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    The E24 6 Series is a masterpiece of classic design and one that with a just a few mods becomes something special. This classic CSi isn’t the sort of shark that’ll rip your leg off without hesitation or warning – it’s a mellow, low-and-slow cruiser. Although with 200hp-odd from the factory, you’d still do well to keep an eye on it… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Henry Phull.

    “BMWs are in my blood,” says Henry Phull, as he nonchalantly rumbles to a halt before the photographer’s lens in his shimmering retro sharknose. This, of course, sets alarm bells ringing – you know what happens when you mix sharks with the suggestion of blood, you’ve seen Jaws. We step back cautiously and allow him to elaborate: “My dad had numerous Beemers when I was growing up, the most notable being an E24 M635CSi in red – that was his favourite car, and I’ve wanted a sharknose of my own ever since.”

    It’s a story oft-told, the my-dad-had-one-of- those aspiration, and it’s played beautifully into Henry’s hands as he strategised the long game. Starting out his driving career in an Audi runabout before graduating to an E34 525i, the stepping stones were inexorably leading him toward an old-skool 6 Series… although when it happened, it came out of left-field, as it turned out that the lure of the E34 5 Series distracted him somewhat. “I just fell in love with the noise and the leather of the 525i,” he grins, “and after that I had a V8 530i, with both cars receiving Throwing Stars, coilovers and M5 interiors. I was then on the hunt for a 540i – and I test drove a few which turned out to be lemons – when a 635CSi turned up at the right price, in the right place at the right time…”

    This move of celestial serendipity was enough to jolt Henry’s childhood dreams back on track. Receiving a message from a friend saying that a mate of theirs in the motor trade had just taken in an E24 in partexchange was enough to prick Henry’s ears up. He called the seller in question, who turned out to be vague on the details and sent over some low-quality photos of the car. Not a lot to go on, there – but it had one key hook: “It was white!” says Henry, triumphantly. “A white 635CSi is an uncommon sight, so I was interested.”

    From there on in the whole thing was inevitable, really. The cherry on the cake was that the vendor was planning to put it into his bodyshop to freshen up the front wings and sort out any rust the car may have, and this – combined with the low, low price (undisclosed here, but undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime deal) – was enough to twist Henry’s arm. Although to be fair, it was already pretty much twisted. The chance to own the car of his childhood dreams? Yeah, you’d have been right in there too.

    “I told him I would go up and view the car as soon as it was out of the paint shop,” he recalls. “A week later I made my way to Basingstoke to take a closer look. On first inspection the car was dirty and tatty, like it was in the photos I’d seen previously, but the paint was decent and they’d done a good job on the wings. It needed a few niggly things sorting; the floor was wet, the windows didn’t work properly, the indicators didn’t work, the engine had a couple of oil leaks and sounded tappy… but I decided that the car was being sold to me so cheap, it was worth the risk, and I could break it for more than I paid for it if the car turned out to be bad.” With no prior experience of owning M30-engined cars, this was something of a step into the unknown for Henry, but it represented more of the good sort of fear that you get from, say, rollercoasters than the bad fear you associate with axe murderers and PPI cold calls. And so a deal was struck.

    Such was the thrall in which the E24 held Henry that he kept it completely bone-stock for a year before any thoughts of modifying crossed his bows. But inevitably the dark thoughts crept in, as they’re always prone to do, and he found himself bolting on a set of Throwing Stars (hey, stick with what you know…) and chopping a few coils off the springs. Appearances at a few shows yielded universal praise, although at this stage he was focusing more on maintenance than modification. But with the car mechanically tip-top and aesthetically up-to-scratch, it was time to do things properly.

    “I’d always fancied split-rims, and this was the car that finally pushed me to do it,” he says. “I’d always gone with OEM+ wheels before, but I found myself scanning the internet, looking for the right splits.” He’d already decided that they had to be 17s or 18s, and initially favoured a mesh design that would evoke the CSi’s original metric wheels. But then a set of OZ Futuras popped up on Stanceworks and changed all of that.

    “They were up for sale in Germany, and it was a bit of a scary purchase as they were used and I would never know the true condition of them until they arrived,” he recalls with a grimace. “I wasn’t even after this sort of wheel design but this set had gold centres; gold on a white car was what I wanted. It’s just so period-correct. A quick photoshop later and it was clear that they would look amazing!”

    The specs were aggressive and Henry found that the judicious use of spacers would push them right into the arch lips in fine style. The next inevitable quandary, of course, was how to lower the thing…

    This was a weighty decision indeed, with Henry having recently devoted himself full time to Slam Sanctuary, the site he founded to showcase badass low-down rides. He had to walk the walk, right? But at the same time there was a tight budget to consider – going it alone employment-wise is a financial tightrope. This was the initial impetus that swayed him away from air-ride and toward rolling static, although we all know that this is more than a cost-based decision; air vs coilies is a lifestyle thing. They both have their merits, but it’s down to how you use your car and what sort of character you want to give it.

    A long chat with SS Autowerks resulted in a set of well-priced BC Racing coilovers winging their way to him, in drool-worthy Extra Low flavour with custom spring rates. To complement this new attitude to altitude, SSA also threw some engine raisers to get the M30 20mm further from the Tarmac which, brilliantly, raise the base of the sump above the subframe, so the car doesn’t even need a sump guard. Who says static rides are all oily heartache and tow trucks?

    The vagaries and mechanical complexities of the E24 (shall we just call it quality engineering?) meant that the fitment of coilovers wasn’t a walk in the park, so Henry entrusted the job to the irrepressible Paul of Coltech Classics, who set about ripping out the MacPherson strut setup and welding the Extra Low units to the hubs.

    “Paul said the BCs were a dream to work with,” Henry enthuses. “We couldn’t believe how low they allowed the car to run while maintaining drivability, I’d recommend them to anyone with an E24.”

    The nature of Henry’s sloped driveway meant that the centre exhaust box was catching with these new-found lows, which gave him the excuse to rip the thing off and replace it with straight-through pipes – a nifty little fringe benefit – while some trimming of the rear arches was the final job Paul needed to carry out in order to make the thing day-to-day streetable.

    And that, in a nutshell, was the realisation of Henry’s boyhood dream. You’ll note that the car’s exterior remains resolutely unmodified – “Why alter the body of an already beautiful car?” he reasons – and much the same is true of the factory interior, save from the addition of an MTech I steering wheel. This is textbook ‘stop, drop and roll’ stuff, and it’s all the better for it.

    “The first show I took it to with the new look was the Players Classic, and the attention it received was just on another level,” he grins. “And then the BMW Festival at Gaydon… people were constantly asking me if it was bagged, which just goes to show what the right sort of coilovers can achieve.” Such is the menace of the bona fide shark; you don’t need to be flash – you just have to bare your teeth.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #BMW / #OZ

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #BMW-M30 / #M30 , engine raisers, centre exhaust silencer removed, four-speed auto / #ZF4HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” ET13 (front) and 10x17” ET19 (rear) #OZ-Futura wheels with 25mm (front) and 30mm (rear) spacers and 205/45 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing Extra Low Type RA coilovers with custom spring rates

    EXTERIOR Stock

    INTERIOR Stock with full factory leather, M Tech 1 steering wheel

    THANKS Paul at Coltech Classics for going the extra mile to lower the car, Nick and Alex at SS Autowerks for supplying BC coilovers and engine raisers, Tom Etheridge for servicing and helping to maintain the car in his spare time, Paul at MVT Poole for general maintenance and always sorting me out at the last minute whenever there’s an issue, Simon and Nathan at The Wheel Specialist Bournemouth for assisting with fitment and tyres. Last but not least, my parents for letting me park the car in their garage!

    “The attention it received was on another level!”
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    Super Seven. The ultimate original #BMW-7-Series was this stunning M-powered 745i. / #BMW / #BMW-M7-E23 /

    Fairy Tale. The ultimate E23 Seven was the M-power 745i and we discover one man’s dream of owning one.

    An epic journey over four continents! From riches to rags and back again! Sounds like some kind of Hollywood blockbuster, right? Nope, this is the tale of Josh Barlowe’s 745i – a model with a unique story before it even left the factory! Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.

    The E23 745i was the only version of the 7 Series that sported a genuine M engine, in this case the 24-valve M88 ’six as used in the contemporary E28 M5 and E24 M635CSi.

    South African 745is generally had very high-spec interiors with every surface seemingly swathed in leather.

    “I said I’d take it off his hands for $13,000, to which he said yes!”

    Built in South Africa from 1984 to 1987, the M-powered 745i was a response to Johannesburg’s complaints that the German-built 745i that was available in Europe was not available in right-hand drive due to the turbo’s location. Munich’s solution? Swap in the M1’s M88/3 ‘six and send complete knock down (CKD) kits to Rosslyn, South Africa for assembly. The result was a luxury saloon, complete with memory seats, trip computer, climate control and, amazingly, pop-up cassette tape holders in the driver’s door, but with a supercar heart…

    …And a supercar price. Costing more than a Ferrari 308 GTB, the sticker may have been one reason why only 192 were built in automatic, with a further 17 in manual. One of those manuals actually raced in the South African Modified Saloon Car Championship, becoming the only 7 Series ever officially used in motorsport, while one of those 192 autos – the car you can see here – ended up in Josh Barlowe’s hands in Melbourne, Australia, albeit via a trip to Nottingham and Hong Kong.

    Barlowe says that after starting life in South Africa, the car apparently made its way to the UK; a sticker suggested someone bought it from Siddons of Nottingham. Then, as 745i owners tended to be quite wealthy, it was presumably shipped with the owners to Hong Kong. Sadly, at some point the love affair soured, as it was discovered decades later in a junkyard. Barlowe says the merchants who found both his and another 745i in the same yard purchased them for HK$400 a pop (£35 in today’s money!) and sent Barlowe’s to Australia, where it found its way into the hands of its previous owner: a mechanical engineer from Cooma, New South Wales who coaxed it back to life.

    It’s here that Barlowe’s role in the story begins. In late 1999, he was flicking through his E23 735i owner’s manual when he saw references to the turbocharged 745i. Sadly, after consulting his friends at Brighton BMW, he learned its left-hand drive spec meant almost zero chance of getting one in Australia. However, one of the parts managers then mentioned the M-Power 745i and directed Barlowe to Peninsula BM, the owner of which was into 7 Series.

    “The conversation I had with the owner there revealed he knew someone with an M745i in the LaTrobe Valley,” says Barlowe. Having introduced himself to the elderly owners, Norm and Faye, and spoken of his interest in it, the pair kindly invited Barlowe to lunch and, later, Barlowe got to experience the car’s prowess. “Norm took me for a spin on the back roads and let it open,” he continues. “We got in excess of 240km/h. I said, ‘where do you get one of these things?!’ Luckily, Norm happened to know of one in Cooma and said he and his wife could go and check it out, seeing as they were headed up that way anyway.” They reported it wasn’t in great condition but given its rarity and desirability, Barlowe decided to press on anyway. Initially, though, things didn’t go well. The owner wasn’t sure about Barlowe and wanted $30,000. Then the promised photos didn’t turn up.

    However, a few months later, Barlowe’s luck changed. “I remember it quite clearly, he says. “On March 24, 2000, I had an accident in my existing E23 735i and the car got written off. Strangely enough, the following Monday, I got a call from the 745i’s owner asking if I was still interested in his car!”

    With serendipity having smiled upon him once, Barlowe received another pleasant surprise when he found out the owner was selling it cheap due to a divorce: “We talked figures around $22,000 which I thought quite reasonable.” However, Barlowe could only afford $18,000 and after a couple of months of negotiations he eventually got his way, flying up to nearby Canberra after settling on $18,000 and encouraged by the pictures (which finally arrived) that suggested everything was actually okay.

    Of course, reality is often different to photos, and upon arrival, Barlowe found the car had been seriously neglected: “There were little dents in the back, the materials looked quite tired and there was some paint peeling off it so I said I’d take it off his hands for $13,000, to which he said yes!”

    After his purchase, Barlowe drove the car back to Melbourne and straight into the Brighton BMW garages, whereupon the manager, Rob Chester, took one look, shook his head and said, “what have you done?”. Barlowe had been talking to Chester in the lead-up to the purchase, and Chester kept advising him not to do it. However, Barlowe claims he “had to have it” and the timing did rather suggest “it was almost meant to be”.

    Sadly, though, even when fate is seemingly on your side, things can sometimes come back to bite you, and Chester ended up being proved right: “They had the car for a day to look over it and Chester called me back in the afternoon, sat me down at his desk and said, ‘would you like a whisky? I think you’re going to need one’.” Barlowe was then handed a five-page report of things that needed fixing. The estimate? $13,000 – the cost of the car.

    Not having the money back then, Barlowe and Chester agreed that doing the minimum to get it roadworthy and registered would be enough initially, with the rest best handled as a project. To keep himself on the road in the meantime, Barlowe purchased an E32 735i daily as well.

    As with many projects, things progressed slowly after that. It took two years before Barlowe could rebuild the suspension, for example, including the self-levelling mechanism on the rear, and fix up all the running gear. Next came the body, which was given a bare metal respray in its original Bronzit Metallic. Here Barlowe discovered some rust in the doors but, thankfully, apart from the tin worm and a little accident damage around the right-hand B-pillar, the rest of the body was pretty straight. At the same time as the respray, Barlowe sent the chrome trims to be refinished as well.

    At this stage, a few hiccups aside, things seemed to be progressing smoothly, but things soon changed. “I took it to a paintshop in Warragul on the recommendation of Norm and Faye,” Barlowe explains. “It committed to the job but then the owner decided to sell the business to her ex-husband so she then didn’t want to commit to the job. The paintshop, though, had already started stripping the car, so it ended up with me running around trying to find someone else to pick up the work.”

    Eventually, Barlowe found a shop called D-Line Smash Repairs in the same town who did “a beautiful job fixing it”, but even then the gods weren’t done playing with Barlowe. “As I was pulling out of Victoria Gardens shopping centre in Richmond, the boom gate came down on the car,” he relates. This, and another minor incident meant more touch-up work, this time at Superfinish in Moorabbin. Thankfully, insurance payouts covered everything and thanks to Superfinish’s skills, the paint on the roof and front end actually came out even better than the respray from D-Line. “It’s all ended up working in my favour, to be honest,” Barlowe laughs.

    A year later, Barlowe moved onto the interior, calling upon Unique Leather Restorations to refresh the car’s once-sumptuous Oyster Nappa leather interior. No small job, considering almost every surface inside the car, apart from the suede roof lining, is covered with dead cow. “We kept the original leather, bar one or two panels on the driver’s seat, and that was all stripped back and recoloured and reconditioned,” Barlowe says. Any mechanical and electrical work was handed to SouthernBM, a specialist shop whose M235i we also featured in the January 2016 issue. The car was actually back with them at time of writing getting an oil leak fixed, and was also awaiting its new bucket shims and final tune.

    Barlowe says the eventual goal with the car is a close to factory-fresh restoration, although he’s veered away from this slightly when it comes to the wheels and ECU. The late-model E24 M635CSi TRX alloys still look factory but a trained eye will spot they’re not. Just for a little extra impact, Barlowe is also going to get them polished like the ones on his E32. As for the ECU, it’s been upgraded with a Powerchip custom tune for a bit more grunt.

    That the car isn’t complete yet doesn’t stop Barlowe driving it as often as he can. Indeed, he even took it over to New Zealand in 2012 (hence the NZ ‘Warrant of Fitness’ sticker) for the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing, which celebrated 40 years of M. Admittedly he didn’t race it, but he did put in some hard driving during the parade sessions and pushed the car closer to its (very high) limits than he could on the road. “It was a fantastic experience,” he says.

    Even on public roads, though, it clearly drives brilliantly. On a post-shoot ride, while its 2.2-ton wet weight meant it wasn’t swift off the line, the M88 punched hard in roll-on acceleration, and though the car exhibited typical 1980s-style body roll, grip levels were impressive. Yes, modern iterations of the unique Michelin TRXs help, but it clung on admirably. Even the brakes, thanks to the four piston front and two piston rear callipers, were solid, although you definitely felt the inertia during hard stops.

    It’s the gearbox, though, that’s perhaps now the most amazing aspect of the car – at least in Sport mode. Left in auto, it’s just a regular slushbox but bespoke maps for this model mean that in Sport it locks up the torque converter in third and locks out fourth entirely. This results in manual-like downshifts and seamless upshifts. This isn’t hyperbole, either. There is literally no perceptible movement or loss of momentum when you upshift manually in Sport. It’s a miracle, and makes you wonder what we’ve lost in the last 30 years, because few gearboxes we’ve experienced since come close.

    It’s easy to see why, then, Barlowe has no interest in selling it. “I love it too much. You go and drive it and it’s so rewarding to drive,” he enthuses. “It gives you that true BMW experience.” A Hollywood-style happy ending, then. It really was meant to be.

    “It’s all ended up working in my favour, to be honest”

    The 1980s centre console was a riot of buttons – those heating and air con controls look complicated!

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E23 / #BMW-745i / #BMW-745i-E23 / #BMW-745i-SA /

    ENGINE: #M88/3 / #BMW-M88 / #M88 / 3453cc six-cylinder (93.4mm bore, 84mm stroke), 24-valve crossflow head, 264-degree camshafts, 10.5:1 compression ratio, #Bosch-ML-Jetronic fuel injection, #Bosch-Motronic engine management with custom #Powerchip tune

    GEARBOX: #ZF four-speed automatic transmission #ZF4HP / #ZF4HP22 , 3.73:1 final drive ratio, limited-slip differential

    MAX POWER: 290hp @ 6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 251lb ft @ 4400rpm
    CHASSIS: Pressed steel monocoque
    FRONT SUSPENSION: McPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    REAR SUSPENSION: Semi-trailing arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar, self-levelling mechanism
    BRAKES: 300mm ventilated discs with four-piston calipers (front), 285mm solid discs with two-piston calipers (rear), ABS
    WHEELS: #Fuchs-TRX one-piece alloys from late model E24 M635CSi (415mm x 195mm ET20, 5x120 PCD)
    TYRES: 240/45 VR415
    • Seventh heaven. I’m planning to take the plunge and buy a first generation 7 Series in the next few weeks and just wanted to check if you have ever doSeventh heaven. I’m planning to take the plunge and buy a first generation 7 Series in the next few weeks and just wanted to check if you have ever done a Buying Guide for one of these fine cars?

      I plan to drive the E23 as a weekend car for a few years and then move onto an E32 Seven. The E32 is the car that got me into #BMW s, when I was about ten years old or so! I remember it vividly, seeing a black E32 with a wide grille and I’ve dreamed about the 7 Series ever since. I drove an E38 728i for eight years, an E65 750i for over a year, but have subsequently now downgraded to an E60 523i after my son was born. Funny, all my cars were bought second-hand in the UK (mainland or Northern Ireland) – UK cars are much better spec’d than those in Ireland due to nasty excise duty in the Republic (called Vehicle Registration Tax, ranging from 14 to 36 per cent – only Norwegians and Singaporeans have higher import taxes I’ve heard!).

      That’s why the E23 makes commercial sense as a backup car – motor tax is outrageously expensive in Ireland, unless you drive a modern diesel (CO² emissions-based since 2008, previously engine size). The 750i was €1800 per year, the 728i was €1300 and even the 523i is €1100 (by comparison a modern 520d can be as little as €200). For classic cars over 30 years old, motor tax is only €56, plus you get lower vintage insurance. Then there’s the unquantifiable joy of driving something unusual (there are very few E23s left, I plan to preserve one for posterity). I’m inspecting the E23 with my mechanic colleague in the UK in a few weeks time, quite excited about it.

      I’m reading every edition of BMW Car diligently. I enjoyed the feature about the South African #BMW-E23 / #BMW-745i-E23 – loved the leather-swathed interior. Thanks for bringing joy into lives of Blue Roundel enthusiasts!
        More ...
    • First off, our most recent Buying Guide to the E23 Seven was in the June 2011 issue, and it’s great to hear from someone who is actively searching forFirst off, our most recent Buying Guide to the E23 Seven was in the June 2011 issue, and it’s great to hear from someone who is actively searching for one of these brilliant cars. Those car tax figures are crazy, we can quite understand why you’re searching out an older model. Good luck with your search.   More ...
    • E23 745i M88 SA - is the best E23 7-series ever. I think it is the first M7 car, more cool than E32 750i V12 and many more bimmers made after. Rare, cE23 745i M88 SA - is the best E23 7-series ever. I think it is the first M7 car, more cool than E32 750i V12 and many more bimmers made after. Rare, clean and unique! Automatic ZF 4HP was never agregated before and after with M88 unit - and very cool for mid-80s BMW automatic gearbox selector with naturally skinned cover! Interior perfect. Look clean and stream.   More ...
    • Production Versions 6918: South African-spec (RHD) manual, 01/1984 through 01/1986 6928: South African-spec (RHD) automatic, 01/1984 through 04/1987 HProduction Versions
      6918: South African-spec (RHD) manual, 01/1984 through 01/1986
      6928: South African-spec (RHD) automatic, 01/1984 through 04/1987

      What makes the South African E23 745i unique?
      The South African E23 745i is unique in that it is the only 7 Series model that is powered by the BMW Motorsport-designed 24-valve M88 powerplant also used in the E24 M635CSi coupe and E28 M5 sedan. This effectively makes it an "M7" in all but name. E23 745i models sold in the rest of the world use a turbocharged version of the 12-valve M30 engine instead.

      Why was the M88-powered 7 Series not badged as an M7?
      It is not entirely clear why the M88-powered 7 Series was not badged as an M7. It may have been because of BMW AG's policy (which continues to this day) of not bestowing any 7 Series model with a proper M badge. It may also be because BMW AG did not wish to upstage the turbocharged 745i sold in Europe, which was ultimately less powerful than the 24-valve version.

      Why was the M88-powered E23 745i developed for South Africa?
      After experimenting with various new V8 and V12 engines, BMW AG decided to use a turbocharged version of the existing SOHC M30 inline-six in its flagship E23 7 Series model. However, because of packaging restrictions caused by the addition of the turbocharger, this engine could not be fitted to right-hand drive cars.

      Not content with selling a left-hand drive version of the 745i in a right-hand drive market, BMW of South Africa decided to instead to create a unique E23 variation powered by the 24-valve M88 engine already developed by BMW Motorsport for the E24 6 Series and E28 5 Series. Assembled in South Africa from Complete Knock-Down (CKD) kits, this special right-hand drive model was sold exclusively in the domestic market, though at least one example was subsequently exported to Europe.

      Why is the M88-powered 745i unique to South Africa?
      BMW has never officially stated why the German-built 745i models did not receive the M88 engine. The most likely explanation is that the M88 powerplant, developed originally for the M1 sports car, is a fairly noisy unit that develops its peak power at a relatively high engine speed. This was perhaps at odds with the role of the 7 Series as a refined luxury sedan, thus the smoother turbocharged unit was deemed more appropriate for use in 745i models sold in all other markets. In addition, it is unlikely that BMW could have produced enough M88 engines to satisfy demand, had the M motor been used in the German-built 745i.

      Where was the South African E23 745i built?
      Like all E23 7 Series sold in South Africa, the 745i was assembled in small numbers at BMW's Rosslyn, South Africa factory from Complete Knock-Down (CKD) kits supplied from Germany.

      Production Data

      How many versions of the M88-powered E23 745i were developed?
      Just one version of the M88-powered 745i was developed, exclusively in right-hand drive for the South African market.

      How many examples of the M88-powered E23 745i were prodcued?
      209 examples of the M88-powered 745i sedan were produced by BMW South Africa from January 1984 through April 1987. Of these, approximately 17 were equipped with a Getrag 5-speed manual transmission (model 6918) and the remainder were fitted with a ZF four-speed automatic (model 6928).

      What changes were made to the South African E23 745i during its producton?
      With the exception of minor equipment alterations common to the entire E23 7 Series range such as an updated steering wheel design and improved on-board computer, there were no major changes to the South African 745i during the two and a half years that it was produced.


      What makes the M88 powerplant unique?
      The M88 engine in the South African 745i is an evolution of the 24-valve inline-six developed for the mid-engine M1 supercar and is identical to the unit used in the non-catalyst versions of the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5. Like the 12-valve M30 engine upon which it is based, the M88 has a displacement of 3,453cc via a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm. Unique to the M88 is the four-valve crossflow cylinder head (with 37mm inlet valves and 32mm exhaust valves) designed for better breathing at high rpm and a pair of 264-degree camshafts. With Bosch Motronic engine management and a lack of smog controls, the M88 produces 286 hp (DIN) at 6,500 rpm and 251 lb/ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

      It is worth noting that the M88 engines fitted to early examples of the South African 745i are simply inscribed "BMW" on their cam cover in place of the later "M Power" designation shared with the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5.

      What kind of gearboxes were offered on the South African-spec 745i?
      Most examples of the South African-spec 745i were equipped with a computer-controlled ZF four-speed automatic transmission with Sport, Economy and Manual shift point modes mated to a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio and limited slip differential. Unlike the German-built 745i, the South African version was also offered with a Getrag five-speed manual gearbox with a "dogleg" shift pattern and the following ratios: 3.72 (1), 2.40 (2), 1.77 (3), 1.24 (4), 1.00 (5). These were equipped with a 3.45:1 rear end with limited slip.


      How is the South African-spec 745i's suspension different from that of the German-built version?
      The suspension of the South African-spec 745i is slightly firmer than that of the European-spec model and a load-leveling rear axle is standard.

      What size brakes does the South African-spec 745i have?
      The South African-spec 745i is equipped with the same brakes as the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5: 11.8-inch (300mm) vented discs in front and 11.2-inch (285mm) solid discs in the rear with standard ABS.

      What size wheels and tires does the South African-spec 745i have?
      The South African-spec 745i is fitted with BBS Mahle cross-spoke alloy wheels featuring special center caps bearing the BMW Motorsport colors. These measure 7x16-inch in front and 8x16-inch in rear and are fitted with staggered 205/55VR16 (front) and 225/50VR16 (rear) tires.


      How does the exterior of the South African-spec 745i differ from that of the German-built model?
      The exterior of the M88-powered 745i is distinguished from other 7 Series models only by its 16-inch BBS Mahle alloy wheels. There are no M badges or any other special trim items on the exterior of the car.

      How is the interior of the South African-spec 745i different from that of the German-built model?
      Unlike the exterior, the interior of the M88-powered 745i contains many special features. The entire cabin including the dashboard, center console, door panels and headliner is covered in ultra-soft Nappa leather (later known as the "Highline" interior, this extensive leather option was not offered on German-built E23s until the final 1986 model year). The center console itself is shaped slightly differently than in other E23 models, with the power window switches located around the shifter instead of around the parking brake handle and the ashtray located behind the shifter instead of below the radio. On cars with an automatic transmission, the shift lever lacks the usual "PRND321" markings and is surrounded by a leather boot. Also unique to the South African-spec 745i is a special instrument cluster with the M logo on both the speedometer and tachometer faces though it appears that the M logo was removed from the speedometer face early into production. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a three-spoke (non-M) design.

      What features are included in the South African-spec 745i's interior?
      The interior of every South African-spec 745i is equipped with essentially all available E23 features including power windows, power mirrors, power front seats, power rear seats, power glass moonroof (deletable upon request), automatic climate control, cruise control, check control, on-board computer, radio/cassette audio system and rear window sunshade.

      Special Versions


      Color and Upholstery Selections

      The E23 745i M88 was offered in the same exterior paint colors that were available on all South African-built E23s produced during the same production period. However, its unique complete Nappa leather interior was offered only in Oyster and Indigo.
        More ...

    • Matt Petrie COOL INFO! Thanks!
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    Giant road test #BMW-635CSi-E24 vs. #Mercedes-Benz-380SLC-C107 / #Mercedes-Benz-380SLC / #Mercedes-Benz / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-E24 / #BMW / #Mercedes-Benz-C107 / #Mercedes-C107 /

    The two luxury coupes from #BMW AG and #Mercedes-Benz are not only impressive with shapely elegance. As expensive top models they combine luxury with performance. On the Boulevard of longing drive them way ahead.

    What a nice car, I muse, while the BMW 635 CSi E24 slowly moving in its me. I sit in the Mercedes 380 SLC, its contemporary counterpart, both with exactly 218 hp. Both once with a price of just under 60 000 marks as expensive. The six is a six-cylinder, which follows the SLC Daimler privilege and provides an eight-cylinder, whose supple sovereignty is supported by a four-speed automatic.

    I look through the wide, but low Mercedes-windscreen on the shark-like face of BMW. The typical brand dual headlights act not aggressive, but determined the distinctive kidney is modeled perfectly in the center. It is stamped from the plate, and not merely a cheap panel as detailed in the later sevens.

    The beautiful BMW turns a wide circle arc in the courtyard of fairgrounds in order to place next to my Mercedes. Here I see clearly its elegant profile. I notice the low waistline with the large side windows as well as the bold wheel cutouts on.

    The slightly short wheelbase, otherwise like criticizes the six acts from my perspective hardly disturbing. True beauty, I think, always has something to do with sexy imperfection. Deep relaxed I sit in the Mercedes on a wide blue leather chair, have before me the large star-wheel with the strange cattle engraved around the rim.

    Even a mundane SL or SLC is here the common 200D is, there is not a privilege of athleticism - but the tachometer.

    Sound and form in harmony

    The frameless side window of the silver blue SLC is half open. So I hear the sonorous sound of the BMW unobtrusive, gently modulated by only one shift. His driver rotates, probably inspired as well, cocky a few circles too much. It is the perfect accompaniment to the attractive form, this unheard cultured shakes the whole force of its 304 Newton meters casually from the front pipe.

    The interior of the Mercedes animated indeed to such contemplative viewing of sound and style. Dignified burled walnut, blue, light patinated leather with intense odor and familiarity that radiates all, also just been criticized steering wheel calm. The SLC is as an Abraham-lap, which makes you forget a lot of kilometers, but also defeated an accelerated procedure. From the rugged beauty of the SLC I've always been convinced even with car connoisseurs with a strong sense of aesthetics I had to justify it often.

    When SLC running length compared to squat SL Roadster something of beautiful, and the proportions jubilant 36-centimeter longer wheelbase.

    Even the louver windows, derided by others as a styling gimmick, I find downright erotic and consistently. For lamellae, if you will, can also be found in the rear lights, the radiator grille and in the basement of the profile again. The almost dome-shaped rear window of the Mercedes also is one of the specific details of this extravagant form that created chief stylist Friedrich Geiger. Paul Bracq, in earlier years of Mercedes-services nor father of pagoda, Stroke Eight and tailfin Coupé, drew the six, who despite their beauty offers less formal extravagance, but polyphonic harmony as the SLC.

    The irrationality of the V8

    The photo tours on the open fairgrounds be completed with restrained dynamics, no tire squeal, no kickdown. The automatic wins just once in third gear, their shifts are barely noticeable, speeds above 2500rpm hardly be achieved on the smooth asphalt Fair. My SLC obeys precise, accelerating gently, but firmly, steers easily with a little game about the central position, also comes very familiar and Daimler-typical. Acoustically it pleased me even more than the BMW, the casual-cool flap-flap-flap of the rather low volume aluminum eight-cylinder makes a nice accompaniment to quite emotional feeling of the heavy car. Got serious about only later, on the highway.

    Only then I will give him the spores to use his time in proverbial tests revving to rapid acceleration. I want to hear when the soaked Flap-flap-flap a hoarse staccato, and sense when the shifts are tougher. No one believes that under the beautiful bodywork of the SLC, the Stroke Eight chassis infected. It has with its rugged wishbones front and semi-trailing arms rear reserves without end. Although he was raised to brave understeer, could beat him at long-distance rallies like the Bandama transverse drifting on gravel roads.

    Finally switch to the long-awaited BMW six that will catch me again, by neutralizing my SLC euphoria slowly. I even had an E24, a mild 628 CSi of the first series, of course, with ZF three-speed automatic (ZF3HP 22). Our 635 CSi comes the second series, uses a platform already more mature in quality and driving dynamics fives E28 instead of playful E12 with its pronounced tendency to oversteer. I sit much higher in BMW, the ambience is dominated despite leather of cool functionality. The steering wheel is exaggerating it so, it seems strange mannered.

    For sheer driving pleasure
    But I feel nevertheless probably already with its dominant driving position affects the 635 CSi gripping. The large bulbous, super-elastic six-cylinder, which you can also drive in third gear, pawing already just above the idling speed with the powerful hooves. He wants to show what it can do, and with him the whole six-ser.

    Sometimes I look instinctively to first gear left behind, but the Getrag five-speed gearbox a protected and no sports transmission. The handling of the nimble BMW is clearly better than that of almost ponderous Mercedes - he looks much more alive, the shorter wheelbase provides advantages in agility, the steering is direct and the car feels much total curve willing to.

    The switching cars irritates course much more for turning the gears, subjectively created when 635 CSi the impression significantly more overwhelming temperament. The running gear, MacPherson struts in front and oblique handlebar rear, bought streets not position by hardness. Again, the six remains exemplary harmony. He is a sports car, but not an ascetic, the feeling of space front came luxuriant, the build quality is solid.

    Nevertheless, it remains a typical BMW, as the SLC is a typical Mercedes, with more opulence in the cylinders and in space, rather than command Lounge Chair armchair. At the end of the SLC wins the duel just because he is the better GranTurismo, and because I'd rather go with him from Hamburg to Milan.

    I almost forgot what is for a racy car of sixes. The back - torrential form, the high driving dynamics, the exciting motor. At 635 CSi of Sport weighs - dare in Gran Turismo. When formally equally enchanting SLC is reversed. Despite the actual superiority of the BMW my heart beats for the V8.

    The 635 CSi is a luxurious sports car and the 380 SLC a sporty coupe. Motor Klassik editor Alf Cremers.

    Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C107 ( #1981 ) FACTS & FIGURES

    ENGINE Type #M116 / #Mercedes-Benz-M116 , water-cooled eight-cylinder V-engine (cylinder angle 90 degrees) Bore x stroke 92 x 71.8 mm, displacement 3818 cm3, output 218 hp at 5500rpm, max. Torque 299 Nm at 4000 rpm, compression 9.0: 1, five crankshaft bearings, cylinder heads and block made of light metal, Reynolds 390, cylinder surfaces with silicon grain, per cylinder bank an overhead camshaft, driven by duplex chain, arranged in parallel valves via cam followers operated mechanical injection Bosch K-Jetronic, transistorized ignition, oil content 7.5 liters engine

    TRANSMISSION DB-automatic, four-speed planetary gearbox with hydraulic torque converter, rear-wheel drive

    BODY AND CHASSIS Self-supporting steel body, front double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer to crossmember, rear oblique beam axle, springs screws, stabilizer, front and rear auxiliary rubber springs, servo recirculating ball steering, disc brakes, a. W. ABS, wheels 6.5 J x 14, tires 205/70 VR 14

    WEIGHT Wheelbase 2820 mm, length x width x height 4750 x 1790 x 1330 mm, weight 1650 kg, fuel tank capacity 90 l

    PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Vmax 215 kmh, 0-100 km h 9.5 s, consumption 14.5 liters / 100 km

    CONSTRUCTION AND NUMBER All C107 1971-1981: 62,888 copies, 380 SLC 1980-1981: 3789 Pieces

    1 length runs, the slender silhouette of SLC also benefits from lush wheelbase. 2 Melodious 3.8-liter V8 from light metal in the early version with 218 instead of 204 hp. 3 The SLC is a true four seats, not scarcer 2 + 2, part in blue leather. 4 A beautiful face, chrome instead of aerodynamics, headlamp washers as a fine extra. 5 The 107er has pioneered the new star designs with. the typical profile luminaires. 6 air, leather, burr walnut, the SLC-feel-good interior.

    Mercedes-Benz 280-500 SLC
    The SLC is a relic of time before the rust prevention was improved when 107er. The complex technology is not to be underestimated.

    Before buying you should definitely pay attention to bubbles in the paint which are manifested mainly on the headlights, in the lateral games, in the rear wheel arches and the area of the rear side portions of the rear window. Here a duck to swan is often painted with a new selling paint - that goes for Roadster and Coupe. Rust problems manifest themselves when 107er also the boot floor, on the A-pillar, the side sills, at the jacking points and at the tips, where they flow into the wheel arches.

    Recommendable are the eight-cylinder with cast iron block, not only because they provide with good care extremely high performance, but also because of its wonderful bass-heavy sound. The problem child mimes the DOHC six-cylinder M110 whose elaborate cylinder head must be overhauled frequently at 200 000 kilometers. For such an overhaul one will go after all the 4000 Euro. A typical problem is the excessive play in the steering, it is a full-proposed steering gear fault. After long periods the fuel injection (D or K-Jetronic) can cause problems.

    When introducing 1980 (Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC) ..................... 57 700 Mark
    Classic Analytics Award 2016 (State 2/4) ..................... 19 500/3500 €

    From Mercedes-Benz is a healthy supply of spare parts. Although the prices are not low, but apart from equipment parts rare variants you get just about anything. Rare Spares there may be the 107er-Club (

    Mercedes-Benz R / C 107 SL Club Germany e. V., Krieger 40, 42115 Wuppertal, Tel. 02/695 02 44 66,
    SLS GmbH, spare parts for older Mercedes-Benz models, Industriestrasse 2-4, 22885 Barsbüttel, Tel. 040/656 93 90,
    Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, Stuttgarter Straße 90, 70736 Fellbach, Tel. 07 11/173 00 00,

    Fender bow and floor plates
    2 wheel arches and end points
    3 jacking
    4 A-pillar and sill
    5 boot floor
    6 windshield frame
    7 K-Jetronic
    8 timing chain (380, 500 SLC)
    9 Transmission Automatic
    10 Steering Gear

    Spare location
    Maintenance costs

    BMW 635 CSi, E24 ( #1984 ) FACTS & FIGURES
    ENGINE Type #M30 / #BMW-M30 / #M30B34 , water-cooled six-cylinder in-line engine, bore x stroke 92 x 86 mm, displacement 3430 cm3, output 218 hp at 5200 rpm, max. Torque 304 Nm at 4000rpm DIN, compression 10.0: Operated 1, cast iron block, cylinder head made of light metal, seven crankshaft bearings, a overhead camshaft, driven by duplex chain, two v-shaped arranged valves per cylinder, of rocker arms , Three ball whirlpools-combustion chamber, electronic fuel injection #Bosch-Motronic , map-controlled ignition, oil content engine 5.75 liters

    TRANSMISSION five-speed manual transmission, a. W. with sporting character, ZF four-speed automatic transmission #ZF4HP with torque converter, rear-wheel drive

    Self-supporting all-steel body, front MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, stabilizer, rear trailing arm, spring struts, coil springs, stabilizer, ZF recirculating ball power-power steering, disc brakes front and rear, wheels 6.5 J x 14 (aluminum), tires 205/70 VR 14 or 202/55 VR 390 TRX on specific TR-aluminum wheels

    WEIGHT Wheelbase 2626 mm, length x width x height 4755 x 1725 x 1365 mm, weight 1475 kg, fuel tank capacity 70 l

    PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Vmax 225 km / h, 0-100 km / h 8.0 s, consumption 15 l / 100 km

    CONSTRUCTION AND NUMBER E24 all models: 86 224 copies, 635 CSi: 45,213 copies

    1 Typical BMW: factual cockpit of clear, edged rigor, driver-oriented

    2 Leather in pearl beige blends well with lacquer in graphite metallic, no sport seats

    3 The great Bracq design has only one drawback: The wheelbase is 2.63 m too short

    4 Unfortunately something installed. Under throttle bodies and ECU lives the M30 six-cylinder

    5 The impressive front end with an evil eye the chocolate load side of the six

    6 Check Control in Italian: Is the oil level?

    BMW 630 CS and 635 CSi Early sixes are very susceptible to rust. The second series from 1982 are located not so much love for detail, but is much better in quality and rust prevention.

    Especially from the early models up to 8/1977, which were built entirely by Karmann, had only a few receive. Rust is found mainly on the fenders, the floor plates in the engine compartment and the front spring strut domes. To inspect the rear wheel arches and the spring dome, the trunk liner is removed. Besides - the help to look at the moldings and bumpers, because here replacement is expensive. From little things like fatigued gas pressure regulators of the bonnet, defective motors for window regulators and sunroofs or frayed leather seats and the six will not be spared.

    The six-cylinder M30 is practically just go on forever - if one starts with regular maintenance and the engine is not cold chasing what provokes cracks in the cylinder head. Pay attention to rattling noises, because that might indicate broken-camshaft, rocker defective or worn rocker arms. Bearing failures are very rare, since the crank mechanism is designed such that it without grumbling turbocharging or the high-performance four-valve head from the M1 and M 635 CSi endures. Are they well treated, then keep the Getrag manual transmission and the ZF automatic transmission as long as the motor.

    When introducing 1982 (BMW 635 CSi, 2nd series) ........................ 56 750 Mark
    Classic Analytics Award 2016 (State 2/4) ..................... 23 000/4000 Euro

    Technik replacement is easy to get on the E24. The second series from July 1982 shall be based on the widely used E28 fives, and there are equal parts with the first sevens. The early models with E12 technology prepare few problems except for equipment and trim.

    BMW 6 Club (E24) e. V., Wolfgang Krammel, to Weiden 11, 40764 Langenfeld, Tel. 021 73/752 50,
    Walloth & Nesch Spare parts for classic BMW, Im Ohl 69, 59757 Arnsberg, Tel. 029 32/90 04 50,
    BMW Group Classic, Petuelring 130, 80788 Munich, Tel. 089/38 22 70 21,

    Fenders and floor panels
    2 hidden accident damage
    3 sills and door bottoms
    4 strut towers front
    5 Headlight (refl)
    6 tie rod ends
    7 rear wheel, wheel arches
    8 Rear axle
    9 cylinder head
    10 Motronic control unit

    Spare location
    Maintenance costs
    Availability demand
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    Ultra-coupe #BMW-850i-E31 vs. #Mercedes-Benz-500SL-R129 Kings of autobahn

    True showcases the best of what is made in Germany of the 90s, the BMW 850i and the Mercedes-Benz 500 SL can be distinguished on the body, but they share a world of technology.

    Beneficiaries with excellent infrastructure, the Germans always prized good (and fast) cars. But never like in the 90's builders were so intent on uniting the power of V8 and V12 engines with new technologies that fulfil comfort and safety the top of the range, if the fabulous BMW 850i E31 and Mercedes-Benz 500 SL R129 which decided By facing each other.

    Conceived as a GT capable of facing brands like Ferrari or Maserati, BMW 8 Series ( #BMW-E31 code name) made furore when it came to market in 1989. enviable technological package, in addition to the V8 and V12 engines, the "eight" premiered among other things accelerator "drive by wire". From the first moment the 850i, with its V12 engine with five-litres and 300 horsepower, took the top of the hierarchy. Descendant of a royal line of convertibles, the #Mercedes-Benz-SL (R129 codename) was designed to overcome the previous models of the star brand. And it had new engines and a lot of technology. Aware of the importance of the US market, the German technical safety elected as one of the most important parameters, with SL to be equipped with an automatic rollbar, triggered in the event of imminent rollover. The version 500 SL was equipped with a V8 engine with five litres and a power output of 326 horsepower.

    Apparently distinct, if only for their body, both German proposals represent the best of what they did in Germany in the 90s, keeping intact predicates as the ability to travel long distances in comfort (and speed) and excite your driver. Equipped with different architectures engines - the BMW with a V12 and #Mercedes-Benz with a V8 - the total weights and power equate themselves as well as the use of an automatic four relationships.

    Designed by Klaus Kapitza, the BMW 8 Series conquers us immediately by its slender and proportionate lines, noting the absence of B-pillar, making it even more airy and clean their profile. More classical in their approach, the duo of Mercedes Johann Tomforde and Bruno Sacco designers kept the inspiration in earlier generations of the SL, innovating in the proportions of the body, making the model even more fit the US market. In this parameter, the versatility of the body of the 500 SL convertible gives him victory by a wide margin.


    Given the traditional 500 SL chassis layout, equipped with independent suspension on both axes, with triangular arms forward and multi arms ago, the BMW 850i responds with an advanced electronic system of EDC damping with the body height adjustment. Inside the 850i back to gain advantage, with several electric drives to the chassis functions and facilities the cabin.

    Life on Board
    Consistent with the modern lines of the exterior, the interior of the BMW 850i blend perfectly new technologies with ergonomic advocated at the time. Sitting in armchair advantaged lined skin, I find myself wrapped in the assembly of the instrument panel and centre console, the driver-oriented as today happens. Initially confused, the multitude of buttons quickly becomes customary, which just goes to prove the excellent ergonomics of the BMW.

    In contrast, Mercedes-Benz has the cabin of simple lines and the ideal partner to its classic design. Timidly around in scanty centre console, round buttons contrast with the rectangular command of the electric windows and heated seats, they also lined skin. Undoubtedly two quality proposals with very different attributes.

    Taking advantage of a known piece of winding road near Bucelas, with the machine photographer at the ready, become familiar myself with the 850i. Smooth and progressive, little temperamental delivery and quiet to medium regimes, the V12 seems distant in the way you work. The speedometer indicates 300 km / h top speed, but it is the accounting-rotations that deserves attention, because only after exceeded the threshold of 4000 rpm (up to the limit set at 5500 rpm) is the 300 horsepower are revealed with a sharp, metallic roar.

    Full-bodied sound and serious tone, the V8 engine that equips the 500 SL deserves more attention from the first meters. Although it is rotating that its German counterpart (the redline is at 6000 rpm), the block seems to have more soul at low engine speeds, rewarding the persistence of the right foot with a baritone intoxicating sound that makes me immediately smitten.

    Geared towards the long (and smooth) German autobahn, both models are true street sofas. On Portuguese roads, where the broken asphalt prevails, analogue suspension of the 500 SL disguises most swells, but the electronic BMW system that takes the advantage in terms of comfort, although very short, with a work smooth and progressive.


    Some say that "BMW with five meters long (other than the 7 series) does not count." I'm not that radical, but the fact is that the kinetic structure of the 850i worth exploring in highway, as in tight corners reveals ill at ease. To my regret, as the hydraulically assisted steering of the BMW is one of the best I have ever experienced, providing perfect dose of accuracy, sensitivity and weight.

    In the case of Mercedes-Benz is the direction that makes the model fall short of expectations, too care centre and insensitivity. In contrast, the chassis is truly brilliant, casting to the type of driving quickly and accurately. In turn, the rear axle sets quietly, helping to describe the trajectory, which in turn allows me to further explore the limits without fear of exceeding them.


    Neoclassical by definition, both the BMW and Mercedes-Benz have an estimated price of EUR 18 000 for the coupe and EUR 20 000 for the convertible. The same can be said regarding the consumption announced at the time. According to BMW, the 850i E31 was spending 90 kmh (average speed) 8.6-litres / 100 km, 120 kmh 10.3-litres / 100 km, and urban environments spent 19.8-litres / 100 km. Mercedes already spent to 90 kmh 10.1-litres / 100 km, 120 kmh 12.0-litres / 100 km, and urban environments spent 16.6-litres / 100 km. Two types of savings to take into account when we talk about classics as recent, and give a technical draw the tested models.


    Geared towards the fabulous German roads, the BMW 850i E31 and the Mercedes-Benz 500 SL R129 are probably two of the best gender models of the 90s (the list could also include the Porsche 928), but they could not be more different from one from the other. The BMW is a true GT, gentle in character and available at delivery, with comfort to spare. But the Mercedes-Benz SL enhances heritage with a refined sporty character mixed with classic atmosphere and current benefits. The winner should be the V12 from BMW but the versatility of the V8 #Mercedes-Benz takes the lead. Close call.

    We appreciate the collaboration of David Correia, Orlando Ferreira, the stand and the Living Legends Classic Auctions place for conducting this test.

    In more meandering routes the BMW 850i tends to run away slightly from the front, being quite progressive and predictable.

    Blessed by an excellent multi arm rear axle, the 500 SL is quite agile in the description of the tightest curves.

    The automatic transmission of the BMW offers several methods of use, being smooth and progressive. The tachometer announces 300 kmh top speed.

    The automatic transmission of the Mercedes-Benz is one of his best predicates, being smooth and very discreet in the passage of relations.

    Of slim silhouette and generous glazed surface, the 850i is still an elegant model, positioned between the glorious past of BMW and corrugated future aesthetic of the German mark.

    Classic and robust ways: so should always be an SL Mercedes-Benz, or this were not known as "panzerwagen". The maximum speed advertised by the tachometer is 260 kmh.

    The rear seats could be specified, although offered a very limited use. The bag is smaller than the BMW.

    With the roof closed the 500 SL is a true GT, versatile and effective.

    The classic appearance of the 500 SL is continued throughout the interior.

    Four excellent leather seats and a luggage compartment make this remarkable GT. a real racing car family to enjoy during long trips.

    In tight corners the BMW-850i is shown thwarted, preferring the highway.

    Quite ergonomic and technologically advanced, the interior of the #BMW 850i still remains current.

    TECH DATA #BMW-850i #BMW-E31 #1989 - #1994
    Production 20,072
    Engine V12 cylinders #M70 , front longitudinal position
    Distribution 2 overhead camshafts head, 24 valves
    Bore x Stroke 84 X 75mm
    Displacement (cc) 4988
    Power injection #Bosch-Motronic-M 1.7 / #Bosch-Motronic / #Bosch
    Max power (bhp DIN / rpm) 300/5200
    Maximum torque (Nm DIN / rpm) 450/4100
    Independent suspension; Front, lower transversal oscillating arms, anti approximation bar; rear, multi-link, anti approximation bar; electronic damping system #EDC with height adjustment.
    Transmission, automatic transmission 4-speed #ZF4HP / #ZF ; stability and traction control #ASC
    Steering Rack & Pinion, Variable
    Brakes power-assistance, front ventilated discs; rear disks; ABS #Bosch-ABS
    Chassis monoblock, coupé steel body, two doors and four seats
    Tank fuel capacity 90-litres
    Wheels / Tyres 7,5J / 235/50 ZR16
    Length: 4780mm
    Wheelbase: 2685 mm
    Width: 1855 mm
    Weight (kg) 1790
    Acceleration 0-100 kmh (0-62MPH) 7.4 sec
    Top speed 250 kmh

    TECH DATA #Mercedes-Benz-500SL - #Mercedes-Benz-R129 #1992 - #2002
    Production 79,827
    Engine V8 cylinders, front longitudinal position
    Distribution 4 camshafts to the head, 32 valves
    Bore x Stroke 96.5 x 85mm
    Displacement (cc) 4973
    Power mechanical injection / #Bosch electronic KE5-Jetronic / #Bosch-Jetronic / #Bosch-KE5-Jetronic
    Max power (bhp DIN / rpm) 326/5500
    Max torque (Nm DIN / rpm) 450/4000
    Independent suspension; Front, wishbone, bar stabilizer, coil springs; rear multi-link, stabilizer bar, coil springs
    Transmission automatic 4/5 speed
    Steering Rack & Pinion power-assistance
    Brakes with assistance ahead ventilated discs; ago disks; ABS #Bosch
    Chassis monoblock, convertible body in steel, 2-door, four-seat capacity
    Fuel tank 80-litrtes
    Wheels / Tyres 8J / 225/55 ZR16
    Length: 4470 mm
    Wheelbase: 2515 mm
    Width: 1810 mm
    Weight (kg) 1800
    Acceleration 0-100 kmh (0-62MPH) 6.2 seconds
    Max speed 250 Kmh
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    BUYING GUIDE #BMW-520i-E28 , #BMW-525e-E28 , #BMW-525i-E28 and #BMW-528i-E28

    Buying Guide All you need to know if you’re looking at a smaller-engined version of the classic E28 5 Series.

    The E28 is fast becoming an appreciating classic and if you want one to enjoy on a regular basis, it’s the six-cylinder non-M versions you should be looking at… Words: Simon Holmes Photography: Dave Smith.

    It’s hard to imagine that BMW started work on the second generation of 5 Series some six years before it was launched, but there was good reason for the pre-planning. The previous E12 had been hugely successful and BMW was keen to maintain the lead it had pulled on its rivals. However, when the E28 arrived in the UK in early 1982 it was immediately criticised for its conservative styling that didn’t seem to look a whole lot different from the previous model launched some nine years before! But although the two models shared the same roof pressing, virtually every other panel, part and component was different and improved upon.

    For a start, the E28 platform was lighter, lower and more aerodynamic. It featured a shorter wheelbase and the suspension incorporated a double-pivot design at the front, borrowed from the E23 7 Series. At the rear, there was an improved axle design to increase both stability and ride comfort. Comfort was also a focus inside, as the seats were bigger and the rear cabin space increased for both headroom and legroom. The dashboard was also angled towards the driver and double door seals reduced road noise.

    Electronics played a bigger part this time round, as an on-board computer and a new sophisticated Service Interval Indicator were introduced, along with other optional, modern day luxuries such as power steering, central locking, electric windows and ABS. Power-wise, the E28 was launched with a number of engines ranging in size, all of which were carried over from the E12, but modern upgrades such as fuel injection ensured they were up to scratch. The straight-six range started with the 520i, powered by a fuel injected 1990cc ‘small-block’ #M20B20 engine, producing 125hp and 122lb ft of torque. This equated to a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 115mph when connected to the standard manual gearbox. Next in the six-pot family came the #BMW-525i , which was fitted with the larger ‘bigblock’ M30 engine #M30B25 . Capacity was up to 2494cc and power output increased to 150hp and 159lb ft of torque, which produced a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds with a top speed of 125mph, again with the manual transmission option. Last up, fitting in before the more sporting M535i model was the #BMW-528i , which again used the larger M30 engine. In the 528i, the #M30B28 2788cc unit produced a gusty 184hp and 177lb ft of torque, which offered impressive performance thanks to a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard but on all six-cylinder cars there was also an automatic option. At first, this was a ZF3HP three-speed transmission but that was soon replaced with an updated four-speed #ZF4HP in 1983.

    By #1984 , BMW was forced to address a demand by the public for more fuel-efficient models. This is where the 525e entered the picture. The ‘e’ designation stood for ‘eta’ and the model was based upon the American-spec #BMW-528e that had been introduced a year-and-a-half earlier. The #BMW-525e featured a unique 2.7-litre version of the ‘small-block’ M20 engine, fitted with a new Bosch fuel injection system for more accurate control of the engine, which improved performance and emissions. Power was down to 125hp but with 177lb ft of torque to match and in the UK it was only available with the four-speed automatic. This affected performance, which was listed as 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds with a top speed of 118mph.

    Other enhancement updates followed in the final years of the E28, and in #1985 the #BMW-520i received a mild revamp that saw an improved fuel injection system increase engine output to 129hp and 128lb ft of torque. To accompany the changes, the axle ratio was also lowered for manual transmission cars and low profile tyres were added for the first time. In 1986, the 520i was upgraded to discs at the rear, bringing it in line with the rest of the six-cylinder cars that already had them as standard and the interior received some minor changes across the range. A majority of cars from this time until the E28’s end were equipped with the ‘Lux’ specification pack, which included alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, central locking and a sunroof.

    The E28 outsold the previous E12 but the styling quickly aged the car, which meant its lifespan wasn’t as long as its predecessor. Production ended in #1987 after a six-year worldwide run to make way for the replacement E34 model.

    Buying one

    As a classic car to live with and enjoy on weekends, the E28 is ideal. It’s modern and practical enough to actually use whilst still feeling decidedly retro. And if you plan on using it regularly, then the six-pot cars make more sense than the less torquey four-pot, as the silky smooth engines suit their character. Plus they are usually better spec’d.

    If you do want one, be aware there aren’t many to choose from, so be prepared to make compromises rather than deciding on a particular model, in a certain colour. Also consider that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the 520i and 525e in terms of performance, it’s only the 525i manual and 528i that feel notably faster than the other models. You should be buy based on the condition over anything else. There is plenty to check so make sure you’re up to scratch and always take the car on a testdrive. An E28 that feels unresponsive and tired, both in terms of engine power and general handling, will indicate how well it’s been looked after and loved. Look for proof of that, too. A car that’s 30 years old should have a good amount of history to show it’s been treated well.

    Price-wise, it’s hard to find a working six-pot E28 below £1500 now. Decent cars that are in good shape will easily cost double that, so budget as much as you can or if you’re limited, at least be prepared to take on a car in need of work. At the top end of the scale, we found a mint looking 528i with 51,000 miles for a shade under £9000.


    The E28 wears its miles well, although the driver’s seat bolster tends to wear at high miles. A specialist trimmer can repair them but it’s not cheap. The other option is to find a good replacement, which is hard to do, although it helps that E30 3 Series seats bolt straight up to the E28 runners. With some modification the later E34 5 Series seats can also fit. Over the years, the sun can fade the parcel shelf colouring and crack the top of the dashboard. Both can be either repaired or replaced.

    Electrics are your next problem, so find out if everything works as it should. Slow or seized electric windows or mirrors will be down to either the motors or switches and these can both be cleaned and lubricated, which usually brings them back to life. Sunroofs can seize through lack of use, while a broken heater is more likely to be a faulty matrix or valve. If the central locking is showing signs of dying then check and replace its control module that is fitted in the driver’s side A-pillar.

    More serious issues can occur with the instrument clusters. If the service indicator is dead then there’s a good sign that other gauges will soon follow if they haven’t already stopped working, as the cluster incorporates a battery that corrodes and damages the circuit board its mounted to. The earlier, pre-1986 cluster boards cannot be repaired, so a good secondhand one has to be sourced, but supply is drying up. Later, face-lifted clusters can be repaired. The faulty cluster will also tend to knock out the OBC and, eventually, every other gauge.

    Steering and suspension

    There are plenty of reasons why an E28 might feel a bit vague, lifeless and tired when it comes to the handling and steering side of things. This tends to ruin the feel of the car but it can usually be cured relatively simply and cheaply.

    Starting with the rear, if there’s a light knocking noise when pulling away or if the car has fishtailing tendencies at speed, then the axle beam bushes are most likely worn and it will slowly get worse. However, it’s quite a tricky job to replace them unless you have the correct tools and it’s always worth fitting high quality replacements that will last. If the car experiences wheel hop or a harsh vibration when pulling away quickly, then the trailing arm bushes will need replacing.

    At the front end, TCAs wear out, as do the bushes fitted to them and a shudder when braking is a sign they are on the way out. A knocking noise when moving the steering wheel at stationary indicates the Pitman arm bushes or tie rods are worn. A light rattle when driving is more likely to be worn anti-roll bar bushes. Worn ball joints are a little more serious as, left to get worse, they can cause further damage to other components, so any strange handling tendencies should be investigated immediately.

    Another common fault that makes the car drive badly is the steering box mount failing, which causes a terrible wayward feeling from the front end. Although the mount can be welded back in place, it can break again, so it’s advisable to add a reinforcing locating dowel at the same time. Last of all, dampers often get tired and corrode if they haven’t been replaced in a while. Even if they aren’t leaking fluid it’s worth replacing them if they look a bit dilapidated, as the spring cups have been known to rot and fail, which is dangerous.

    Transmission and drivetrain

    The manual ‘boxes are near unbreakable, even after huge miles, but they can begin to feel a little loose and tired after time. This is due to worn linkages, selector shafts and bushes. Replacing these will make the ‘box feel tight again. Often just replacing the gear stick bush alone will cure most of the slack feeling, but it can be tricky.

    The ZF auto ‘boxes are generally pretty reliable units but they require regular fluid changes to remain in tiptop state so look for evidence of this in the service history. Otherwise, high mileage begins to kill them and the torque converters can also fail. Both the manual and automatics are prone to leaking a little oil, which is usually caused by faulty selector shaft and/or output shaft seals. #ZF4HP22 / #ZF3HP

    Elsewhere, the transmission, diff mounts, propshaft centre bearings and couplings all tend to perish over time, creating ‘donk’ noises and vibrations at low speeds. Also make sure that the clutch master cylinder mounting bracket is in one piece as they are known to break.


    Both the M20 and #M30 engines are very strong but they do require regular maintenance, especially as they get older. Oil changes are recommended every 6000 miles and coolant should also be changed regularly. The #M20 engine in the 520i and 525e uses a timing belt and this should be changed every 50,000 miles or so, though as these cars get older it seems popular to change them even more regularly than that. It’s always worth doing the water pump at the same time as it’s far more accessible with the belt off.

    The M30 engine in the 525i and 528i uses a timing chain instead of a belt, and it shouldn’t need replacing unless, for example, the engine has done 300,000 miles and it sounds rattly. The plastic chain guides are worth replacing if the engine is apart, though.

    If either engine has a hesitant idle then check for corroded vacuum lines first, before moving on to air-flow meter and the cold start valve. If there’s a smell of fuel either in the cabin or under the bonnet then it’s likely the fuel tank is leaking where it meets the filler neck, or the fuel lines are beginning to corrode, which doesn’t cost much to replace but take time.

    Other than that, it’s the cooling system on any E28 that needs close inspection. On the testdrive make sure the temperature gauge doesn’t read erratically. It should go up to and remain around the halfway point, even in traffic. If it does show strange signs then the viscous fan is the first place to look; make sure it is engaging and disengaging as it should. Then it’s time to check the radiator as these tend to corrode and then leak from the end caps. Also check that the hoses and expansion tank haven’t perished and are leaking coolant as, although it’s fairly rare, this could kill a headgasket.

    Wheels, tyres and brakes Secondhand E28s tend to wear either their original wheels, alloys borrowed from another model, or aftermarket replacements. As long as they fit properly and are in keeping with the car then it doesn’t make much of a difference. Be aware, though, that any wheel wobble at speed could be linked to the wheels and tyres, no matter how good they look.

    While you’re inspecting the wheels it’s always worth checking the tyres closely, both front and rear, as odd wear patterns are a certain indication that something is wrong suspension-, chassis- or steering-wise.

    When it comes to brakes, there are a few common faults. The calipers tend to seize over time, dragging on the disc. It this happens it will require a refurb to make them new again. A faulty master cylinder can also cause dragging brakes, and is likely to be the main culprit for a poor pedal-feel, too. Brake lines are known to corrode and replacing them front to back is a tricky job but should improve a lifeless brake pedal, as will lubricating the linkage to the master cylinder. If the ‘brake’ icon ever illuminates on the dashboard whilst braking then it’s most likely that the brake booster or power regulator, known as a ‘bomb’, is at fault. Warped discs will cause a brake judder, which will start at high speed but can get worse.

    Finally, there’s the ABS system, if it has one fitted. The easiest way to check if it does is by looking for the ‘anti lock’ or ABS light on the dashboard, or the ABS pump under the bonnet, although the washer fluid bottle hides it quite well. When you start engine the anti lock/ABS light should come on and then go off again quickly. If it stays on, or if goes out and then comes back on when you’re driving, it means there is a problem. It’s most likely to be the trigger rings, located in each of the hubs. These often rust up and so simply cleaning them with a wire brush can cure the issue. Otherwise, it could be down to a faulty sensor, pump, or control unit (which is located above the glovebox).

    If the anti lock/ #Bosch #ABS icon is on the dashboard but the light doesn’t come on at all then the bulb has been taken out or the entire ABS system has been removed. The latter is fine to pass an MoT still, the former is not, so physically check for the pump, control unit and sensors.


    As you might expect with an ’80s #BMW , rust is a major problem so it’s wise to inspect any #BMW-E28 vigilantly. That’s because most of the worst rot comes from the ground up, so get a good look underneath the car if you can. Look for crunchy-looking jacking points and sills. Then check the front floorpans where they meet the bulkhead and inner sills. Ideally, lift the carpets on the inside on both sides. If this is not feasible then just feel if it’s damp. This will indicate if the drainage holes are blocked (and further possible rot) or possibly there’s a broken heater matrix.

    At the rear, the axle mounts are prone to corrosion, which is costly to repair. Also check the rear panel around the numberplate lights, lock mechanism and below the tail-light area for bubbling paint, as this means rot is coming though. Then open the boot and look for signs of moisture. Both the bootlid and taillight seals are known to fail, leaking water into the boot area which will damage the carpet, trim and electrics. Inspect the boot floor and then take a look inside the spare wheel well for signs of corrosion. Working forwards, the doors can rot at the hinges and from the bottom up, as can the front wings – and this can continue along the lip of the arch. Up top, the sunroof panel can rot and any corrosion around the A-pillars and scuttle panel is particularly bad news as repairs here are complex and costly. Under the bonnet, rot can begin in between the inner wings and strut tops, again often due to blocked drainage holes. Finally, the plastics and any chrome work as these bits are hard to find and expensive to replace, if missing or damaged.


    The E28 is fast maturing into a BMW icon, and whilst the M5 models are already there, the more basic six-pot cars are becoming more sought after. Prices are on the up and the days of buying a tidy car for a few hundred pounds have long gone.

    There are plenty of things to look out for when buying one, but mechanically, there’s less to worry about as virtually everything is easy enough to sort. But getting into a full restoration of the bodywork quickly becomes time-consuming and wallet deflating so buy the most rot-free one you can find. That’s no reason to avoid an E28, just source a car wisely and enjoy it as a practical and wellpriced modern classic whilst you still can.

    E28 520i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 122lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.8 seconds (14.4)
    TOP SPEED: 115mph (111)

    E28 520i post-1985
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 129hp
    MAX TORQUE: 128lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.4 seconds (13.3)
    TOP SPEED: 118mph (114)

    E28 525i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2494cc
    MAX POWER: 150hp
    MAX TORQUE: 159lb ft
    0-62MPH: 9.8 seconds (11.9)
    TOP SPEED: 125mph (121)

    E28 525e
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2693cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 12.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 118mph

    E28 528i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2788cc
    MAX POWER: 184hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 8.4 seconds (10.8)
    TOP SPEED: 134mph (129)
    Figures in brackets for automatic
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