It might not have been the prettiest, but the BMW M5 E60 is by far the wildest sports sedan ever to wear the blue and white roundel. Nearing twenty, this astonishing Bavarian has come to be respected even by the loudest naysayers and there are quite a few reasons why.

Diabolically high running costs are definitely not listed among this car’s positives, but the supercar-grade 500 horsepower V10 surely is worth emptying one’s pockets now and then. The E60 M5 was not just a special 5 Series—because in fact, they all are. It was a special M Car, and that accolade is something much harder to earn.

Close up of BMW M5 logo

Close up of BMW M5 logo
All images via BMW.

Even if you already know a thing or two about this ultra fast orca whale of a car, it’s time to refresh your memory and remind yourself why it’s worth catching the last train for this oddly cut gem. If not, stay with us and see what you missed about one of the greatest performance cars of the early 21st century.

Background & Development

BMW M GmbH was founded as BMW Motorsport in 1972 as the company’s racing division. Before there was the M5, the M Division fiddled with the E9 coupé, creating a hugely successful 3.0 CSL homologation special.

The first M Car was another homologation model, the M1 coupé and then in 1979, BMW Motorsport modified the E12 generation 5 Series into the M535i, creating the first M Car intended for road use rather than being built for racing requirements.

The E28 generation had another M535i and then, in 1985, the first true M5 was born by combining the underpinnings from the M535i and M1’s M88 straight six. In the following two generations, the M5 evolved from a straight-six E34 into V8-powered E39 M5. All three generations of the M5 defined the sports sedan market segment, helping BMW cement its position as the ultimate driving machine.

The success BMW garnered throughout the 1980s and the 1990s culminated with the 1994 buyout of the Rover Group, with the Bavarian company getting access to Land Rover’s all wheel drive technology, thus creating the X5 crossover in 1999. In between these two events, BMW started working on the entirely new, more radical range of vehicles, trail blazed by the E65 7 Series in 2001.

The development of the new 5 Series began in 1997, finishing in 2002 and premiering in 2003 in both North America and native Europe. The E60 M5 itself debuted in 2003 as a concept, reaching production in 2004.

During its production span from 2004 to 2010, BMW M built 19,564 sedans and 1,025 E61 Touring cars (offered only in Europe). Out of those sedans, just 1,364 had optional manual transmission, and those cars are quite desirable on the collector market both in the US and Europe.

BMW M5 E60 Chassis, Body, & Interior

Having adopted unibody construction in the 1960s with the Neue Klasse range, BMW continued on building the majority of its cars using the same principle, and the E60 was no exception. Its skeleton was constructed from various grades of steel with aluminum front wing supports, roof and body panels. The center of gravity was moved downward and the nose-heavy front was lightened, helping the 3869 lb M5 achieve 53:47 weight distribution.

Front view of BMW M5 E60 on rooftop in city

Front view of BMW M5 E60 on rooftop in city

The polarizing design was widely attributed to Chris Bangle, but that is true only to a certain extent. While Bangle directed BMW towards deconstructivism, thus reimagining its conservative design language, the E60 and its E61 wagon counterpart were in fact penned by Davide Arcangeli.

An immensely talented young designer, Arcangeli joined BMW’s ranks from Pininfarina, but sadly lost the battle with leukemia in 2000 at just 30 years old, not living to see the E60 reach its production form. To honor Arcangeli as a brilliant

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By: Djordje Sugaris
Title: In-Depth Review: BMW M5 E60
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Published Date: Mon, 08 Nov 2021 10:21:30 +0000