration Years
524d M21D24 naturally aspirated 1985–1987
524td turbocharged 1983–1988


Manual transmissions[edit]

The 4-speed manual transmissions are:[6]

  • Getrag 242 (for M10 and M20 engine models)
  • Getrag 262 (M30 engines)

The 5-speed manual transmissions are:

  • Getrag 240 (M10 and M21 engines)
  • Getrag 245 (M10 engines)
  • Getrag 260 (M20, M21 and M30 engines)
  • Getrag 265 (M30 engines and 525e/528e)
  • Getrag 280 (M88/3 and S38 engines)
  • ZF S5-16 (M20 engines)

Automatic transmissions[edit]

The 3-speed automatic transmissions are:

  • ZF 3HP22 (M20 and M30 engines)

The 4-speed automatic transmissions are:

  • ZF 4HP22 (M10, M20, M21 and M30 engines)


Front suspension consists of MacPherson struts and rear suspension consists of semi-trailing arms.[7]


E28 production started in July 1981 and ended in December 1987.[citation needed]

The E28 was still sold in North America as a 1988 Model Year car while Europe received the E34 in early 1988. A limited edition model was also sold in South Africa from mid-1987 to the end of 1988.[8]


  1. ^ Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 4, 1. Auflage. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  2. ^ "1982 BMW 528e specifications". 
  3. ^ "BMW E28 5 Series". 
  4. ^ Heitz, Rudolf, ed. (1983). Auto Katalog 1984 (in German). 27. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. p. 242. 
  5. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (March 5, 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. ISBN 3-444-00458-3. 
  6. ^ "5' E28 model selection". 
  7. ^ "E28-5-Series". 
  8. ^ "M5 E28". Retrieved 16 December 2013. 

External links[edit]