In the 1980s, you might have been forgiven for thinking that BMWs were simply status symbols for affluent yuppies. But by 1984 (or, in North America, 1988), that had all changed with the introduction of the M5. Even today, the second 5-Series tuned by BMW’s M-Division (the first was the E12-series M535i of the late 1970s) makes a formidable first impression. With all of the trim blacked-out (including the window surrounds), and particularly when painted a deep black, “sinister” and “purposeful” are accurate descriptions. More important than how it looks is how it drives, and that story starts under the hood. BMW plucked the high-performance M88 inline six cylinder from its stable of high-performance engines. The twin-cam M88 was developed for the M1 supercar, and in the M5 it produces 286 horsepower out of 3.5 liters with the help of six individual throttle bodies for incredible throttle response (and a wonderful intake roar). It’s a motor that thrives on revs, with peak power right around redline, so keep your momentum up at the exits—a technique assisted by the M5’s improved anti-roll bars and a trick self-leveling suspension system. While the M5 founded a dynasty of mid-size Bavarian super-sport sedans that have gotten successively more powerful, the original M5 has a unique charm that will shine through and clearly demonstrate why the original is in some ways still the best.