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An Emerald in the Rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5

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    An Emerald in the Rough - 12/1986 Dinan M5

    I thought I had completely missed the boat on owning one of these things in my lifetime. Luckily, the planets all aligned, or whatever, on May 19th, and I was able to bring home a car that I had only ever dreamed of owning.

    On May 15, one of my customers/friend, Jesse, gave me a call. He runs a self service car wash down the street. Apparently, one of his regular customers came in with his Audi TT and was BS'ing with him about my Jesse's E30 that he daily drives. They got to talking for a while, and the Audi fella (we will call him Rob for this story's purpose) mentioned he had a "E28 M5 in his back yard with a blown head gasket" that he wanted to sell. My friend was not interested, but said he knew "someone that may want that thing". Jesse immediately gave me a call and said "hey, man, I have something you might be interested in," and proceeded to explain what he found. He told me not to get my hopes up (I rarely do), but I got the owner's phone number and gave him a call the next day, Tuesday. Got Rob on the phone and he was very excited to talk to me - so much so, that I could hardly understand anything he was saying, he was talking so fast. All I could really understand was that he had owned it for 23 years and it had some Dinan parts and that I should definitely come see it. Figured it must be somewhat legitimate and not a 528eA with an M5 grill badge...

    We setup a time for me to come have a peek at it for 2 PM that day. The car was in a rougher neighborhood of outer SE Portland and on a dead end street. Furthermore, the driveway of the house was probably a quarter of a mile long and very hard to navigate. I thought for sure I was in the wrong place, but as I came to the end of the driveway, behind the house, I saw the front end of the car peeking out at me, underneath the carport. There it was, in all it's glory...but, wait a E28 M5 is never supposed to be green. WTF? I get out of my truck and meet the owner. We talk about the car for a little while, as we're standing next to it, and he starts mentioning some Dinan stuff. Then, he drops a bomb on me and says something about it having a turbo charger. Mid sentence, I walk over to the door, pop the hood, take a look real fast, asked Rob how much he wanted. He gave me a price, I didn't even attempt to haggle, so I ran home and grabbed the cash to make a deposit while he searched for the title. Came back and he couldn't find it. Gave him a deposit and told him to call me when he found the title. Couple days goes by and he still can't find it. Then, the great idea of just going to the DMV office and transferring it right into my name hit me, so we did that on the 19th at lunch time. Paid for it and had my tow driver bring it back to the shop.

    Here's what we've got...

    01/1987 E28 M5 - originally Schwarz over Natur heated interior. Repainted Lagunengrun-metallic in 1991 to match owner number one's E31 850i/6 Dinan twin-turbo
    Shipped straight to Dinan when new for a full turbocharger kit, built S38B35 (bored out, which makes this a Dinan 3.6 engine, Schrick cams, forged internals, billet crank, as per the previous owner), "racing clutch and differential", as well as a few other things.
    C4 Corvette giant front brakes, E34 540i rears
    Hideous 17" Momo 90s era wheeeeeeeels
    Excellent interior and dashboard
    Off the road since 2003

    The story behind this car goes like this...the first owner was a developer in the SF Bay area and had a shit ton of money. Obviously so, if they sent this car straight to Dinan when it was new. Reportedly a $94,000 (and change) car when new, with the way it was outfitted and such. He liked the car a lot and decided to buy an E31 850i/6 when they were new, finished in Lagoon Green. He loved that color so well that he wanted the M5 to match it. It was sent to a shop that did a lot of Ferrari and Lamborghini stuff for a very extensive respray in 1991. Reportedly a $15,000 job. I was told they used Glasurit paint, which was nice. The paint, being faded and weather beaten anymore, is still in decent shape for what it is, but it needs to go away...

    Owner number one traded it in for something else and it was sent to a dealer auction. Stan Bennett, who dealt with a lot of BMW, Mercedes and Porsche stuff in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, put it on his lot and sold it to Rob, in 1994, who was a fairly young fella at the time. From what I was told, his mother bought it/helped buy it for him and did a lot of the maintenance on it over the years. As the story goes, the car sat for a bit, while the owner was living in Las Vegas. He came back home at some point in 2003 and went to go drive his car. It must have been sitting under a tree or something to clog the sunroof drains (or perhaps a bad windshield seal), because the DME and Turbotronic boxes were water damaged (this was later determined to be the cause of this car's temporary demise) and the car started dumping raw fuel. Rob noticed a bunch of smoke in the rear window and immediately pulled over, thinking it had a blown head gasket or something of the like. From 2003-2010, the M5 went to a handful of different shops in the Portland area, and reportedly "nobody knew how to work on the car", so during that time, virtually nothing happened with it. Eventually, the M5 wound up being towed into a shop in the NW Portland area; the owner happens to be a friend of mine.

    From the story I was told by Rob, the car "sat down there for two years and not a fucking thing happened to it while it was there." From the story I was told by the shop owner, the car was towed in. They ran some basic diagnostics and concluded that there was an issue with the electronics. The tech removed the DME and said "water came pouring out of it". Obviously, that's an issue. Not having an 079 Bosch unit hanging around, they tossed an 059 from a 535is in the M5 and fired right up. First time it had actually ran in many years. They drove it around NW Portland for 10-15 minutes, to determine whether the engine actually had a bad head gasket or not. From how it ran, while driving it around (without getting it into boost, of course) and running compression tests, they concluded that there was nothing wrong with the engine, and that it needed a new DME, at a minimum. The shop owner and Rob came to an agreement on a standalone engine management they were going to use. They got it all wired up and really was not far off from running at all, but Rob pulled the plug on the job, due to money reasons.

    After that, it went to a VW tuning shop and that's where the issues started to arise. When you have someone working on one of these cars, who really doesn't know them at all, you start running into serious issues. They convinced Rob to go with a Megasquirt system and delete the AFM and go with a wasted spark setup, as it would be the most economical setup. However, for reasons I don't know, they never finished it up and the car went back to Rob's house, where it sat under his carport for the next almost four years, until I found out about it.

    I haven't touched the car since I acquired it, aside from giving it its first wash in close to 15 years, but I have acquired an S38B35 engine harness from an M5; many thanks to Aaron, aka "ahab"! The DME is next on my list to acquire, however, I never see any used units pop up for sale, just refurbished ones.That will most likely be the route I end up going. Obviously, all the rubber in the engine bay needs to be replaced as well as a cooling system overhaul. My goal is just to get it running and see what's actually going on with it before I go down that rabbit hole. It will most likely be a while before this thing sees the road again, but it will be a slow build, and I am perfectly fine with that. I'm not in any rush to get it done. I own it and that's all I care about :)

    Thanks for reading my novel, that is, if you decided to stick with it for that long. Here's a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

    Last edited by e30austin; 07-23-2017, 09:58 PM.
    Autobahn Motorsport - Portland, Oregon - restoration + service
    '88 M5 | '89 330is

    I think you need to work on the title... just sayin.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


      you scooped a dinan turbo e28 m5 with a perfect interior.

      you sick fuck.
      cars beep boop


        I am green with jealous rage. That's incredible man- I saw this on insta and couldn't wait to hear more!
        1990 Brilliantrot 325iS Build Thread
        1989 Zinnoberrot M3 Build Thread


          Nice find!

          After you get it running, let's start with those wheels....


            hole eeeee fukkkkkkk

            Turbo M42 Build Thread :Here
            I like the tuna here.
            Originally posted by lambo
            Buttchug. The official poster child of r3v.


              You lucky motherfucker. I hate you. lol

              Do this shit justice man.
              Dumpster Fire Pilot


                You don't mind if we all start telling you how it should look, do you?

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                All it needs is some valance and bumpers and big lights! (and wheels)

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                It's gonna be a great car!

                It's so funny when people have something so valuable and choose to not spend a few bucks for the right parts to keep it running, and it just gets abandoned.




                    Thanks all. I'll do something about the wheel situation once it's running. I have a set of RS005/006, RS211 or staggered M-Systems. Not sure what I will pick.

                    As far as the body situation goes, the diving boards are staying and it will eventually go back to Schwarz.

                    Funny enough, the Malaga E12 belongs to a good friend of mine.
                    Autobahn Motorsport - Portland, Oregon - restoration + service
                    '88 M5 | '89 330is


                      Originally posted by Austin! View Post
                      As far as the body situation goes, the diving boards are staying and it will eventually go back to Schwarz.
                      Noooooooooo! All it needs is a matching green dash and its perfect.

                      Great find man, came for the pics & leaving satisfied. It even cleaned up good!
                      M119 M42 M62 S52 S62


                        I hope you guys who don't live in the rust belt really appreciate how good you have it when it comes to finds like this.

                        We just bought a 1984 533i that was parked in a garage for over 20 years... and it's a parts car.


                          Originally posted by Austin! View Post
                          Funny enough, the Malaga E12 belongs to a good friend of mine.
                          oop..did I drop an E12 in there? ..sorry. (love that car).

                          Is it worth all the expense of going back to black?


                            Originally posted by LateFan View Post
                            Is it worth all the expense of going back to black?
                            Fantastic story and find! What a steal.

                            I kinda like the green personally, and unlike most resprays this one looks high quality and is a part of the car's history, just sayin....


                              Wow, what a nice pick up. Such a cool story behind the car as well. It was meant to be.
                              "I'd probably take the E30 M3 in this case just because I love that little car, and how tanky that inline 6 is." - thecj

                              85 323i M TECH 1 S52 - ALPINEWEISS/SCHWARZE
                              88 M3 - LACHSSILBER/SCHWARZE
                              89 M3 - ALPINEWEISS II/M TECH CLOTH-ALCANTARA