• Welcome to ozBMW.com If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the Forums Rules by clicking the hyperlink.

    Note that you are required to register before you can post.

    If you experience a problem logging in, drop me an email to admin@ozSkoda.com and I'll sort it out for you.

    To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

BMW 5 Series History


Staff member

from www.topspeed.com

First generation 5-series: E12 - 1972-1981

The E12 5 series was introduced in 1972. It was available as 4 door sedan. There were two models available: the 520 and 520i. Both models had a M10 four cylinder engine. The 520 had 115 HP and the 520i 130 HP. In 1973 the 525 cameavailable. It had a six cylinder engine with 145 HP. A year later the 518 was introduced. This model had a four cylinder with just 90 HP. In that same year the 530i came available. It had a six cylinder engine.

In 1975 a 528 six cylinder came available. It had 165 HP. In 1976 the 5 series received a small facelift. The grille now looked the same as the one on the E21 3 series and the rear lights where bigger now. The 520 and 520i four cylinder where replaced by a 520i six cylinder wich had 122 HP. The 528 was replaced with a 528i wich had electronic fuel injection and 184 HP. The 530i went out of production. In 1981 a new 5 series was introduced and the old E12 went out of production.

Second generation 5-series: E28 - 1982-1988

The BMW E28 was the second BMW 5 Series and stylistically, was an evolution of the E12. The new vehicle was similar to the popular E12 but was lower, had more engine choices, and minor styling updates. The most obvious change was to the car’s rear third where the fenders and trunk lid stood high rather than drooping as in the E12. But the nose was also thoroughly changed with a new hood that didn’t wrap over into the fenders (as it did on the E12) and a more aerodynamic grille.

In performance, the most notable E28 models were the M5 and the M535i. The 535i has a 12 valve 218hp six cylinder engine, while the M5 has a 24 valve twin cam 286hp engine. The M5 also has modified suspension and brakes.

The US market featured the "eta" engine. The 2.7 liter eta engine was designed to use less fuel, while still offering good performance. These models were designated 528e. This is the same engine used in the 3 series E30 325e.

Third generation 5-series: E34 - 1989-1996

The third-generation 5 Series, designated E34 within BMW, was truly an all-new vehicle. The 1989 5 rode on a longer 108.7-inch wheelbase, had an all-new structure with an all-new suspension, was significantly roomier than before and was a leap forward in sophistication, refinement, performance and overall comfort. As good as the E12 and E28 5 Series cars were, it was the E34 that propelled the line to the forefront of critics’ minds.

The E34 arrived in America powered by slight variations of familiar drivetrains. The 525i used a 2.5-liter version of BMW’s small SOHC straight six making 168 hp, while the 535i used a 3.5-liter version of the big SOHC six rated at 204 hp. While Europe got a new E34-based M5, it wasn’t initially offered in America. A driver-side airbag became standard on all 1990 BMWs, but otherwise changes to the 5 Series were minimal. Automatic Stability Control (ASC) was added to the 535i’s options list during the year, however.

The M5 returned to America during the 1991 model year with its 3.6-liter, DOHC, 24-valve Motorsport six now whacking out a full 310 hp. Available only with a five-speed manual transmission, the M5 was again a sensation despite the fact that it wore a set of the ugliest 17-inch wheels ever made.

Fourth generation 5-series: E39 - 1996-2003

The E39 was BMW’s successor to the E34 five series. The car was introduced in 1996 but was out almost a year later in the USA and mainland Europe. Produced from 1997-2003, the E39 5 Series is one of the most successful and lauded model series in BMW’s history. The awards the E39 has won over its seven-year run include four AutoWeek "America’s Best" awards, seven Edmunds.com "Most Wanted" awards, six Car and Driver 10Best awards, and a total of twelve Automobile Magazine All-Star awards. In its last full calendar year of sales, the 5 Series set an all-time sales record of nearly 41,000 units in the U.S.

The E39 is more streamlined than the E34. The E39 is only slightly heavier than the E34 due to aluminum suspension components. The E39 was introduced as a four door coupe, with the touring model appearing a year later. Unlike the E34, there is no four wheel drive model.

In Europe there were no longer any four-cylinder 5 Series cars offered, while in America the 5 Series offerings dwindled to just the six-cylinder 528i and the V8-powered 540i sedan for 1997. With 190 hp on tap and five gears aboard either its manual or automatic transmissions, the 528i was a solid performing machine despite its position as the entry-level 5. The 540i, on the other hand, now had a full 282 hp that was lashed either to five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmissions after a displacement bump to 4.4 liters (a change not reflected in the car’s name). The six-speed included a "Sport" package of an aggressive suspension and oversize wheels and tires to produce something nearly M5ish in nature.

Fifth generation 5-series: E60/61 - 2004-present

The BMW E60 is the current BMW 5 Series. Its design and many of its advanced features initially received mixed reviews. The E60 represents a huge leap in technological advance over previous models. It is now regarded as one of BMWs finest and most innovative models.

Active Seat continuous passive motion available on the 7-Series is introduced as an option on the 5 Series for driver and front passenger seats. It is available in both sedan and wagon versions.

The basic lineup of the new 5 Series is unchanged from before, though the wagons won’t be along until the 2005 model year. There’s still a 525i and 530i with BMW’s familiar straight sixes aboard, and the new 545i uses the same 4.4-liter engine as the 540i did, but recognizes the displacement in its name — and then some. The 2.5-liter six is still rated at 184 hp, the 3.0-liter six makes 225 horses and the revised 4.4-liter V8 now makes a stunning 325 hp. New six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are offered with each engine with manual "Steptronic" shifting on the automatic and the exotic "Sequential Manual Gearbox" (SMG) available with the manual transmission.
I've had a few 5s over the years. My first was this beauty, a 1989 535i in a 5 speed manual. I should never have sold it. After that I "upgraded" to the E34 540i which was a lemon. Then the E39 535i which was a lovely drive, if a little underpowered for a V8. I took a break from 5s for a number of years but I now have the G30 LCI 530d and a G30 LCI M550i.