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

Budget V12: 1998 BMW 750iL

Budget V12: 1998 BMW 750iL

Do you only have $7k to spend on a car? Do you still want to look like a BOSS?

Then you should buy this E38 750iL. That is, of course, after you’ve put it through a PPI to make sure it isn’t about to grenade, and talked with your bank manager (slash significant other) to check you can afford the fuel and maintenance on this V12-powered cruise missile. The long-wheelbase E38 7-series is a real bruiser and a looker, especially in black: a behemoth in a bespoke suit. And while the electronics on BMW’s V12 motors are notoriously expensive to fix when they go wrong, the 5.4 liter SOHC M73 engine itself is fairly reliable. While power output at 320 hp is relatively modest for such a large lump, there’s plenty of low-down torque, the unit doesn’t suffer from the timing chain/guide failures that afflict V8s from the same era and, according to some on the forums, even manages to return a reasonable 24 MPG on the highway. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. The relatively puny M50 six cylinder in my E34 only manages a few more than that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 750iL on eBay

1987 BMW 535iS

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 535i

1988 BMW 535i

With its shark nosed, classically cool styling the E28 is a firm favorite among fans of 80s BMWs, but it’s the M5 and 535iS variants that get most of the attention. It’s not hard to see why. The M5 based on this platform was one of the first super sedans, laying down the classic formula for all modern Q-ships: supreme performance packaged in a stealthy, unassuming exterior. Meanwhile the 535iS appealed to those who wanted a bit of flash but couldn’t quite afford the full cream M-car, and was really just a 535i with firmer suspension, bodykit and sport seats. That isn’t a bad thing. The underlying car, introduced as a range-topper in 1984, was a winner, marrying the bulletproof M30 3.4 liter straight six engine (good for about 182 hp, in US emissions restricted form) with a tractable and responsive chassis. A regular 535i with a manual gearbox therefore offers a fun and relatively affordable alternative to the more expensive E28s out there.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i on eBay

Eye of the Survivor: 1983 BMW 528e

Eye of the Survivor: 1983 BMW 528e

It’s funny how priorities change. A decade ago, I would not have given a second look to a 528e. Growing up with a E28 M5 in the garage created both an appreciation for the E28 and the dichotomous dismissal of lower range vehicles. Sure, the M5-look 535is was cool, and alongside the M5 we even had a very nice ’85 535i that was a pretty good driver. But below that? No, I seldom gave the 533i, 528e or even 524td a second look on the road. Today, though? Even if it’s not a performance car by most standards, a survivor 528e is certainly worth a second look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 528e on eBay

1985 BMW 528e

1985 BMW 528e

1The 528e is a bit of an odd duck. The product of the oil crisis of the late 70s and early 80s, this was essentially a gasoline engined car that attempted to mimic the frugality of a diesel, at a time when BMW was yet to bring a diesel engine to the US market (the e stands for “efficiency”). Powered by a 2.7 liter, de-tuned version of the inline-six cylinder M20 motor, what you got was a car that offered all the good looks of the E28 5-series, but with none of the performance to back it up. In other words, you bought this car to drive cheaply and slowly with a bit of German style and sophistication.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 528e on eBay

1988 BMW 535is

1988 BMW 535is

3

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

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5

All Black Everything: 1988 BMW M5

Following up on Craig’s Euro-spec Diamond Schwarz Metallic E24 comes an unusual E28 M5. There were a few things that caught my eye about this car; first off, Rhode Island is a small community and I feel like I know a pretty good percentage of the E28 M5s that live here, but this one was new to me. Not only was that unique, but the seller was selling two, with a 4-post black/black E34 to nicely compliment the original model. More things stuck out, though; immediately, the European bumpers and lights are a neat look, but it was inside and the black leather that really helps to set this car apart. About a month ago, Nate looked at a sacrilegious turbo swapped M5 with a non-stock black leather, but this one is claimed to be one of the original 101 all-black M5s imported to North America:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M5 on Providence Craigslist

1988 BMW M5 M30 Turbo Swap

1988 BMW M5 M30 Turbo Swap

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Typically the legendary S38B35 is an engine that gets swapped into other BMWs, now out of them, but today we’re playing opposite day with this No-Effs-Given E28 M5. A little while back it received a turbocharged M30 transplant which is a pretty common setup for E28s – just usually done on more pedestrian models than the extremely rare M. A unique aspect to this auction is that the S38 comes with it, so you have the opportunity to ride the turbo monster as long as you please while retaining the prospect of putting the numbers-matching engine back in eventually. Even so, any hopes of originality are long gone after they spray coated the floor rooting out some rust, replaced the wheel and shift knob with anachronistic wooden parts, and spray painted the homebrew center console to accommodate auxiliary gauges. The one thing that I actually do think is original, contrary to the seller’s claim, is the black interior. With all seats, door cards, and interior trim in black, and miles instead of km, I think this may well be one of the 31 US M5s with black interiors (more than 2 the seller thinks they made, but still an extreme rarity).

This M5 has been hacked and sprayed to the point that it will forever be valued more like an E28 rather than the second-rarest M car. It looks pretty darn good from the outside, albeit modified with later wheels and yellow lenses, and the S38 alone could recoup a serious chunk of the purchase price. It’s already into 5-digits with a long time left on the auction and looks like this basket case M5 with its heart in a box will still pull decent money.

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

1985 Alpina B7 Turbo

1985 Alpina B7 Turbo

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We’ve been having some fun with Alpinas recently, and the seller that brought us Carter’s E12 B7 Turbo is back again with a sexy E28 B7 Turbo. The E12 and E28 always look similar, and in grey with gold Alpina stripes these two examples further that notion, though the closed-lug 20-spokes help this 1985 B7 look a bit more modern. It’s No. 46 out of the 236-car run and is in beautiful shape thanks to good care and a repaint a while back. The stripes are still there, however, as well as the monster 300hp M30 turbo. The interior looks clean but 31 years old and used, though much better than the normal E28 wear on the seats. Other than that, from the Alpina-green toolkit to the gold name emblazoned across the front spoiler looks to be spotless and perfect.

Click for details: 1985 Alpina B7 Turbo on eBay

1987 BMW 528e

1987 BMW 528e

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This beautiful Burgundy 528e is one of the nicer non-M E28s we’ve seen in a while. The red and brown tones come together to underscore what this model is all about. The eta-engined Bimmers of the late 80s were value judgments from the get-go – are you ok with going a little slower in exchange for torque and fuel mileage? If so, you’ll still get the handling and killer good looks of the E28 while being primed to crush long miles without heading to the gas station every few minutes like in my M5. There are some compromises to be made with this particular example as well, like accepting that the real mileage is unknown due to a replaced cluster and knowing there are a couple small spots of surface rust hiding in the Burgundy next to seams. The flip side is extremely conservative bidding on the no-reserve auction for this nice daily-driver quality E28.

Click for details: 1987 BMW 528e on eBay

1988 BMW M5

1988 BMW M5

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I have no false hope that my 225k-mile E28 M5 is going to follow the low-mileage examples into the upper-five-figure price range, but it is fascinating to see where the mere mortal examples are ending up. The wrong-wheeled rustbucket I wrote up a while back almost hit $13k on its auction, a number almost as shocking as the $60k M5s on eBay. This E28 is hardly the dumpster-dive of Mr. Rusty, but the blemishes are plentiful. The clearcoat is failing on the roof, it has the classic 80’s bumper waves and dash cracks, the driver’s seat is conspicuously omitted from pictures, and the engine compartment has some surface rust showing. On the flip side, the trunk’s carpet set is complete, which will make you then envy of a plurality of the owners on mye28.com (me included). It sounds like it runs well and hasn’t been outright abused or neglected; it’s just a rare car that looks to have lived a pretty average 28 years. The reserve is still on with bids up to $14k. Compared to the rust-bucket, where will a high-mileage, 6/10 E28 M5 land?

Click for details: 1988 BMW M5 on eBay

1987 BMW 535is

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

1988 BMW 535i Alpina Tribute – Revisit

1988 BMW 535i Alpina Tribute – Revisit


“This is not the greatest E28 in the world, no –
This is just a tribute.”

Yet again, the “Manofied Racing” Alpina tribute – a well thought-out and thorough interpretation – is back on eBay. It popped up twice a couple of years ago, a few months apart, but obviously had no bites at $32,500. Two years on it has received a respray but lost its Alpina stripes on everything but the front and rear flight decks. Despite the impressive boom in the ’80s BMW market, this one apparently didn’t get to set whatever price the seller deemed more than generous. It’s down to $25k now, but I’m guessing a low-$20ks offer might get a serious discussion started.

-NR

The below post originally appeared on our site April 15, 2014:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i Alpina Tribute on eBay