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The original BMW M5, the E28 generation, is a historic car, the fastest sedan in the world when it came out, the start of a dynasty. You’ve known that. I’ve known that. What I didn’t know (and what I set out to find) is if it’s actually as good to drive as the legend suggests.

BMW kindly lent us a pristine 1988 E28 M5 for a day to run around its Performance Driving Center in South Carolina, just across the street from the Spartanburg Plant busily cranking out X7s and various other X-numbered SUVs.

Moreover, we asked if BMW had another sort of “standard” sports sedan to give the M car some context. Luckily they had a 1987 E30 BMW 325is around for a bit of a comparison.

Now, the original M5 only got 256 horsepower in the States and it weighed around 3,100 pounds. I didn’t expect it to be particularly mind-blowing, particularly for someone used to the power and composure of modern cars. I figured it’d be better than the 325is by a degree or two.

I was so, so, so wrong. The first M5 is one of the very best cars I’ve ever driven.

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Watch the full video above for a complete assessment of the thing, along with some history. I’ll also have a full review coming soon.