Double Take Period-Correct-Off: 1978 and 1979 BMW 528is

While pristine, all-original examples of classic and collector cars certainly have a cadre of devotees, there’s a slightly smaller and equally evangelical group of “period correct” piece lovers. From aftermarket wheels, body bits, seats and gauges right through to stickers, even if the car isn’t the most desirable model it can be brought up to snuff with some appropriate modifications. Today’s duo of E12s are good examples. Both start as 528i models; by themselves, certainly not the prettiest or most desirable BMW even within the period of the late 1970s. But both have gone through some modifications which make them desirable, though they take very different paths. Which one would you like?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 BMW 528i on eBay

Row Your Own? 2000 BMW 528iT v. 2003 BMW 540iT

I have a bit of an interesting comparison today, and I think in many ways it’s harder than it would first appear to be. If you said to most enthusiasts “Would you rather have a manual or automatic?”, the collective ire of autophiles towards self-controlled cars is akin to suggestion a revision to the 2nd Amendment at a NRA rally. And outwardly, today’s two E39 5-series wagons seem quite similar. But they represent two different directions for BMW and I think it will be interesting to see which foot enthusiasts land on. So, what would it be, then – a 5-speed 528i Sport Touring or a 5-speed (automatic) 540i M-Sport Touring?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 528i Touring on eBay

1979 BMW 528i

In yesterday’s Alpina Roadster post, I mentioned cars that you just don’t see much of any more. Is there a better example than the BMW E12? I’m sure there is, but in many ways the E12 embodies exactly what I was speaking of. Early examples suffered from the notorious thermal reactor problems – something that would likely put them on a CIA watchlist for extremist activity today. But it wasn’t just engine problems that struck the E12. There was one that a friend of mine owned and then sold to my cousin. It was a fun car for sure with tremendous personality, but it also had tremendous rust – the downfall of many 1970s BMWs. From the floorboards to the (leaking) fuel tank, it seemed to rust from everywhere. Not many of these sedans survive today, but they really established the benchmark for BMW’s mid-range sedans that carried over through today – they were, at the time, the best driving sedans money could buy:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 528i on eBay

1981 BMW 528i – REVISIT

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This classy E12 that we featured last summer is still looking for a home. I would assume that the 300k miles have led interested parties elsewhere, which is a shame. It’s still just as clean inside and out with the great Zender bits. 10 months and $1k later, it’s a better deal on a clean survivor that needs a good home!

Click for details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

1981 BMW 528i

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The E12 5-series is kind of like the E21 3-series, being the first of its name but not quite as cool as the Bavaria/2002s before them, nor as desired as the E28/E30s that succeeded them. This is a pretty sweet example though that has been subtly updated over time so that after nearly 35 years and over 200k miles, it still looks and runs great. The original 2.8-liter inline-6 has been replaced with a stronger 3.2, the wheels are from an E28, and both the interior and exterior have been tastefully redone. It’s old and has a few issues that will keep it a project, but odometer gears and door handles are easy items to start with. There’s definite interest but bidding is very low, making this a nice opportunity to get in a rareish classic BMW for cheap.

Click for details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

Double Take: 2001 BMW 325i Touring vs. 2000 BMW 528i Touring

I’d like to consider myself a practical person. This could partly be the reasoning behind my aversion to the SUV. Sure, these vehicles can go anywhere, but how much of the time do you really need a car like that? Then we have the crossover. Don’t want the whole hog when it comes to four-wheel drive capability? Cool. We’ll slap some plastic fender flares in a contrasting color on an otherwise decent looking estate vehicle, jack it up a bit, add all-wheel drive and call it a day. A car like this might be a bit more fuel efficient and realistic for everyday use than a purpose built truck, but let’s face it, wouldn’t a regular estate vehicle suffice for most? Looking over this low mileage 2001 BMW 325i Touring for sale in Florida brings that question to the forefront.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 325i Touring on eBay

1981 BMW 528i

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The Bavaria down the street from me always gets a second look, and the progression to the classic E28 was a smooth one. Bridging the gap was the first generation of Bimmers named 5, and today’s E12 has been putting in some serious work since it was built over 30 years ago. It looks fantastically late-70s/early-80s with gold wheels matching the pinstriping. The grey paint has a few blemishes but overall this car still shows classy and sporty in a way few cars of this era can. Think about what the American car companies were putting out in 1981… and then stop because it’s horrifying. One thing I love about 80s cars is they represent one of the last generations that can be maintained and continue running forever. With the computer invasion, I find it hard to believe that an E60 5er will ever see 300k miles. This 528i, however, has covered those miles gracefully and is ready for someone to help it go another 300k.

Click for details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

1997 BMW 528i 5-speed manual

Last night I had a conversation with a friend in the market for a new mid-sized luxury sedan. After a lot of back and forth, I realized something that has been plaguing me with most new cars lately: there’s just not much out there that speaks to me. Sure, cars on the whole are more reliable and feature-laden then they ever have been these days, but there’s a bit of uniqueness that is lacking, along with a general disappearance of engagement in the driving experience that has perpetuated across the landscape as of late.

The E39 BMW 5 series is a bit of a touchstone for many enthusiasts, as they remember it as the last of the greats before more abstract styling and electronic aids found their way into the mid-sized offering. Styling was more evolutionary rather than revolutionary and the range of engines and transmissions satisfied most every need. This 528i represents the second year of E39 production and is equipped with the 5-speed manual gearbox, making it a good choice for 5er fans who want a more spirited drive.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW 528i on eBay

One-owner 1981 BMW 528i

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I love my E28 and it’s still the generation for me, but the earlier BMW model lineup intrigues me, piqued by the Bavaria down the street I bike by every day and ranging from the 2002 to the E9 and E12. Today’s example of the first BMW midsize sedan to truly be a 5er is impeccable, even after 130k miles thanks to one careful owner. The interior’s leather and wood combo looks fantastic over three decades on. There are a few bumps and dings, reflecting that it is a real car that has seen real use, but overall it shows the kind of love and attention that I wish all classic car owners would give to their autos, from the well-maintained engine bay to the impressively-clean tool tray. With no reserve and a low starting point, this could be a cheap entry into a great mix of classic luxury and sportiness.

Click for more details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

1979 BMW 528i

While the BMW faithful and converts have flocked to the E28 and E30 as the next collectable and drivable classics, nearly ignored in BMW history are the E21 and E12 predecessors; cars that both revolutionized the small luxury sport sedan market and set the stage for their more sought after replacements. If you’re not in as much of a hurry and don’t mind the more 70s, less 80s approach of the earlier cars, finding a clean example is a much cheaper proposition than the market stars that everyone is looking for. Truth be told, finding those clean examples – especially the E12 variety – can be difficult, but today there is a mint condition, lower mile 1979 528i example on Ebay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 528i on eBay