1988 BMW 535is “M535i” Clone

As I mentioned in the M635CSi post recently, some of the confusion about these “M” branded models came from the nomenclature between the E24 and E28. While the M6 and M5 co-existed in the United States market, they did not in Europe. This left the M635CSi to be the equivalent of the M6. But the same was not true of the M535i. This model was sold as a more affordable alternative to the M5; most of the look of the Motorsports model but without the bigger bills associated with the more exotic double overhead cam 24 valve M88/3. Instead, you got a 3.4 liter M30 under the hood just like the rest of the .35 models. The recipe was a success, selling around 10,000 examples in several different markets – but never in the U.S..

Instead, the U.S. market received the 535iS model. The iS model was specific to the North American market and gave you the look of the U.S.-bound M5, with deeper front and rear spoilers, M-crafted sport suspension and sport seats. It, too, was quite popular – between 1987 and 1988, just over 6,000 examples sold in the United States alone, and of those, a little more than half were the preferred manual variant. One of the nice aspects of the 535iS was that if you enjoyed colors other than black you were able to order the lesser model in any shade you wanted, unlike the M5.

Today’s 535iS is a bit special, as it’s combined the two models into one in an exhaustive recreation of a European market M535i starting with a Zinnoberrot 535iS:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M535i on eBay

1987 BMW 535iS

Some time last year I pulled into the parking lot of my university’s gym and spotted a student getting out of an E28 535iS. I walked over to compliment him on his ride. It had been ages since I had seen one on the road, and I had forgotten how neat they look. While his was saddled by an automatic transmission and a little rough around the edges, with the paint giving out all over the body, it still managed to look special. Because the iS is not really much more than a 535i with a fancy body kit and sport suspension, these cars haven’t yet begun to command the very high prices of the equivalent era M5, keeping them relatively affordable. I still haven’t yet entered full-on fanboy mode, but this video on Petrolicious, in which a young woman discusses her love for her E28 while driving it through sun-baked Californian streets, nearly sent me over the edge.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 535iS on Charlottesville, VA Craigslist

1988 BMW 535is

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We all look back fondly on our first car. I enjoyed my short time with my 1988 BMW 325is. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t opt for another BMW. Many of the new ones lack the smooth manual gearbox of BMWs of yore and fail to fully capture that “Ultimate Driving Machine” aura. But now, the older models aren’t as interesting to me as they once were. Skyrocketing prices have put many BMWs of the 1980s out of reach of enthusiasts of modest means. In addition, there seems to be a bit of a hipster aura about them, as they have become popular with those wanting to stand out. Perhaps I was an über hipster for driving an E30 back in 1998? Do I care? Not in the least. I buy things more on spur of the moment emotions.

While I scan through countless ads for E30 M3s, E24 coupes and the occasional 2002 or E21, every now and then a BMW from this era grabs my attention. This late model 535is for sale in Utah is one of them. Representing the final year for the E28, this particular 5er has an engine swap, packing a 3.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 from the E23 745i. It’s not an original car, but has had some upgrades and a bit of freshening to make it a bit more appealing. It’s not what you would consider concours, but would certainly make an eye-catching daily driver.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 535i on Cars.com

1987 BMW 535is

Following up on the few neat 5-series that Nate posted yesterday, let’s ponder the E28 535is. In many ways this was like the later 540i M-Sport; you got a sports suspension, interior and the look of the M5, but with a more mainstream and affordable motor. Is that a bad thing? The best part of three decades on, no – in fact, it makes ownership of an E28 a reality for many more people. As M5 prices head understandably up and towards where many have argued they should be since their inception, the 535is is still an affordable slice of 1980s BMW goodness:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 535is on eBay

1987 BMW 535is

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Ah, what a fun car to find right around the holidays. This 535is, resplendent in Santa’s Sleigh red. It’s about as clean as his sleigh would be leading up to the holidays too, with a decently redone interior and excellent respray sometime back. The E28 535is is an outstanding car, bringing a significant portion of the legendary M5’s allure at significantly reduced prices and a much wider selection of colors. It’s been a while since we’ve seen one this clean, with just 119k miles, but the huge caveat is the single-axis shifter, meaning it will be much more comfortable cruising rather than sprinting in the hills. But Santa needs something stylish, fast, and comfortable, and this E28 hits all the bases.

Click for details: 1987 BMW 535is on eBay

1988 BMW 535is/Euro M5 Conversion

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Hagerty has this car listed under BMW E28 M5s, but its origin as a 525is and ensuing plethora of modifications make it a difficult car to classify. It recently received a Euro exterior conversion after a huge modification list of aftermarket E28 parts and OEM M5 parts, creating a FrankenE28 that is truly impressive. Bored and stroked S38s in any chassis are the stuff dreams are made of, with this custom build’s 350hp usurping even the almighty S38B38. A Wilwood big brake kit and Dinan/Koni/Bilstein suspension set up deviate from staying too true to the M5, but a full M5 interior and trunk, including battery relocation, are classy and expensive conversions. While not a fully dedicated M5 tribute/conversion, this ticks all the boxes in the outstanding E28 category.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

1988 BMW 535is

Much like the 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport we saw over the weekend, the BMW E28 535is was a bit of junior M5. It featured many of the same styling cues along with sport seats and sports suspension. This was one of the last E28s to appear before the E34 5 series took over, being offered for the 1987 and 1988 model years. This particular 535is for sale in Texas has the desirable 5-speed gearbox and while it isn’t perfect, it has potential and looks mean sitting on 17″ BBS wheels.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535is on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW 535is Turbo

When did the BMW tuning crowd become the new Volkswagen tuning crowd? I must have missed the memo, but it appears that it certainly went out. In my search for modified cars, I come across quite a few; it seems that for every well modified car, though, there are a few examples that leave you wanting for more. More attention to detail, more refined taste, and in some cases more money spent. That money doesn’t have to be spent poorly – we’ve seen, for example, cars which aren’t the best examples but have great photographs somehow be more desirable than good examples with bad photos. Heck, in one Volkswagen post I even pointed out how the seller was at a car wash (and photographed the car there being washed – a new, and also completely pointless, Volkswagen tuning crowd trend) but then failed to vacuum the car out. Well, it would seem that some of the hallmarks of the Volkswagen crowd are spilling out into the all-too-popular 1980s BMW bandwagon. List out loud the details of this E28 and you’ll have the enthusiasts drooling; Zinnoberrot 535is with black leather, Brembo brakes, M-System II throwing stars, Bilstein and Racing Dynamics suspension, Alpina cam and cluster, and a custom 400 horsepower M30 under the hood. But in this case, I don’t think the result is greater than the sum of the parts:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535is Turbo on eBay

1987 BMW 535is

When I was a young driver, I was lucky enough to have a few mid 1980s BMWs in the family. My father had collected an assortment of some of the best; a 1982 633CSi, a 1985 635CSi, a 1988 M5 and a 1988 735i 5-speed. Of course, driving each of these cars, I felt in some measure invincible. Considering I had learned to drive on a 1984 Toyota pickup, these leather-lined inline-6 monsters might as well have been Ferrari Enzos. And as if an invitation to dip into that speed, the later 6 and 7 had factory hard-wired radar detectors. Not only was I at the wheel of a car capable of Saturn V levels of thrust, but it was also invisible. My cloaking device engaged, I’d speed down the roads; in hindsight, the who scene was probably similar to the pinnacle of the storyline in The Hunt For Red October as a torpedo closed in on the submarine. I’d stomp on the binders as soon as those beeps registered what was surely an entire squad of police setting up a roadblock for me. Oddly, they all seemed to occur around stores with automatic doors. Even more oddly, there never seemed to be any police there. And especially vexing was the total lack of response when you would drive past an actual police car. At first, I assumed they just had their systems off. I mean, why would BMW install a system in their car that didn’t work? But as the number of actual police speed that the radar detector picked up remained shocking close to zero, I began to be suspicious that this system had actually been installed merely to annoy me. I still get a chuckle every time I see them in older BMWs, such as this 1987 535is:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 535is on eBay

1987 BMW 535is

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The 535is was the first E28 that really caught my eye and led to my pursuit of the M5. Back then, the allure was just a very sharp 80s sedan with some subtle aggressive tweaks – exactly how I like it. There are at least two gorgeous red examples in my area, and the rare times I see them out are always a treat. Today’s example comes well-used, with a lot of miles and some general cosmetic love needed. The Borbet wheels will probably be polarizing, but I’ve seen worse choices. The biggest draw here is the no-reserve auction, and this could be a great entry point to the E28 life.

Click for details: 1987 BMW 535is on eBay