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    Shark Hunting
    CAR: 1981 BMW 323i TOP CABRIO
    OWNER: Sanjay Seetanah

    / #1981 / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW / #M20B23 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW / #BMW-323i-Baur / #BMW-323i-Baur-E21 / #BMW-323i-Baur-Cabriolet / #BAUR / #1981-BMW-323i / #1981-BMW-323i-E21 / #1981-BMW-323i-Baur / #Bosch-K-Jetronic

    Have you heard classic BMWs described as ‘sharknose’? Sharknose-era BMWs were manufactured from the 1960s through to the late ’80s and represent a crucial period in BMW’s history. They can be as different as they are similar. Some were built for racing, some were built for families.

    Some featured cutting-edge technology, others were a little more basic. What brings them together is a common design aesthetic. They range from the Neue Klasse models of the ’60s through to the M1 and E28 (the second-generation 5-series), taking in the CSA, CS and CSLs and the earlier 3-, 5-, 6- and 7-series along the way.

    Now the #BMW-Car-Club has introduced a new umbrella group called the Sharknose Collection, and I was delighted to be asked to attend a gathering of cars from this collection to produce a video for the club’s website. As club secretary Richard Baxter says: ‘These cars are now becoming sought after yet finding parts and specialists can be difficult. The Sharknose section of the club aims to give cars and owners a collective platform at shows, to help with parts and accessories, to share technical days, and allow networking with fellow owners.’

    The pressure was on to get my Baur looking as good as possible, given the company that it was going to be with. I contacted Joseph Crowe, owner of Knowl Hill Performance Cars in Maidenhead (www.knowlhill. com), and he obligingly ensured that the car was machine polished to look its best.

    Gathered together for the shoot were some of the very best examples of sharknose BMWs in the UK. In the picture, above, from left to right are Stu and Lizzy Blount’s grey #BMW-E28 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E28 , Tony Wilkes’ beige #BMW-E3 , Georg Champ’s red #BMW-2002 , Sam Lever’s blue #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 , Trevor Gude’s white #BMW-E12 / #BMW-M535i-E12 , my own BMW-323i Baur Top Cabrio and Kos Ioizou’s beautiful red #BMW-635CSi-E24 . I was amazed at the depth of knowledge and passion for the cars shown by all the owners – the future of these classics is safe in their hands.

    The Club is looking for ownership and restoration stories to share in its monthly publication Straight Six and hopes to attract owners of cars not yet known about. Cars from the Sharknose Collection will be on show at several events this year, including Masters at Brands Hatch on 26-27 May; Sharknose Europe at Rosmalen, Holland, on 23 June; Silverstone Classic on 20-22 July and the club’s National Festival on 12 August at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. There’s more info at and I hope I will get along to at least one or two in the Baur.

    Above and below Sharknose Collection members lined up some of the UK’s finest examples, including Sanjay’s 323i Baur cabriolet.
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    Car #BMW-528 / #BMW-E12 / #BMW-5-Series-E12 / #BMW-528-E12 / #1975 / #BMW / #1975-BMW-528-E12
    Name James Heaney
    Age 42
    From Melbourne, Australia
    Occupation Interior designer
    First classic 1973 Holden Statesman Deville
    Dream classic 1962-’1968 Mercedes two-door Coupé
    Daily driver Audi A4 quattro
    Favourite driving song I’m in Love With My Car Queen

    I first saw ‘Bernadette’ in the early ’90s, in stunning Siena Bronz with Champagne Beige interior and sparkling alloys, in the European car showroom at Port Melbourne. My partner at the time told me not to touch it because it would be too expensive to run... so I did just the opposite and bought it. I had been looking for an old Benz or something European – it had to be ‘old school’ with a smell of leather, a wood-grain dash, a classic shape, stately looks and a bonnet that opens forwards. How sensible, the opposite to ‘conventional’ cars.

    Bernadette fitted the bill. A 1975 E12 BMW – the first of the 5 Series – with double-barrel carburetted 2.8-litre ‘six’. It was designed by French stylist Paul Bracq and aimed directly at the 280 Benz. I fell for its wedge-like profile, with long bonnet and short backside (like all good German sports cars should be), so James and Bernadette became an item. Fortunately, my partner also loved the 528 when I finally brought it home.

    I had a daily runabout so Bernadette was my Sunday car, but I also liked to take the BMW on weekday visits to clients. Whether it was used for long drives or short outings for summer picnics, the old girl never missed a beat, and always had a real presence when parked. It loves to eat up the highways and feels at home travelling at 140kph (88mph) or shunting in stop-start traffic, but – just like its owner – the 528 hates the cold until it’s fully warm. It also loves a bit of a drink, with that big straight-six and one-ton frame – it’s a tough old bird.

    In 2003, however, the honeymoon came to an end. I returned home from working overseas for six months, and during that period Bernie was looked after by family members who didn’t give it any exercise. While merrily driving down the freeway listening to the stereo, windows down, on a sunny day, I heard a funny noise. Then steam began to pour from under the bonnet; I glanced down at the temperature gauge and, to my horror, it was boiling. With a cough and a splutter, Bernadette crawled over to the side of the road.

    It was a sad day as the mechanic told me the worst: “You’ve cooked the engine.” I watched the BMW roll on to the back of a truck in all its classic glory – it still looked beautiful, even in death. Everyone told me that I should get rid of Bernadette, that it would be too expensive to fix, and that parts would be hard to find, so the car went into storage with a friend for several months while I tried to get some money together.

    I was happy to do it, however, and have never regretted it. The BMW was always reliable in the past, and the fact that no one else has another like it was enough for me. The mechanic agreed and sung its praises, before suggesting that the rebuilt motor should last for another 29 years.

    Since then, somebody has run a coin down its side in Fitzroy, a trendy suburb of Melbourne, leaving a deep scratch. The ashtray has also been pinched, and I’ve never been able to find a replacement because it was an unusual, chrome-edged version and parts are becoming harder to source.

    Bernadette is getting rarer each year, and attracts comments such as: “Nice old BeeEmm,” or, “They don’t make ’em like that any more.” German cars of this period are true classics, with the build quality that you expect of a European machine – and which has been somewhat lost in recent years. I have no interest at all in newer BMWs, it’s classics all the way and my next purchase will be a two-door: Bernadette needs a partner, too!

    ‘Merrily driving down the freeway I heard a noise, then steam began to pour from beneath the bonnet’

    Clockwise, from main: dry climate Down Under helps keep bodywork rot-free; ‘wedge’ profile appealed; Heaney with beloved 528; E12 is regularly showed.
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    BMW E12 5 Series / #BMW-5-Series-E12 / #BMW-528-E12 / #1977 / #BMW

    It’s now 21 years since I owned my first #BMW-E12 / #BMW-5-Series , a silver #1977 #BMW-528-Auto-E12 TPA308S that I wrote about for BMW Car way back in 1995 – yep, I’m that old. I was pleased to hear that the old bird is still alive (well, in one piece!) but I recall there being no shortage of used parts; even in 1994 the E12 was an old car with the last examples being some 13 years old, so it’s amazing that any are still left and they were never that common on the roads. Survivors range from the desperate four-speed 518 through the six-cylinder 520, the rapid and well-regarded 528i and the one that’s really worth having, the M535i. These are touted as the first ever M car but strictly speaking they weren’t as the motorsport guys had been shoehorning CSL running gear into E12 525 shells as far back as 1973 and 1974 for selected customers – Paddy Hopkirk had one. I can only assume my Sapphire blue example (SWY7W) is now long dead, but there are still just about enough ropey examples left to provide heroes with something worthwhile to restore. With the prices of M5s now rapidly heading north and CSL values stagnated at around £50k – they won’t get cheaper or much more expensive – an E12 M535i could be a great investment. There’s something about the car that appeals to me – after all, when it was launched in 1980, there was only one other motorsport car and that was the M1. This was the era of BMW first taking an interest of Formula One, Procar racing and the formation of #BMW-GB – the good old days!
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    As diverse as BMW owners are — a sweeping assortment of business executives, professional people, movie stars and royalty — there is one thing they all seem to have in common: an unabashed enthusiasm for their BMW.

    An enthusiasm that seems to increase as the years and miles goby.
    What causes this exceedingly rare relationship between man and machine? Quite frankly, the caliber of the machine.

    The BMW-530i is a luxury sedan designed by racing engineers. The very same engineers responsible for the prodigious reputation BMW has enjoyed over the past decade on the great race circuits of the world.

    German engineers who, in the words of the editor of Car and Driver magazine, believe that "...driving, like life, is a two-hands affair that should be grasped firmly, taken seriously and done well.” Under the hood of the #BMW-530i-E12 is a three-liter #M30 / #M30B30 , fuel-injected masterwork of engineering Road & Track magazine calls "...the most refined in-line six in the world.”

    The suspension is fully independent on all four wheels. Resulting in a degree of control and comfort so unique it will spoil you for the solid rear axle systems found on most imported and all domestic sedans.

    All told, it is a car so singularly enjoyable to drive that, in Germany, I a land of legendary driving machines as in the rest of Europe-BMW sells more high-performance luxury cars than any other manufacturer.

    If you agree that extraordinary performance is the only thing that makes an expensive car worth the money, we suggest you call a BMW dealer and arrange a thorough test drive.


    If one can judge from the plethora of "late model”, "hardly driven" luxury sedans that grace the used car lots of America, it would seem that the average American's love affair with his car is surprisingly brief.
    Social observers may well at-tribute this curious phenomenon to some sort of inate fickleness.

    We at the Bavarian Motor Works, however, choose to point our finger in another direction.
    Put as charitably as possible, the majority of the world's luxury cars — while lacking nothing in the area of luxury — are considerably lacking in the area of performance.

    The one thing, in our view, that makes an expensive car worth the money.


    While the 1975 BMW 530i E12 provides all the creature comforts one could sanely require of an automobile, it also provides a driving experience so unusual, so exhilarating, that people who have never before enjoyed driving find themselves seeking out long sweeping curves and twisting back roads.

    Its acceleration comes up smoothly — with the turbine-like whine characteristic of the renowned 3-liter, fuel-injected BMW engine.

    Its four-speed transmission (automatic transmission #ZF3HP is available) slips precisely into each gear.
    Its suspension — independent on all four wheels — is quick and clean through the corners; its steering sharp and accurate.

    And on the inside, where the average luxury sedan leans heavily toward the frivolous, the #BMW 530i E12 has been biomechancally engineered to facilitate total, precise control at all times, under all conditions.

    Actually designed to include the driver as an integral, functioning part of the mechanical workings of the car itself.

    All seats are orthopedically moulded; front seats infinitely adjustable. Controls are within easy reach and all instruments are instantly visible.

    So successfully is all this accomplished that one automotive expert wrote "...the 530i E12 does so much so well we are hard pressed to think of a car that can even come close to matching it”.

    If the thought of owning such a car intrigues you, call us anytime, toll-free, at 800-243-6000 (Conn. 1-800-882-6500) and we'll arrange a thorough test drive for you at your convenience.

    THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE! Bavarian Motor Works, Munich, Germany
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    The luxury car all automotive engineers would design if the automobile companies would let them. Bavarian MotorWorks, Munich, Germany. / #1976 #USA #BMW-530i-E12 / #BMW-E12 / #BMW-530i / #Magazine-Advert /

    In an age of mass-produced status symbols and marketing wizardry, the engineers of the Bavarian Motor Works concentrate on building the best driving machines it is physically and technically possible to build.

    Irrespective of passing fashion or price.

    And, as a feat of pure engineering intelligence — as a luxury automobile perfect for its time-the new BMW 530i may well be unequalled in all the world.

    Our status symbol is under the hood, not on it. If #BMW is known for anything it is superb, innovative engineering.

    With all its ultimate good sense, the 530i not only exemplifies the extraordinary performance and feel so characteristic of BMW, it exceeds it.

    Its 3-liter, fuel-injected engine-small when compared to domestic behemoths-develops smooth, reliable, turbine-like power. With a maximum of fuel economy and a minimum of pollution. Safety, more than just brute strength.

    The BMW-530i-E12 is not designed merely to meet the legal requirements, but to surpass them.

    Steel belted radial tires are standard equipment. A dual twin-circuit, four-wheel, disc- braking system provides adequate braking power-actually more than the law prescribes-even if one of the two systems should fail.
    A steel passenger safety cell and computer determined “crush zones" combine to minimize injury, should an accident prove unavoidable.
    Luxury, functional not frivolous.
    While the interior of the average luxury car is decorated by stylists, the interior of the BMW 530i E12 is designed by engineers to prevent driver fatigue.
    All seats have an orthopedically moulded shape.
    All instruments are mounted within the driver’s field of vision.
    All controls are within easy reach.
    I n a time when the concept of the automobile has taken many irrelevant side roads, the BMW is built to be an extraordinary driving machine. A unique harmony, if you will, of performance, safety and comfort.

    And the result? So unusual that #Motor-Trend magazine flatly proclaims BMW to be... unexcelled among the world’s automobiles.” The ultimate driving machine.
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    SPIRIT OF #1977 #BMW-E12 530i RACE CAR

    A wonderful evocation of the #BMW-E12-UFO Five under the spotlight. Phil Perryman’s E12 #BMW-530i-E30 caused quite a stir at Goodwood’s 73rd Members’ Meeting this year – those swirling stripes had everybody hypnotised. We get to grips with 2015’s most colourful tribute act… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photography: Gary Hawkins

    It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.

    A heartfelt tribute is a wonderful thing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the hackneyed old cliché goes, and the world is jam-packed with people and places paying tribute to the things that inspire them. When notable art forgers are arrested, they usually claim that their efforts are in tribute to their creative heroes rather than trying to steal a little of their reflected glory, and you can see the logic of that (even if it’s not always true). The glimmering city of Las Vegas is so enamoured of global architecture that it features its own replica Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and even a little Statue of Liberty. And there’s another Statue of Liberty replica in Kosovo; Thames Town near Shanghai replicates much of London; heck, in Virginia there’s even a copy of Stonehenge made entirely of foam. It’s called, as you might imagine, Foamhenge. A little respectful copying is what keeps creativity vibrant and alive – this sort of behaviour is effectively a dedicated real-world version of clicking Facebook’s ‘like’ button. Wear your influences on your sleeve, that’s the key.

    The car you’re looking at here is a very real embodiment of this train of thought. Its colourful lines seek to evoke the #1977 Luigi Racing #BMW-530i , a brawny Big Six-powered Bavarian bruiser that proudly wore the disco livery of UFO Jeans. UFO was a brand noted for its ostentation and flair – literally, in the case of its galactically broad bell-bottoms – so the swooping stripes of the race car do much to reinforce this corporate ethos. It’s like World War I dazzle camouflage, refracted through the lens of LSD culture.

    The original car was a very notable thing as well, taking copious scalps over a reign of terror that took in much of Europe, pivoting around the team’s Belgian base. It had a long and illustrious racing career, entering the Spa 24 Hours no less than five times and campaigning in the #ETCC in #1977 , #1978 , #1979 , #1980 and #1981 , as well as kicking no small amount of backside on the Belgian Touring Car Championship.

    The livery may not be as iconic and ubiquitous as, say, Jägermeister or #BASF , but to those who remember, this UFO 5 Series was pretty hot stuff. It really seems to mean something at Goodwood too, which is where we first laid eyes on this loving tribute in all its technicolour glory. Indeed, as the 530i’s owner Phil Perryman cheerfully admits, it was the organisers at Goodwood who helped him come up with the livery. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though… if this isn’t the original UFO 530i, what is it? “Well, it’s actually a car that I remember racing against in the early 1990s,” Phil recalls, luxuriating into the tale like a pub raconteur in an old leather armchair. “When Goodwood announced the 72nd Members’ Meeting for 2014, and that it would include a race for 1970s Group 1 cars, I immediately thought of this BMW. I contacted the owner, but unfortunately he refused to sell at that time, and I ended up failing to find a car for that meeting. But by October of last year, the car ended up becoming available to buy, it was offered to me, and I snapped it up! I approached Goodwood, which was very excited about the idea of having such an iconic car on the grid, and the scene was set…”

    It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that Phil is a racer with some pedigree. A few of you will be familiar with his form already, of course, but for the uninitiated, here it is in a dinky little nutshell: He began racing in the 1970s with grasstracking, hot rods on short ovals, all the kinds of motorsport that involve picking flies out your teeth and having a fairly broad view of one’s own mortality. Some karting and a smattering of circuit racing followed through the 1980s, since which time he’s been heavily involved in race car preparation. “I have been building and preparing historic race cars for myself and customers for many years now,” he explains, “including Austin Westminsters, Corvettes, Camaros, Cobras, Capris, Minis, GT40s…” (this list continues for some time – he’s been a very busy man – and we return from sticking the kettle on to catch the tail end of it) “…BMW CSis, CSLs, M5s, and now this E12.” So we can say that he’s a man of manifold talents, both figuratively and literally, and his CV speaks for itself.

    Having a grounding in hands-on motorsport certainly does develop a keen eye for what a race car needs. So, back to this E12. A classic and proven entity, ready for action at Goodwood and all plain sailing, right? Er, no, not quite: “Having purchased a race car and thinking I could just make some modifications and it would all be done, it turned out not to be the case. In fact, the E12 revealed itself to be a very well used and tired old race car – although full of character, there just wasn’t enough performance for Goodwood! After dismantling the thing, it was clear that we would have to do a complete nut-and-bolt rebuild, and this took a full three months of sevendays- a-week and long hours, including Christmas and New Year; all of this was done in-house at Wheelbase by myself and my colleague Paul, who almost lived at the workshop for three months! On completion, we only had time for two shakedowns at Brands Hatch and a test at Goodwood, and this threw up more work as you would expect!” A true labour of love, then, and a mark of the dedication that Phil effervescently pours into his race car builds. He’s like the Terminator – when he’s got a job to do, the world transcends into neon-flashed binary darkness, with targets and goals the only things visible.

    What resulted from this epic slog of all-nighters and tea-stirred-with-oily-spanners was an E12 that’s as straight as an arrow, its trusty Big Six M30 motor accessorising its brawny 3.0-litres of displacement with a big-valve race head, Schrick cams, a modified inlet and tubular exhaust manifold to get the engine acting as a more effective sort of air pump, and a peak power figure of 270hp. Oh, and there’s that jazzy colour scheme, of course…

    “The livery was chosen in conjunction with Goodwood. It’s a car that’s been racing for many years and although it’s white all over, there were bits of red paint around the car in various places, so we decided to recreate the UFO colours. We painted all the red livery with lining tape and spray, copying the design exactly from a photo of the car at Zandvoort in 1977. This was a solid week’s work for two of us!”

    It must have been a lot of fun to draw up, if perhaps a little stressful. In profile, the arcing lines mimic the whorls of a fingerprint, humping up and down like some deranged rollercoaster. The fat stripes offer a beautiful counterpoint to the delicacy of the car’s brightwork and slender window frames, whilst perfectly complementing the high, chunky sidewalls of those Dunlop control tyres. And you can just imagine what an intimidating presence it would create thundering up in your rear-view mirror, jutting sharknose flanked by brutal deckchair bonnet stripes and large-scale ‘UFO’ lettering. It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.

    “The car’s certainly caused a lot of interest!” grins Phil, rightly proud of his colourful creation. “There were pictures in the motoring press even after its first shakedown, and its first race appearance at the 73rd Members’ Meeting this year saw it being a star attraction – we spent most of the weekend talking to enthusiasts about it, and it seemed to dominate the TV coverage!

    “After #Goodwood had sent me the official invite, it offered Emanuele Pirro as a celebrity driver,” he continues. “He’s a very nice man and a fantastic driver, and having worked with him at the previous year’s Members’ Meeting while preparing John Young’s Capri, I jumped at the chance to have him in the car.” We don’t doubt that – having sacrificed so much daylight and human contact in the task of getting the 530i race-ready, it’s a ringing endorsement to have such a big name giving the car a thorough workout for the crowds, particularly given his history in the #ETCC with the #Schnitzer #BMW team.

    It may have been an arduous journey to transform the car from tired old racer to tight-as-a-drum contender in time for its stellar debut in the UFO colours, but the job’s been done with alacrity. And as a tribute to that relentless, unstoppable meisterwerk of 1977? Well, it couldn’t be any better. Luigi would undoubtedly be proud.

    TECH DATA BMW ‘ #BMW-UFO ’ 530i E12 /// #BMW-530i-E12-UFO

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #M30 / #M30B30 3.0-litre straight-six, big-valve race head, #Schrick cams, tubular exhaust manifold, modified inlet, #Getrag gearbox, #ZF limited-slip diff, 3.6:1 ratio. 270hp.

    CHASSIS: 8x15-inch #BBS replicas with 475/1000-15 #Dunlop CR65 control tyres, #GAZ shocks and modified front legs with bespoke springs and valving set up, #Polyflex bushes and rose-joints (to permitted specs), modified anti-roll bars, solid-mount rear subframe, strut brace, adjustable top mounts, #Wilwood front brakes with #Pagid pads and cooling ducting, stock rear brakes.

    EXTERIOR: Stock body, hand-painted recreation #UFON Jeans 1977 livery.

    INTERIOR: Original dash with #Alpina clocks, extra gauge pod with #VDO gauges, original doorcards, full #FIA rollcage, Sparco seat, Sabelt harness.

    THANKS: Paul at Wheelbase for his dedication and hard work with us getting this car ready and competitive in such a short time – without his efforts it would not have got done.
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    Jay Leno
    1979 BMW 528i E12 in flawless.
    Original state - jewellery for men.

    "The colour was at first getting used to - exterior and interior green. We slept one week about it then bought and the car without a test drive."

    The gemstone Amazonite, even Amazon stone called, is a light to dark green Mineral variety of microcline from the mineral class the silicates, more precisely a tectosilicate from the group of feldspars. Well, still awake? But what is really this Wikipedia ramblings? Now, the sparkling paint of here featured 528i goes by the name "Amazonit Green Metallic" and is - as the whole Rest of the car - a classic top-class.

    "My E12 was developed by 1979-1991 in Cuxhaven moved. It came just 40,000 km together. Probably he was from first owner only on weekends moves."

    No question: This gem of Peter Boehm from Hattingen one sees only gladly. That was also the Jurors ADAC so - it voted the 5 Series as part of the Germany Classic 2013, "Concours d'Elegance" winner in the class of vehicles built in 1961 and 1981. They are right, the experts from the General German Automobile Club. Because of this 528i is just awesome. Is it because of his low total mileage of just 63,000 kilometres? To the devotional care by the former and the present Owner? Or the fact that the 5 Series no tuning excesses had to go through? Certainly a mixture of everything. As the BMW was first registered on March 1, 1979 was he the top model of the series, when the M-versions once outside before leaves. Already in February 1978 to be built Predecessor produced 177bhp - the six-cylinder in Peter Boehm 528i makes 184bhp.

    "Actually, I wanted a Fiat Dino or Mercedes-Benz W124 Coupe buy, but the most deals were craft stalls. Since I do not own garage I came in just a little good condition in question."

    Six million 5 Series from Dingolfing On April 16, 2013, a BMW 530d xDrive F10 rolled off the assembly line - the six millionth BMW 5 Series from Dingolfing production. And there was even more celebrate: In September 2013, the BMW Dingolfing plant was 40 years old. 8,727,367 vehicles were running by then from the tapes. The first was a red lacquered BMW 520. At the time, the 5-day production was in Dingolfing at 350 vehicles, the factory employed 5,000 people.

    1973: installation manager Hans Wallner (left) presented CTO Dr. h. c. Hans Koch Key for the first 5 Series "made in Dingolfing ".

    2013: Employees the Dingolfinger Flanking plant one of the first and six millionth 5 Series, both in "Her work" originated.

    "At the International BMW Veterans Reunion in Bad Aibling we are the Wendelstein up. Before the hairpin bends I have the downshifted automatic ZF manually - it does otherwise only, if you are strong gas."

    The history of the #BMW-E12 is a very interesting: He was the first BMW, who among the people came under the name "5 Series". The caused at the beginning of a language problem: The 5 Series, the 520, has not been referred to by many as "Five Twenty", but as "five hundred and twenty." To the BMW-savvy people to bring the correct pronunciation in detail, it was decided be in Munich to the "5" represent slightly larger as the "20". This went on until the beginning of 1974 so, after that wore the 5er again identical large type numbers.

    The 528i was pure understatement. From its weaker motorized brethren the top model differed externally only chrome, dual exhaust tailpipes. The actual difference did the 2788 cc six-cylinder. He turned to the basic versions rather leisurely car into a true-sport sedan.

    Today is the #BMW-528i E12 - almost extinct - in modern state. Our quick check promoted in a mobile portal only 12 copies to days. Of perhaps reach three nearly the quality of Peter Boehm's car. Real Jewels for men are just rare.
    Text: Bernd Bartels. Photos: Ulrich Holzel.

    "We do not drive the car constantly to the low mileage yet over the next save years."
    "The award ceremony by ADAC was a total Surprise. I had been wondering why permanently Jurors to my car ran."

    REPORT FACTS #1979 #BMW-528i-E12

    Engine: R6, Code letter #M30 #M30B28 big-block, 2788cc, overhead camshaft, Bosch electronic fuel Injection
    Power: 184bhp at 5800rpm, 240Nm at 4200rpm
    Transmission: 3-speed automatic transmission #ZF made / #ZF3HP / #ZF3HP22 type
    Suspension: front independent suspension with stabilizer, rear trailing arm axle with stabilizer
    Brakes: disc brakes all round (Series)
    Rims: 14 inches #BMW aluminium Rims
    Tyres: Fulda ASSURO, around 195/40 R14
    Body: four-door sedan in its original condition,
    Paint in "Amazonit Green Metallic"
    Interior: original interior in "Fern Green ", Bavaria S Radio, green sun protection glazing, central locking.
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    GREED IS GOOD #BMW-Alpina-B7-Turbo-E28 vs. #BMW-M5-E28 #Hartge-E28

    In the 1980s many people had money to burn, and it is thanks to them #Alpina and #Hartge found a ready market for their wild Fives. Words: Bob Harper. Pictures: James Mann.

    Back in the 1980s economies were booming and there were plenty of well heeled individuals who were prepared to pay handsomely for something a little bit more exclusive than your standard #BMW . Although the original #BMW-M5 was not a run-of the mill machine, both Alpina and Hartge offered alternatives which were snapped up by rich businessmen after an individual touch. Given the excellence of BMW's own product, could it be two small but dedicated manufacturers could actually improve on the M5?

    But why is the M5 such an all time great? Firstly it has the sort of performance which in its day was simply staggering. This was the first of the real supersaloons from a major manufacturer, and it can still embarrass many of today's high performance machines.

    Secondly, it handled The #E28 5 Series was often criticised for its wayward behaviour - it was not unknown for the front and rear ends to swap positions without much provocation, and while Munich's M-men were unable to completely eradicate this behaviour, its handling was fantastic. Only a ham fisted pilot would lose an M5. such was its communicative nature.

    Alpina had actually been producing faster fives for longer than #BMW itself.

    The #E12 #M535i was BMWs first attempt at a really quick saloon and was introduced in 1980 to very favourable review. Alpina, however, had had a devastating quick #BMW-5-Series in its armoury since 1978, the E12 B7 Tuftx), which featured a 3-litre turbocharged straight-six.

    Thus when the #BMW-E12 evolved into the #BMW-E28 5 Series, it was a logical progression on Alpina's part to re-manufacture it into a second generation of fire- breathing saloons. The #BMW-E28-Alpina B7 Turbo utilised the latest generation of BMW's big six with a swept volume of 3430cc, but with significant internal changes. There was a modified cylinder head, lighter #Mahle pistons, a new camshaft, a custom exhaust manifold and a #KKK #KKK-K27 turbocharger. Power was quoted as 300bhp at 5800rpm, 14bhp more than the yet to arrive twin-cam engined M5, while torque was way up on the M-car, 331lb ft at 3000rpm, compared to 250lb ft at 4500rpm for the M5.

    It should therefore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest, I66mph compared to 150mph, and a quoted 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds, compared to the M5's 6.3 seconds. Strangely, very few contemporary motoring magazines tested the Alpina, but the Swedish magazine Teknikens Varfd did strap a fifth wheel to the car, and the figures it achieved makes Alpina's own look somewhat conservative: 0-62mph in £.8 seconds, 0-125mph in 17 seconds and a top speed of 168mph. Even the new M5 struggles to match these results.

    Naturally this level of performance demanded changes in the suspension and braking departments, as well as the fitment of Alpina’s trademark multispoke wheel rims. The suspension featured #Bilstein gas pressure dampers with progressive rate springs, while the brakes were upgraded with #Girling discs, ventilated at the front. Sixteen-inch wheels were shod with 205/55 tyres at the front, and 225/50s at the rear.

    Like other Alpina's, the interior was upgraded with extra instruments, including the company's neat digital readout incorporated into one of the fresh air vents, as well as the trademark green and blue flash on the seats. The steering wheel and gearknob were substituted for Alpina items, and an adjustable boost control was mounted on the centre console next to the handbrake. Externally, there was to be no mistaking the B7 Turbo for a lesser model, its spoilers and decal kit saw to that.

    If the Alpina wore its heart on its sleeve, the Hartge M5 was externally more muted, but that's not to say it was any less impressive. Like Alpina. Hartge had been remanufacturing 5 Series’ for a number of years before it released its ultimate version. Poor to the release of the M5, it too concentrated on the 3430cc unit, modifying the head, fitting a special camshaft and manifold, as well as adding a freer flowing exhaust system. These changes improved both power and torque, to rival Alpina's nonturbo charged B9 3.5 litre models.

    However, unlike Alpina, who always concentrated on the 12-valve units, Hartge decided to base its ultimate 5 Series on the M5. Thus BMW's twin-cam 24 valve 3453cc masterpiece was breathed on by Hartge to produce 330bhp, up from the original's 286bhp. This was achieved mainly via the use of high-lift camshafts and a special exhaust, and the conversion sacrificed torque in the quest for ultimate power.

    Naturally Hartge upgraded the suspension to include stiffer dampers and lowered springs, dropping the car by approximately 25mm. The chassis was further tightened with the adoption of a strut brace between the front suspension turrets, and a set of 16-inch #Hartge classic wheels wearing 225/50 rubber at the front and 245/45 at the rear completed the basic conversion.

    Where Alpina produced a standard car with an options list, Hartge's approach was slightly more flexible. There was the basic conversion, and customers could stop there if they wanted. However, you could add front and rear spoilers to improve high speed stability, a decal set to announce that this was no ordinary M5, and the interior could be fitted with a variety of enhancements from steering wheels and gearknobs to extra instruments.

    Unfortunately, no motoring magazine tested a Hartge M5, but with 330bhp it was no slouch and you can expect the benchmark 0-60 dash to be dispensed with quicker than BMW's standard offering, while top speed was also improved.

    But enough of the history, how do the cars compare today? To find out we took a #1984 #Alpina-B7-Turbo and pitched it against a remarkably standard looking #1987 Hartge M5. The Alpina shows its intent straightaway with its deep front air dam and stripes leaving you with no illusions that this is going to be a quick car. The Hartge on the other hand is far more discrete, and, as 'our' car was entirely debadged, a quick glance could easily mistake it for a 518i on a tasty set of alloys, one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.

    Despite the different methods employed to achieve their power outputs we expected both cars to behave in a similar manner - all or nothing. The Alpina has massive reserves of torque, but below 3000rm when the turbocharger has yet to spin in anger we thought it would be flat in the extreme. Similarly, the high lift cams of the Hartge should produce low rev lethargy with high-end frenzy.

    In reality things were quite different Put quite simply, the performance of the Alpina is awesome. At low revs it feels quicker than say an M535i, but when the turbocharger kicks in it really does force you back into your seat as if you were strapped into a jet fighter at take off. You find yourself constantly slewing down, just so you can speed up again to provide yourself with another adrenaline buzz.

    The Hartge delivers in a different manner. This particular car has had some changes made to its engine management control unit to eradicate a flat spot at around 2000rpm and to provide more midrange torque, and it is estimated it now has in the region of 280lb ft at one's disposal. Where a standard M5 takes time to get going, the Hartge flies from the word go.

    There is no noticeably step in its delivery, with the rev counter needle simply flying round to its redline, allowing you to repeat the process in the next gear. On first acquaintance it doesn't have the immediate kick of the Alpina, but a quick glance at the speedo reveals it to deceptively quick. The only drawback is its real urge comes at the sort of speeds where the authorities tear up your licence and throw away the key.

    Subjectively, the Alpina feels the quicker car in a straight line, but once some challenging bends are thrown into the equation, the tables start to turn in the Hartge's favour. This is in part due to its lower stance and more overtly sporting set up. Like the standard M5, the steering is wonderfully communicative, providing plenty of feel and feedback, allowing the car to be precisely placed in bends. Crip is of the highest order, better than both the Alpina and the original M5. The linear nature of the car’s power delivery also helps to inspire confidence when pressing on, as you know it is not going to suddenly come on cam mid bend.

    In a straight line the Alpina's power delivery is its trump card, but when it comes to cornering it becomes the car's Achilles heel, particularly on a damp road It is not wayward in its behaviour, but you have to make sure you don’t make the transition from no boost to full boost mid-bend. The steering is direct and has a meaty feel to it, partially the result of having a smaller diameter wheel. It is by no means as stiffly sprung as the Hartge, so there is a lot more bodyroll to accompany spirited comenng. It grips well enough, but is not as composed as the Hartge.

    Once again, the tables are turned when it comes to ride quality. The Hartge has a much firmer ride, which deteriorates quite markedly on poorly surfaced B-roads. On smooth roads it is fine, but passengers are likely to complain if you take to the back roads. The #Alpina is a more comfortable companion in terms of ride, a payback for its less than perfect cornering manners.

    While much of what came out of the 1980s should be confined to the history books, we have to say we are delighted that the decade's culture of greed prompted such fine machinery as the Hartge M5 and the Alpina B7 Turbo.
    As a complete package, the Hartge is hard to beat. It has staggering performance, excellent grip and its handling inspires confidence. The Alpina is slightly rougher round the edges; its power delivery could certainly catch out the unwary, but despite this flaw its spoilers and stripes sum up the era better than the discrete Hartge. Of the two cars, it is the one that lingers in our minds. The B7 Turbo's performance is addictive and as we handed back the keys we knew withdrawal would be painful.

    It should there-fore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest

    Hartge utilise M5 standard gearbox... while Alpina uses a dog-leg #Getrag box.
    No badge makes #BMW-E28-Hartge a real Q car .
    At least you know what passed you.
    No one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.
    Two variations on a theme. Turbo or multi-valve #M88 or #M30 . Both offer huge performance. #BMW-M5-Hartge-E28
    Neat digital readout shows boost pressure and temperature.
    The Left-hand drive only Alpine's cockpit typical of the era.
    Classic, simple 16-inch rims. Hartge-version on the left. Alpina's on the right.
    Hartge interior is more sober, but M5 spec is comprehensive.
    The Alpina's looks leave you in no doubt this is a serious performance machine.
    Hartge’s lower stance ensures excellent grip and inspired handling.

    #E28 #BMW-M5 - #Alpina-B7-Turbo - #Hartge-M5

    Engine 24 valve - 12 valve, Turbocharged, - 24 valve
    Capacity 3453cc - 3430cc - 3453cc
    Stroke/bore 84x93.4mm - 88x92mm - 84x93.4mm
    Power 285hp @ 6500rpm - 300bhp @ 5800pm - 330bhp @ 7000rpm
    Torque 250lb ft @ 4500rpm - 331lb ft @ 3300rpm - 280lb ft @ 3600rpm

    front 225/50 ZR16 - 205/55 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16
    rear 225/50 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16 - 245/45 ZR16

    Maximum speed - 153mph - 167mph - 160mph (est)
    0-62mph 6.3 seconds – 4.8 seconds – 5.5 seconds (est)
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    Bob BMW
    South African Special Taking a look at the #BMW-E12/8 #M535i , a rare model unique to the South African market. Just when you thought you knew all about the unique South African #BMW models another one comes to light, the unusual E12/8 M535i Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.

    Internally known as ‘model 4709’ this hybrid #BMW-E12 M535i comprised E28 components before the E28 was even manufactured in South Africa. Sounds like going back to the future. Today the word hybrid is all too common in motoring diction. In #1982 it was almost unheard of in motoring circles, but what we see in front of us today is exactly that: a hybrid. Was the #BMW-M535i-E12 the first mass offering by BMW’s M Division? In a word, no. That honour was reserved for another South African special: the #BMW-530MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition). Regular readers will be familiar with the four models unique to South Africa as documented by then deputy editor Sebastian de Latour on his visit to South Africa in 2012. During the ‘70s and ‘80s, the height of the Apartheid era in South Africa where world isolation was the order of the day, BMW South Africa was producing some of its most sought-after models.

    How and where did BMW get a foothold in a country positioned on the southern tip of Africa? Like in all corners of the world immigrants bring along their culture to the new frontier they settle in and South Africa is no different. A German immigrant was so attached to his motorcycle he brought it with him to South Africa and so it became the first BMW vehicle to land on South African shores, in 1928.

    Another German, #Gunter-Ludwig , started a small garage in 1931 named Club Garage, which later went on to become Club Motors. In 1932 Gunter acquired the rights to become the sole importer of BMW motorcycles to South Africa. By the late 1950s Club Motors imported the first BMW car, the Isetta, and continued to import a range of BMW vehicles until 1968. Club Motors would go on to become one of the biggest independently owned BMW dealerships in South Africa. So what has all this to do with the E12 M535i? Indulge us, if you will, and let us elaborate briefly on how South Africa started a trend of developing unique BMW models.

    In the mid-’60s BMW was firmly on the mend; expansion was on the cards, and it set its sights on acquiring the Glas factory in Dingolfing which had been hit by financial difficulties. Glas was relatively well-known for its Goggomobil, somewhat of a rival to the Isetta. The sexiest thing to leave the Glas production-line was arguably the 1700GT designed by Italian Pietro Frua which BMW continued to produce for a short stint as the 1600GT. Glas also produced a 1700 Saloon (also penned by the Frua design studio in Turin) which would have been in direct competition to BMW’s 1800.

    And so with the constellations aligned a path was set in motion in 1968 whereby Pretoria businessman Hannes Pretorius, together with Gunter Ludwig (of Club Motors), his son and several other shareholders formed Euro-Republic Automobile Distributors (Pty) Ltd. This is the very company that would assemble the Glas-bodied 1700 into the 1800 SA and 2000 SA under license at the Rosslyn plant just outside Pretoria. BMW AG shipped the four-door bodies and tooling it inherited from the Glas outfit to Rosslyn where they were fitted with the M10 1773cc and 1990cc motors. Brazil was the only other country in the southern hemisphere that these cars were exported to. In 1972 BMW AG took complete ownership of Euro-Republic Automobile Distributors (Pty) Ltd which became a subsidiary of the German company, by which time the operation was also assembling the larger E3 2500 and 2800 saloons, followed eventually by the 3.0S.

    In 1974 the SA models were updated (by raiding the parts-bin of other models) and brought closer inline with the look of BMW models of the time. The taillights from the E12 were installed upside down, the front received the grille from the E3 and front indicators from the E9 Coupés. At last, sporting the BMW kidney in the centre of the grille, these models were renamed the 1804 and 2004.

    Talk about hybrids! After it took complete ownership, BMW AG invested 9 million Rand (approximately £5.6 million) on tooling and assembly setup for the E12 5 Series which was launched in South Africa in 1974, two years after it had made its European debut.

    In 1972 BMW was brimming with excitement as it was in the final stages of constructing its four-cylinder headquarters and BMW Museum in Munich, a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Park where Germany hosted the 1972 Olympics. It also launched the E12 5 Series, named as such either because it happened to be the fifth in the range of the Neue Klasse or because it fitted in the middle slot in the new range/series… you decide! The Five was, however, the car that started the naming ‘Series’; penned by Paul Bracq with more rounded edges, a sloping rear and front indicators integrated into the bumper. It definitely was a more modern automobile, with a more driver-focused instrument layout; it consisted of a safety cell, reinforced sills and strengthened frontal structure. The introduction of the E12 5 Series, however, made BMW less of an exotic and more of a mainstream car manufacturer.

    One can’t possibly talk about the South African M535i without mentioning the 530 MLE, developed as a homologation special in South Africa to go racing in. The initial production figure was 100 but demand was such that over 200 were produced. This is truly the first car to make it out of the M stable – even relying on Schnitzer expertise with the development. The 530 MLE is probably the most significant of the unique BMWs produced in South Africa, a race car offered in race trim to the road-going motorist – designed for the track and sold to the public in order to qualify to go racing. It is the closest BMW came to producing a track car for public roads prior to the M3.

    It would also have a consequential outcome on the development of the #BMW-M535i . Let’s make a very brief acquaintance. Exterior: deep front spoiler and boot spoiler, made of fibreglass with extended wheel arches. M tricolour stripes adorned the shoulder of the car as well as the front and rear spoilers. Lightweight construction: body fabricated from aluminium and lighter gauge steel, drilled boot hinges and foot pedals. Interior: Scheel front bucket seats, foam base rear-bench and special Motor Sport steering. Engine: #M30 3.0-litre overhead cam motor tweaked by Schnitzer, with twin Zenith down-draught carburetors, special cam, competition flywheel plus an engine oil cooler. Running gear: close-ratio five-speed dog-leg ‘box with a limited-slip diff, Bilstein dampers, stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars. This all resulted in the MLE achieving 197hp at 6000rpm and 204lb ft of torque at 4300rpm.

    The 530 MLE achieved tremendous success on the track in South Africa over a short racing career but it was the most successful E12 racer in the world and in no small part thanks to Eddie Keizan and Paddy Driver behind the wheel. In his book, Unbeatable BMW Jeremy Walton attributed these cars as the closest to a works 5 Series BMW achieved in a road car. Sebastian de Latour did a feature on a replica 530 racer in the 2011 September issue of BMW Car and as part of his South African trip did a full feature on the 530 MLE in the 2013 March issue of BMW Car.

    After the 200 odd 530 MLEs sold, BMW SA continued to produce the 530 as the flagship in the 5 Series range. These cars, however, were far removed from the homologation special, still sporting a 3.0-litre M30 motor. They had little in common with the original and were really just sporting luxury saloons. It is significant to look at the M535i when it was launched in Europe as the car that was introduced in South Africa two years later was slightly different. At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1979 BMW unveiled for the first time a car that would be mass produced that would wear the Motorsport badge. The E12 M535i was available in European markets from 1979 to the end of May 1981 with a total of 1410 being made, of which 450 were right-hand drive.

    The engine was the same unit used in the E24 635CSi which had been developed from the in-line six-cylinder found in the Batmobile and closely linked to the #M88 motor which powered the M1 supercar. The 3453cc engine has a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm with a SOHC iron-block using Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection resulting in 218hp at 5200rpm and 224lb ft of torque at 4000rpm. The suspension geometry was similar to that of a regular Five with Macpherson struts in the front and semitrailing arms in the rear. The M division did, however, provide uprated springs with Bilstein dampers. Brakes comprised the standard four-pot brake callipers but with 3mm thicker ventilated discs up front. To put the power down a five-speed close-ratio Getrag gearbox with a limited-slip differential was fitted.

    What really got pulses racing were the embellishments: the deep colour-coded air dam, a chunky rubber boot spoiler, and BBS 6.5x14-inch cross-spoke alloys. Ice white cars got the tricolour BMW Motorsport stripes running down the side (by now made famous by the 2002 Turbo). In keeping with the sports theme Recaro Sports seats and an M1 steering were also on offer.

    You could, however, order a sleeper devoid of the trimmings which even meant excluding the M badges. The M535i was the fastest Saloon car on the planet, a trend which BMW still tries to uphold today with the Five. At the time it was good for 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 138mph.

    The South African M535i was launched in 1981, two years after the European version. It was to be the replacement for the more civilised 530 that had been sold after the departure of the MLE. The South African M535i was not offered with the front air dam, rear spoiler or M tricolour stripes of the European model, which was pretty strange given that just a few years earlier BMW SA had offered the 530 MLE race car as a road-legal vehicle with all the fireworks including the war-paint to anyone with the right amount of cash. The MLE literally paved the way for the M535i, demonstrating what could be done with a big block six-cylinder in a medium-sized saloon. BMW SA also did not see the need on launch to offer the close-ratio gearbox, instead a normal H-pattern ’box with overdrive was fitted.

    Other than that it pretty much was standard fare, on the outside with just the usual smattering of M badges. Also standard were the 7x14-inch #BBS crossspoke alloy wheels with the centre caps bearing the BMW Motorsport logo.

    Underneath it again had the M30 3453cc engine with #Bosch-L-Jetronic injection, strengthened stabiliser bars front and rear with Bilstein gas dampers and a ZF 25 per cent limited-slip diff. On the inside there were Sports Recaro seats, an M1 steering, a Pioneer radio/tape deck with amp (European markets mostly got Blaupunkt), electric windows, air-con, electric mirrors, power-steering and central-locking all as standard. An electric steel sunroof was a cost option. The M535i produced 218hp (160kW) at 5200rpm and 228lb ft (310Nm) at 4000rpm and was good for 138mph (222km/h) at the top end. Wheels magazine compared it to a Porsche 928 and Car magazine in South Africa had the following to say: “The new M535i is difficult to categorise. It’s not a pure sports sedan like the 530, nor is it pure luxury car. To some extent it combines the best elements of both to produce a really fast car with a high standard of comfort and equipment.”

    While the rest of the world in 1982 was gearing up to become acquainted with the E28 5 Series, South Africa continued with its hybrid philosophy. With manufacturing volumes too low and retooling deemed too expensive the entire E12 5 Series model range received instead the new E28 5 Series dashboard (which became known as the E12/8) and fuel-injection also became standard across the range. With the new E28 dash the cockpit inside the M535i definitely became more driver- centric with the instrument cluster and controls focused on the driver. New technological marvels were introduced equipping the car with a service interval indicator, fuel consumption indicator, and active check control above the rear view mirror in a padded safety panel – checking seven key functions.

    Unfortunately, the South African M535i was once again deprived of the M aero-kit but for the first time the close-ratio Getrag five-speed dog-leg ‘box was available as a free option. Both gearboxes (five-speed overdrive) were paired with a taller 3.07:1 final drive. The M535i also had a unique set of tyres and wheels: metric-sized 165x390mm alloy wheels, as used on some European E28s fitted with 200/60VR390 #Michelin-TRX tyres. When Car magazine South Africa tested it, it concluded: “It’s a great car – developed specially by the Motor Sport Division of BMW A.G. for the motorist who wants exceptional performance in a luxury sedan.” Only 1416 examples of the Model 4709 E12 M535i hybrid were assembled in South Africa until production ended in December 1984. It was then replaced by the E28 M535i in January 1985.

    Enough with the #BMW-SA history lesson, let’s get acquainted with this M hybrid. It’s hard to believe that the M535i in front of us is 33 years old and yet this is a very honest car that gets driven regularly. It is definitely no show queen; the odometer shows 110,203 miles (177,355km). One definitely gets the sense that BMW’s philosophy at the time was to build cars that would stand the test of time. The Polaris silver paint works well with the chrome accents. The #Alpina shovel-spoiler in the front suits the car much better than the standard air dam that was fitted to European models as the lines are just so much cleaner and sharper. Step to the back and the spoiler found on the boot is also from Alpina. It’s smaller in size than the M article and again cleaner, in my opinion. Sometimes less is more. The stance is perfect thanks to a set of BBS cross-spoke rims 7x16 inches in the front and 8x16 inches at the rear as found on the E23 745i. It is rounded off with ContiPremiumContact 2 rubber (205/55R16 in the front and 225/50R16 at the rear) which fills the arches nicely. As I open the door I am transported back to my youth, the E12 is the very reason for my fascination with BMW. I remember there was a car that I drooled over almost every day. I could not miss it as it was on my way home from school. It was a Petrol blue E12 528i. A few years later a friend bought an E12 M535i in Henna red. It was my first experience with a dog-leg ’box, it went like a bat from hell. Then being inside the M535i was like being inside the Starship Enterprise, with an orange glow from the instrument binnacle and the red lights from the check control. Such fond memories!

    Once inside I am completely gobsmacked; it is immaculate. There is not a crack or a blemish on the dash, it virtually looks new. The Recaros, covered in Marine blue velour, do not even have a scuff. The M gear lever perfect and the biggest show piece has to be the four-spoke Alpina Sports steering.

    One turn of the key and the engine sparks to life and in true BMW fashion of cars of this era it quickly settles down into a big block six-cylinder hum. I find these dog-leg boxes still tricky today and the clutch is quite heavy. Drop the clutch and flatten the loud pedal and, exactly as I remember, the M535i squats down on its haunches and the nose reaches for the stratosphere. The exhaust lets off a mechanical growl that’s much different to BMWs of today. This car still feels quick today. Then again it only weighs 1465kg.

    The ride is compliant but the trade-off is the body-roll, which is more prevalent than in more modern Bavarian metal. Turn-in is good but not sharp as it relies on a recirculating ball setup but this car feels as solid as when it was new. The fit and finish is perfect. There are no rattles or vibrations. The four-pot brake callipers make easy work of dissipating high speeds and the Bilsteins ensure the wheels stay planted. The owner of the M535i, Shaun Sing, is a BMW Master Technician who started Tune Tech 20 years ago. It’s one of the most reputable independent BMW workshops in South Africa. Tune Tech not only services BMW products it does tuning and performance upgrades and builds race cars. Strangely enough Shaun qualified as an aircraft mechanic but found BMW far more appealing and in 1987 joined the Stuart Bromfield BMW dealership. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Ten years ago the original owner brought the car into Tune Tech to have the brakes looked at. Shaun somehow convinced him to part with this rarity. Shaun received the car with all the books/manuals, including the original brochure and a file with all the receipts for work that had been carried out. Since then very little has been done except that the fuel tank has been replaced, as well as all four headlamps, and the Bilsteins have been refurbished. Thankfully Shaun also removed the foglights, got the front spoiler and rear spoiler from Alpina, fitted the Alpina steering and the 745i BBS rims – all cosmetic enhancements that really set off this magnificent piece of South African motoring history.

    BMW set the trend for building the fastest Saloon cars in the world and the M535i really is the benchmark from where it all started. The BMW Rosslyn plant continued to build a variety of BMWs which included the E28 M5 and E34 M5, which was also the last in the 5 Series range made at the plant. Today Rosslyn is referred to as plant nine in BMW’s global hierarchy and only manufactures the F30 3 Series Saloon, 330 a day or one every four minutes; 85 percent of production is shipped to about ten markets worldwide. It’s a far cry from the days of the E12/8 M535i.


    Ron Silke and Ulrich Thieme of

    The M535i was the fastest Saloon car on the planet, a trend which BMW still tries to uphold today with the Five.

    These three cars above can be viewed as the forefathers of the ‘South African Special’. The white car at the top is a 2000 SA which was built in South Africa using the shell of a Glas 1700 with BMW mechanicals. (This particular example hails from Rhodesia and was originally known as a Cheetah). The green machine is a post 1974 2000 SA with a BMW grille and upside down E12 rear lights while the E12 below it was the 530 MLE – a locally built homologation special.
    Drop the clutch and flatten the loud pedal and the M535i squats down on its haunches and the nose reaches for the stratosphere.
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