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

1979 BMW 525

The 1977 BMW 525 I looked at in June was a reminder that the E12 was a pretty simple car. It was lovely, too, and I was likely drawn to it by the Amazonitgrün Metallic paint – a hue in many ways mirrored by the Phoenix Yellow Metallic of the E46 M3. But while it looked really great, there was a major issue in that the car’s home location was Bulgaria. While importation wouldn’t be impossible and the asking price was reasonable, the expense of importing such a bare-bones model here would probably have most Bimmer fans questioning the sanity of someone who would do such a thing.

What if, though, it were already in the ‘Land of the Free’?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 525 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1981 Alpina B7 Turbo

“If you’re looking at this ad, you know what it is. Yes, this is the real deal.”

It was a simple, straightforward solution – but its effect was profound. By adding a KKK K27 turbocharger to BMW’s M30 inline-6, Alpina made quite a splash and firmly cemented its name in the hallowed halls of the ‘World’s Best Tuners’. The result of that marriage coupled with adjustable boost, an intercooler and special injection was 300 horsepower and 340 lb.ft of torque – in 1978! Even the much lauded and celebrated Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera had less power from more displacement; the 3.3 turbo flat-6 produced 265 horsepower and 291 lb.ft of torque. If the Porsche 911 Turbo was a supercar killer, the B7 Turbo was a 4-door 911 assassin. The Alpina was the real deal, and ever since then they’ve been at the sharp end of the world’s fastest sedans.

Beyond just looks, the Buchloe firm of course added signature deep chin and pronounced trunk spoilers. Large (for the period) 16″ alloy wheels wore 225 section tires in the rear to help transfer that power, while specially specified Bilstein shocks were mated with stiffened and lowered Alpina-spec springs and sway bars. Inside, Sheel seats were outfit with Alpina’s beautiful striping, while extra gauge pods read out critical engine performance measures.

A total of 149 of these sedans were produced, each in a slightly different and unique specification with numbered dash plaques. This example, #209, was specified in Sapphire Blue Metallic with Alpina’s bespoke cloth:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Alpina B7 Turbo on Seattle Craigslist

1975 BMW 530i

3The E12 was the first sedan from BMW to wear the 5-series badge. Available in the US only as a six cylinder model, it was sold here in two guises: the 530i (1975-1978) and the 528i (1979-1981). The classic, Paul Bracq-styled design was, and remains, a winner. However, the E12 is mostly remembered for its numerous flaws. Like a lot of European imports from the time, US market cars were burdened by less powerful, emissions-restricted engines and ugly, 5mph crash resistant bumpers. The 528 incorporated thermal reactors as part of its emissions control system and these had a tendency to overheat the engine bay, causing cracking or warping of the cylinder heads. The air conditioning was rubbish. The handling could be twitchy. The gas mileage was pretty awful. The bodies were particularly susceptible to rust, which is why most of them ended up in junkyards long ago. Still, I have a lot of time for these cars mostly because they are so handsome. Since there are so few of them left it’s always a pleasant surprise to find a nice looking survivor like this one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1975 BMW 530i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1982 Alpina B7 Turbo

It is with some eager anticipation I open my browser every week and search for the next interesting tuner car for today’s signature feature. Because of the explosion of the internet and the shrinking of the world coupled with trends in classic 1980s cars, the playing field has become littered with interesting period examples of cutting edge tuning technology. And for that it seems we have to thank Japan, since a majority of the classic AMG, Alpina and even Ruf cars are rolling back through Europe and into America from the land of the rising sun. Today’s star draft pick is one of the best players to emerge from the 1980s – the Alpina B7 Turbo. It was, for some time, the fastest sedan in the world, besting even BMW’s own Motorsport division entrants. With adjustable boost trimmed to 300 horsepower, only cars like Porsche’s 930 or some exotics could keep up. Today’s B7 – number 251 – has traveled around the world and back but is set to make the next leg of the journey:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Alpina B7 Turbo 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

Tuner Tuesday Mega Tuner Showdown: Dinan v. AMG v. Treser v. Alpina v. Ruf

I’m always a fan of the showdown posts; no surprise, since I think I’m the only one who does them here! While it’s nice to highlight one car at a time, I’m just a fan of the opportunity costs; considering what my money could go towards otherwise. Plus, though we see comparisons of new cars in magazines and online fora, it’s not often that we have comparos including nearly 40 year old cars. While I usually highlight this type of comparison in my 10K Friday posts, today is a bit different and I believe the first time I have a showdown on Tuner Tuesday. I’ve rounded up a quintet of neat cars that are all modified from stock by some of the most famous tuners of the 1980s; which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Audi Quattro on eBay

Alpina Double Take: 1976 520i and 1983 B9 3.5

We’ve had the pleasure of looking at some pretty cool European and Japanese market Alpinas lately, and another two popped up that were worth considering. One is a B9 3.5; we’ve seen a few of these from the same seller, and this one looks as exceptional as the seller’s previous offerings. Interestingly, where the seller previously had listed the cars on reserve, this time they give us an entry price. The second example is a bit more of a mystery; an Alpina liveried E12, it looks more like an assemblage of parts than an actual original Alpina car. Let’s start there:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 BMW 520i on eBay

1978 BMW 530i – REVISIT

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The 1978 BMW 530i that Carter featured last September has reappeared, once again with a reserve. It’s not everyday you see an E12 in survivor condition, so let’s appreciate this car for what it is and reflect upon the first in a series of what would be some of the world’s favorite sport sedans.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 BMW 530i on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site May 31, 2015:

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