For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

Oh, the things we see on eBay . The commerce site has and will always have some interesting items up for sale or auction. That was no more evident to us than when we happened upon a restored 1988 BMW M5 that actually looks pretty good given its age. According to the seller, this particular M5 has been restored to serve as a nice "daily driver," the kind that can take you from point A to point B in style and without any mechanical problems. Given that its essentially a 26-year old car, such ringing promises are good to hear.

More impressive in this case is the car’s reported forays in the drag strip back in its day. It can supposedly run a quarter-mile in 13 seconds, no small feat for any sports car by today’s standards.

But you’re not getting just any M5 either, as it was also given a series of upgrades. These upgrades include the installation of a new throwout bearing and new transmission output shaft and shifter seals. The best of the updates is a hot new engine that not only adds some extra firepower, but also had just 17,000 miles on it when the owner dropped it into the car.

Click past the jump to read more about the 1988 BMW M5.

Source: eBay

Exterior

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

Three years ago, the body of this M5 was repainted so there shouldn’t be any rust issues. Given their age, both front fenders were also replaced and the same can be said for the windshield and the fog and driving lights. Likewise, this M5 also has Euro bumpers with MTech covers on the front and rear, Euro headlights and grilles, and a glass BMW moonroof that was only a Euro option back in the day.

Years in the mix means more need for a replacement and this M5 appears to have been given the proper restoration process. It doesn’t look new by any stretch of the imagination, but for its age, it looks about as sprightly as it can be. Radio antennas from the Z3 were installed so this isn’t a purely M5 vehicle anymore but those are quirks that could be tolerated.

Euro Headlights

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

Interior

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

By today’s standards, the interior of this M5 will probably gain next to nothing in adulation. But back then, it really was ahead of its time. The current configuration is far from the original, having been replaced over the years by parts that have kind of been mish-mashed. For one, the front seats aren’t exactly that from the 1988 M5. Instead, they’re from the 1974 7 Series, which fortunately came as a direct fit to the M5’s mounting joints.

From there, the cabin also received a new M-Tech I steering wheel, a new carpet, a new fabric headliner, new floor mats, and a map-light rear view mirror.

Rounding out the interior changes include the installation of Dynomat on various parts of the cabin for sound deadening, a 13-button OBC and Check panel, and a JVC head unit.

All in all, you’d be mistaken for identifying this cabin as brand new. It really isn’t, but give a lot of credit to the seller for doing all it took to make it more than just presentable. It should be comfortable to get into one and once you’re in it, you probably won’t mind sitting on seats that were otherwise used for an entirely different BMW.

Drivetrain

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

The most appealing part about this restored 1988 M5 is its engine, or the engine that was installed to replace the original unit. Instead of still using its factory-installed powertrain, the seller opted for something a little more modern: a 3.3-liter, straight-six from a 2005 M3 , one that produced 343 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque — the old S38B35 engine that came stock in the M5 produced just 256 horsepower. The engine does have about 20,000 miles on it, but it still packs more power than the old sort from the late 80’s.

Additional upgrades also included an E34 oil pan, pick-up and dipstick, a Z3M wiring harness and airbox, a drive-by-wire gas pedal, plenty of new hoses, and an ECU reprogram courtesy of BImmerworld.

Likewise, a ZF six-speed transmission that also has around 20,000 miles on it has been installed to further improve the car’s performance credentials. The vehicle also as a new custom driveshaft from Portland Driveline, custom stainless-steel, long-tube headers to dual 2.25-inch pipees, and a sophisticated exhaust and muffler setup that features dual Magnaflow Cats, into an X-Pipe, into a dual in/out Borla stainless-steel muffler, into dual 2.25-inch glasspacks exiting through 3.5-inch polished tips.

There’s no mention on the kind of power this engine now produces, but 365 horsepower is a reasonable estimate.

Prices

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

There’s a little over four days before bidding ends and as of press time, the current bidding price is at $25,200, which still seems like a bargain this late in the bidding process.

Conclusion

For Sale: 1988 BMW M5 with S54 Engine Swap

This restoration project looks top-notch, given the level of tender, love, and care the owner put the car through to make it look and presumably perform the way it does. While we can totally vouch for the former, the latter is a little tricky given that we’re always of the belief that judging a car’s performance — especially those that have been restored — can only be done through personally testing it.

So we’re not going to judge the impressiveness of this M5 based on its mechanical features. What we can do is admit to liking how it turned out from an aesthetic point of view. On that end, we’ll give this restored 1988 M5 top marks for looking better than most BMWs its age.

LOVE IT
  • Nice work on restoring the body and interior
  • 2005 engine will give it great power
LEAVE IT
  • Looks like there’s a lot of interested bidders already
  • Price might spike closer to bidding deadline

What is your take?

Back to top