BMW 5 Series (E28)

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BMW 5 Series (E28)
1983 BMW 528i (E28) sedan (21539857803).jpg
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1981–1987
722,328 built[1]
Designer Claus Luthe[2] (1977)
Body and chassis
Class Executive car[3]
Body style 4-door sedan
Layout FR layout
Related BMW 6 Series (E24)
Engine Petrol :
1.8 L M10 I4
2.0-2.7 L M20 I6
2.5-3.4 L M30 I6
3.5 L M88 I6
3.5 L S38 I6
2.4 L M21 I6
Wheelbase 2,625 mm (103.3 in)
Length EU: 4,620 mm (181.9 in),
US: 4,800 mm (189.0 in)
Width 1,700 mm (66.9 in)
Height 1,415 mm (55.7 in)
Curb weight 1,140–1,410 kg (2,513–3,109 lb)[4]
Predecessor BMW 5 Series (E12)
Successor BMW 5 Series (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.

The E28 was the first 5 Series with the centre console angled towards the driver and the option of anti-lock brakes (ABS).[5] In 1983, a diesel engine was available for the first time in a 5 Series.

The E28 was replaced by the E34 in 1988.

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, four models were offered: The 518, 520i, 525i and 528i.[6]

Over the course of the E28 model, the following models were added: the 524d and 524td using diesel engines, the 518i with manifold injection, 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 carburetor. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 164 km/h (102 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 14.0 seconds.[7]

518i: The base model in Japan and some European countries, the 518i used a fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 175 km/h (109 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 12.6 seconds.[8]

520i: A mid-range model with the smallest of the available 6-cylinder engines. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 11.4 seconds.[8]

524d: At the 1986 Geneva Motor Show, four years after the introduction of the more powerful 524td model, the naturally-aspirated 524d model was introduced.[9]:188,190 It was only sold in some markets.[9]:191

524td: This turbodiesel model was the first diesel car produced by BMW. It entered production in late 1982, when 100 pre-series cars were built.[10] Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 12.9 seconds.[8]

525e / 528e: The 525e (called 528e in North America and Japan) uses a 2.7-litre 6-cylinder M20 petrol engine which is tuned to provide torque at low engine speed, rather than the traditional high revving characteristics of BMW straight-6 engines.[11] According to BMW, the 525e is more fuel efficient than the 520i, which has the same rated power of 92 kW.[12] In Austria, the 525e was detuned to 88 kW (118 hp).

Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars without a catalytic converter are a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 10.7 seconds. With a catalytic converter, the figures are a top speed of 188 km/h (117 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 11.3 seconds[8]

525i: This mid-range model is powered by a 2.5-litre 6-cylinder engine. The 525i was only sold in Europe. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 201 km/h (125 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 9.8 seconds.[8]

528i: Initially the highest specification available, the 6-cylinder 528i became a mid-range model following the release of the 533i and 535i models. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars are a top speed of 215 km/h (134 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 8.4 seconds.[8]

533i: Only sold in Japan and North America,[13][14] 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 replaced the 533i and uses the same 6-cylinder drivetrain as the M535i. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars without a catalytic converter are a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 7.2 seconds. With a catalytic converter, the figures are a top speed of 212 km/h (132 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 7.9 seconds[8]

M535i: The top of the regular production model range, the M535i uses the drivetrain from the 535i plus M-Technic suspension, and wheels and body panels not found on any other E28. The M535i was assembled on the standard E28 assembly lines in Dingolfing and Rosslyn. Factory performance figures for the manual transmission cars without a catalytic converter are a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 7.2 seconds. With a catalytic converter, the figures are a top speed of 217 km/h (135 mph) and 0–100 km/h acceleration in 7.9 seconds[8]

M5 version[edit]

M5 model

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


M88/3 engine (210 kW) of an E28 M5
M20 engine

BMW offered all their engines for the E28. These were the petrol engines M10, M20, M30 as well as their sport versions and the diesel engine M21. The M20, M21 and M30 are all fuel-injected straight-six engines. The M20 and M30 petrol engines have a multipoint fuel injection system, while the diesel M21 engines have indirect fuel-injection.

The only engine to use a carburettor is the four-cylinder M10 used in the 518, which is fitted with a Pierburg 2B4 carburettor. The slightly inclined engine is mounted on the front axle bracket and screwed to the gearbox.[8]


Petrol engines
Model Engine Power Torque Fuel supply Years
518 M10B18 66 kW (89 hp)
@ 5500 rpm
140 N⋅m (103 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
Pierburg 2BE carb 1981-1984
518i 77 kW (103 hp)
@ 5800 rpm
145 N⋅m (107 lb⋅ft)
@ 4500 rpm
L Jetronic 1981–1987
520i M20B20 92 kW (123 hp)
@ 5800 rpm
165 N⋅m (122 lb⋅ft)
@ 4500 rpm
K-Jetronic 1981–1982
92 kW (123 hp)
@ 5800 rpm
170 N⋅m (125 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
L-Jetronic 1982-1987
95 kW (127 hp)
@ 6000 rpm
174 N⋅m (128 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
LE-Jetronic 1985-1988
95 kW (127 hp)
@ 6000 rpm
164 N⋅m (121 lb⋅ft)
@ 4300 rpm
Motronic 1986-1988
525i M30B25 110 kW (148 hp)
@ 5500 rpm
215 N⋅m (159 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
L-Jetronic 1981–1987
  525e /
M20B27 92 kW (123 hp)
@ 4250 rpm
240 N⋅m (177 lb⋅ft)
@ 3250 rpm
Motronic 1982–1987
90 kW (121 hp)
@ 4250 rpm
230 N⋅m (170 lb⋅ft)
@ 3250 rpm
L Jetronic/Motronic 1982–1987
95 kW (127 hp)
@ 4250 rpm
240 N⋅m (177 lb⋅ft)
@ 3250 rpm
Motronic 1984–1988
525e 88 kW (118 hp)
@ 4250 rpm
240 N⋅m (177 lb⋅ft)
@ 3250 rpm
Motronic 1985–1987
528i M30B28 135 kW (181 hp)
@ 5800 rpm
240 N⋅m (177 lb⋅ft)
@ 4200 rpm
L-Jetronic 1981–1987
  533i[15] M30B32 135 kW (181 hp)
@ 6000 rpm
265 N⋅m (195 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
Motronic 1982–1984
M30B34 160 kW (215 hp)
@ 5500
310 N⋅m (229 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
Motronic 1985–1988
136 kW (182 hp)
@ 5400 rpm
290 N⋅m (214 lb⋅ft)
@ 4000 rpm
Motronic 1985–1988
M5 M88/3 210 kW (282 hp)
@ 6500 rpm[16]
340 N⋅m (251 lb⋅ft)
@ 4500 rpm
Motronic 1985–1988
M5 S38B35 191 kW (256 hp)
@ 6500 rpm[17]
330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft)
@ 4500 rpm
Motronic 1986–1988


M21D24 naturally aspirated engine
Diesel engines
Model Engine code Power Torque Aspiration Years
524d M21D24 63 kW (84 hp)
@ 4600 rpm
152 N⋅m (112 lb⋅ft)
@ 2500 rpm
naturally aspirated 1985–1987
524td 85 kW (114 hp)
@ 4800 rpm
210 N⋅m (155 lb⋅ft)
@ 2400 rpm
turbocharged 1983–1988


Independent front and rear suspension is used, with Macpherson struts at the front and a semi-trailing arm design for the rear.[8]

The front suspension was upgraded to use dual links at the bottom of the strut, as first seen on the E23 7 Series. This increases steering offset while cornering, to improve steering feel.[18](p106) Double-acting shock absorbers, coil springs and a front anti-roll bar are used.

The rear suspension is mounted on a delta beam that is connected to the body with three screws in rubber bearings, that have longitudinal play.[citation needed] Some models have a rear anti-roll bar.[8]

The steering on most models is a speed-dependent recirculating ball power steering system made by ZF Friedrichshafen. The 518i has a Gemmer steering system with a double enveloping worm gear, also made by ZF.[8]

Wheel sizes are 14-inch (16-inch for the M5 model) or 390 mm Michelin TRX.[19](p44)[20][21] All rims have 22 mm positive rim offset.[8]


The brakes use a hydraulic dual-circuit brake system with power assistance. The front wheels have disc brakes, that are – except for the 518i – internally ventilated. All models with 2.5 l or more displacement have rear disc brakes (non-vented), while the lesser powered models have rear drum brakes. To prevent the wheels from locking, BMW equipped the E28 with an anti-lock braking system, although it was an option in some markets.[8]


The E28 has a self-supporting body that is welded to the body platform. The passenger cell is a safety passenger cell with deformation elements both in the front and rear of the vehicle. Unlike its E12 predecessor and E34 successor, the E28 has a rear-hinged bonnet. The boot has a volume of 460 L (122 US gal). Most models have a fuel tank capacity of 70 L (18 US gal), with some models having a smaller tank of 63 litres (17 US gal). The glazing is made of single-pane safety glass, the windscreen has laminated glass.[8]


BMW offered the E28 with both manual and automatic gearboxes. The torque is transmitted from the engine with a single-disc dry clutch with a torsional damper in the models with a manual gearbox, the automatic models have a torque converter with built in lockup-clutch.[8]

Manual transmissions

The 4-speed manual transmissions are:[22]

  • 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

The 3-speed automatic transmissions are:

  • ZF 3HP22 (M20 and M30 engines, US market only)

The 4-speed automatic transmissions are:

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.[23] 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. From 1985, all North American models had ABS Brakes as standard. 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]

The 528i, 533i and 535i were sold with a catalytic converter in the United States.

Instead of importing the M535i, BMW of North America created the 535is.[24] 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 as 1988 model year car.[25] North American M5 models use the S38 engine instead of the M88/3.[26](p37) All North American M5 cars were painted Jet Black and most interiors were tan ("Natur") coloured leather.[27]


E28 production started in July 1981 and ended in December 1987.[28]

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.[29]


  1. ^ Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 4, 1. Auflage. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.
  2. ^ Caspers, Markus (2017). Designing Motion: Automotive Designers 1890 to 1990. Birkhäuser. p. 134. ISBN 9783035607840. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. ^ "1982 BMW 528e specifications".
  4. ^ "BMW E28 5 Series 518i Specs". Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  5. ^ "The BMW 5 Series History. The 2nd Generation (E28)". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ BMW: 518 520i 525i 528i. February 1982.
  7. ^ 518, 520i, 525i, 528i. Pages 6 and 50
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p BMW AG (1985-08) (in German), Betriebsanleitung, Serviceheft 518, 520i, 525e, 525i, 528i, 535i, M535i, 524td, Retrieved 20 February 2017 
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Heitz, Rudolf, ed. (1983). Auto Katalog 1984 (in German). 27. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. p. 242.
  11. ^ "Curbside Classic: 1984 BMW 528e – The Low Rev Modest Driving Machine". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  12. ^ BMW: 525e 525e Katalysator. 1985
  13. ^ "BMW E28 5 Series 533i (US) Specs". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  14. ^ "1984 BMW 533i E28 specifications". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  15. ^ BMW: BMW 528e, 533i
  16. ^ BMW M88/3 Automobilmotor
  17. ^ BMW: S38B35 Automobilmotor
  18. ^ Noakes, Andrew (2008). The Ultimate History of BMW.
  19. ^ Taylor, James (2015). BMW M5- The Complete Story.
  20. ^ "1981 BMW E28 5 Series 525i Specs". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  21. ^ "1984 BMW E28 5 Series 535i Specs". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  22. ^ "5' E28 model selection".
  23. ^ "1984 BMW 533i E28 Specifications". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  24. ^ "1985 BMW E28 5 Series 535is (US) Specs". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  25. ^ "1988 BMW M5 values". Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  26. ^ Taylor, James (2015). BMW M5 - The Complete Story. ISBN 978 1 78500 045 4.
  27. ^ "FAQ E28 M5". Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  28. ^ Taylor, James (February 2016). BMW M5: The Complete Story. Ramsbury, Marlborough Wiltshire: The Crowood Press UK. ISBN 1785000462. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  29. ^ "M5 E28". Retrieved 16 December 2013.