1987 BMW M535i

1987 BMW M535i

While BMW Motorsport GmbH has a lengthy reputation for conceiving and building some of the most legendary icons of the 1980s, since their inception they’ve also had their hand in clever badge-engineered products intended to bring the magic of M to a larger audience. Starting with the E12 in the 1970s and continuing through today, first to hit the market was the “M535i”. Effectively, these were standard 5-series models with M-Technic bits added for a splash of style, but they lacked the higher-performance “S” (or M88/3, in the case of the M5) motors of their more potent siblings. But they certainly looked the part, with hunkered-down exteriors with deep chin spoilers, side skirts and rear valance and spoiler. Special M-Technic wheels were added to the E28 model which channeled aspects of the M1’s Campagnolo design coupled with hints of the original 1972 Turbo concept wheels. Inside a sport interior was met with more M-Tech details. Just as today, though mechanically these cars were appearance packages rather than performance-oriented, they’re nonetheless quite special indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW M535i on eBay

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

//Motivated: 1987 BMW 525i M5 Clone

Market speculation about M values is nothing new. Indeed, head back to the launch of the U.S. M5 and you’ll find evidence immediately. In Europe, the M5 launched for the 1985 market year and was so successful, BMW announced in 1986 they’d bring 500 of the M5s over. They immediately were all spoken for, and consequently when the production actually started in 1987, BMW made more – not a lot more, mind you, but the 1,340 produced for North America was nearly triple what was originally forecast.

Consequently, owners who felt the collector value of their M5 had been dashed by this glut of examples sued the company in 1991. Further, the model was relatively abandoned by all but the most devoted enthusiasts in the 1990s for bigger, badder and faster modern sedans. But today it’s back with a vengeance, with clean examples fetching more than what they were priced at new. It therefore makes a little bit of sense that someone would have gone through all of the trouble to mimeograph the transformative super-sedan’s blueprint onto a lesser example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 525i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 Sport 2.5

Though ultimately not as well known as Alpina, AC Schnitzer replaced the more famous brand a the defacto factory race team in the late 1970s and 1980s. To capitalize on their success at the race track (including the successful campaigns in the DTM), in 1987 AC Schnitzer launched their first brand-specific model based upon the new E32. That was followed by a more sporty E30-based model, dubbed the ACS3 Sport in 1989. It was available based upon either a normal 3-series, or those with a bunch of dough could opt to allow Schnitzer to modify their prized M3. And modify it did; subtle changes outside included revised mirrors, a light change to the rear end and a single-wiper conversion to really channel the DTM spirit. Wheels were either 17″ multi-piece Schnitzer design, or the ever-popular BBS RS model in 16″x8 or 9. As Alpina did, Schnitzer included their own steering wheel (4 options available), a numbered plaque, bespoke suspension 20mm lower than the standard ride height, and a unique rectangular-tipped exhaust. However, the real treat was the full 2.5 conversion, which really packed some extra power in the S14. Schnitzer brought the total displacement to 2,431 cc – just shy of the 2,467 BMW themselves would produce in the 1990 Sport Evolution. Coupled with a revised DME, the S3 Sport 2.5 produced an impressive 245 horsepower. They are exceedingly rare to come across, but our reader Daniel spotted this fully converted 1988 example for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 AC Schnitzer S3 2.5 at Garage Current

Feature Listing: 1991 Alpina B12 5.0

Feature Listing: 1991 Alpina B12 5.0

I was quite lucky as a teenager to have some pretty serious metal from Bavaria to cut my teeth on. My father had gotten quite into 1980s BMWs, so we had a few 6-series and even a M5 in the house. But it was the “family” car that I liked the most, believe it or not. That family car was a pretty special one as it was an E32 735i 5-speed. The manual in the large body car might be a bit of an aberration, but as a whole package the E32 was a great car. It was fantastic to drive and felt much lighter on its feet than the size would indicate. It was comfortable, too, in either front or back posts, with rich smelling leather, a modern climate control system and a great sounding stereo. It was a car which ate up highway miles with ease, and outside it was quite a looker, too. It managed to look both more substantial and much better proportioned than the E23, finally integrating the mandated bumpers well into a design that was market leading. In fact, the only area I ever really felt our E32 could have used some help in was to have a bit more motor.

Of course, BMW offered a revolutionary motor in the 750i. It was the first of the big three luxury brands to make the leap to a modern V12, and the M70B50 was a pretty impressive motor on paper. With 300 horsepower from 5.0 liters, it was nearly 100 horsepower north of the M30 mill in our 735i and smooth as silk. As the years progressed though, the M70’s power was nearly matched by the lighter M60 and there was somehow a loss of exuberance about the V12 as a new run of V8 motors proved the impressive mainstays.…

1986 BMW M635CSi Euro

1986 BMW M635CSi Euro

The other day my wife texted me a picture of an E24 she’d spotted while biking home from work. “It’s gorgeous!” she wrote. I went to have a look at it for myself; you can see the picture I took of it here. It was a 635CSi, parked a few blocks away from the White House with a license plate that read “1LADY.” I can only hope that this means Michelle Obama surreptitiously drives a shark nose when not traveling in the official motorcade. While that particular car was a little worn when seen from close up, with broken bits of trim and some scuffs on the front bumper, even in less than stellar condition it reminded me of just how beautiful these elegant grand tourers are. I haven’t seen or thought of an old 6-series for a while, and that put me on the hunt for a nice one to write up for today.

While I toyed with the idea of featuring a lesser, cheaper model – there are certainly a few knocking around on Craigslist and eBay right now –  ultimately I opted for a car that’s a bit special. This utterly gorgeous, low mileage and mint condition European-spec M635CSi is listed on US eBay, but it’s actually located in Portugal. I’m guessing that anyone who can afford to bid on this car will have no trouble paying for the associated costs of bringing it over.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW M635CSi on eBay

Less is More? 1990 BMW 320is

Less is More? 1990 BMW 320is

The perfect counterpoint to Volkswagen’s GLi 16V like the one we featured earlier has to be the BMW 320is. Ostensibly, these two cars were aimed at close to the same market although the BMW was a fair chunk of change more expensive than the Jetta. But both were sports sedans, both came only as manuals, both had BBS wheels, grippy Recaro seats and sport suspension, and critically both featured a 2 liter 16V motor. But it’s there where the similarities end, because while Volkswagen rung 134 horsepower out of the 9A, BMW squeezed a seemingly unbelievable (for the time) 192 horsepower out of the lower displacement S14. For some time, the 100 hp/liter mark was considered about as good as naturally aspirated motors got and the 320is was hauntingly close with 192 ponies from 1,990 CCs – proportionately, more powerful than the larger 2.3 and 2.5 variants. We’ve previously covered this model a few times and so won’t go into lengthy detail about the history (plus, some of it is included in the listing), but if you wanted to understand why you’d pay more for one of these BMWs in the late 80s, that engineering feat alone was a good indication. As the E30 market has been red hot and importation becomes possible for more of these cars, we keep seeing them pop up:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 320is on eBay

1987 BMW 528e Euro-Spec

1987 BMW 528e Euro-Spec

The allure of European specification cars from the 1980s is great with me. Beyond being equipped with items that never made it to the U.S., there’s the look – especially when it came to BMW and Mercedes-Benz models. Audi’s mid-80s refresh and updated bumper skins meant that by 1985 it was hard to tell the difference outside of the headlight glass; contrast that with this BMW 528e. While I’m sure there is a devoted U.S.-spec 528e fanbase somewhere, it is really low on the appeal spectrum when you consider the 535is and M5 that ran alongside it. Usually presented in drab and unpolished tones, the 528e has always struck me a bit as a German speaking Eeyore. However, revert the car to its original European specification, and suddenly it’s a different ball game. Slimmed down and cleaned up, it’s a smart looking sedan again – and few appear in this condition:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 BMW 528e on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1990 Hartge H5SP

Tuner Tuesday: 1990 Hartge H5SP

Hartge has never really enjoyed the popularity of Alpina, just as the E34 doesn’t enjoy the popularity of the bookends to its production run – the E28 and E39. There are a myriad of reasons for both occurrences, but the result is that for the discerning individual who would like a potential future classic on an affordable budget, the E34 is a great chassis to consider. Solid build quality, good looks and plenty of luxury combined for a genuinely lovely experience. Even in the small motored 525i, the E34 was an entertaining drive when coupled with a manual transmission – I spent many hours at the wheel of the 1995 example my family owned for several years, and while a few times I wished it was an M5, I never was really left disappointed. Move to the bigger brother 535i and you’ve got more go under your right foot – and if you introduce a host of Hartge bits coupled with a Japanese build from famed tuner Tommykaira, you’ve got one interesting and future collectable driver’s car:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Hartge H5SP on eBay

U.S. or ROW? 1985 BMW 635CSi Euro-spec vs. U.S.-spec

U.S. or ROW? 1985 BMW 635CSi Euro-spec vs. U.S.-spec

I bang on about how much I prefer the look of the European market cars from the 1980s over the U.S. spec cars, and this is especially true amongst BMWs. For some reason, the powers that be at BMW decided to do the worst integration of DOT bumpers of all the European manufacturers; it was almost as if they said “Oh yeah? Well, take this, then!” Bulky, with too much plastic, rubber accordions and fading stainless trim, they stand out as a stark reminder of how simple and pretty the European bumpers on many of the same models were. However, it’s not often that we get to see two very similar models for sale at the same time; today, however, there are two nearly identical BMW 635CSis on eBay. Both are 1985, dark metallic colors, red leather, 5-speed manuals and updated wheels – and in their own way, each is lovely. Does the Euro-spec car win out for me once again?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 635CSi Euro-spec on eBay