PEBBLE BEACH

BMW shows off limited M5, but holds on tight

Willisch: No hurry to sell M5
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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — For all the BMW collectors who might want to add a 30th Anniversary Edition M5 to the portfolio, good luck.

Just one model remained unsold in the United States as of Friday, Aug. 15, and BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch says the automaker is in no hurry to let go of it.

The global production run for the 600-hp M5, which carries a sticker price of $138,275 including shipping, was exactly 300. Willisch’s North American team was allotted just 30 of those. And 29 of them sold the moment they were offered through a special telephone sale back in May.

Now, three months later, Willisch unveiled the limited-edition car publicly last week here at Pebble Beach’s weekend-long celebration of high-end luxury autos and exotic brands. The car carries the most powerful engine in BMW’s lineup — a tribute to the tradition of BMW’s M brand, he said.

“We created the M brand 30 years ago when we said, ‘Why don’t we drop the strongest engine we have — which at that time was what we were using in our M1 for racing — into a 5 series?’” Willisch said as he presented the metallic gray sedan, the most powerful production car BMW has ever built.

The sedan uses BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine. Engineers have increased its turbocharger pressure to push out an additional 25 hp. The car delivers 516 pounds-feet of torque and claims 0-to-60 acceleration in 3.7 seconds.

But few Americans will ever glimpse it. The anniversary M5 now enters a world of exclusivity that is celebrated alongside ultra-expensive small-run cars that were to be unveiled here by Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bentley. Jaguar was to show a prototype of its planned Lightweight E-Type car with the caveat that it intends to sell a grand total of six.

In addition to small styling and interior color changes and special badging to differentiate the M5, BMW also made control adjustments to enhance the car’s handling and traction.

The 29 buyers who pre-purchased the car also received an invitation to a day of performance-driving instruction at a private track in Palm Springs, Calif.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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