My recent coverage of the 5-series BMWs seems timely. Just last week, I looked at a 1982 BMW 528e. Since it’s been so short a time, I won’t reiterate the major highlights of the model again – click HERE if you’d like to read those details. So why look at what many consider the least excited E28 so quickly again?
Well, in part it’s because of what occurred this past weekend. If you weren’t paying attention, a stellar 1988 BMW 535i came up on Bring a Trailer. It was probably the most impressive older 5-series I’ve seen in a long time. So it was expected to bring pretty big numbers when the auction closed, and like looking through the picture gallery, it didn’t fail to disappoint. The final bid was $50,000 – unfathomable to this point for most of the E28 lineup.
Admittedly, the example I have today isn’t as nice. But it shares many things in common. First, it’s not a top-flight model, though again the Eta motor isn’t what many would prefer. So what does it have going for it?
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:
I find it pretty interesting that while the E30 and E28 market have really heated up, for whatever reason the E24 market seems to be relatively stagnant. For some time the big coupes held a price advantage over their siblings, but look in the right spot now and you can find a pretty good deal on a nice one. Case in point is today’s late run 633CSi. Now, I’ll admit that at least on paper the 633CSi might be the least appealing of the E24 lineup; the earlier 628 and 630 models were a bit prettier in their simplicity and 1970s style, the later 635 and L6 models were quicker, sportier and more luxurious and the M6 has the name and motor you want. But bear with me, because there’s actually quite a lot to like here:
Though they’re the juggernaut of BMW performance today, the reality is that there were quite a few stumbling blocks and it took many years for BMW Motorsport GmbH to establish themselves as the benchmark for German performance. Though many consider the M1 the genesis of BMW M, in fact the brand was born nearly a decade earlier with the introduction of the 3.0 CSL. The high performance E9 was built together with BMW’s competition department, a relationship which ultimately resulted in the birth of BMW’s Motorsport division. A few years later, the new entity would give birth to an equally legendary creation, the 2002 Turbo. But when it came to the first car to carry the “M” badge, it was of course the legendary M1 with its motorsport derived M88/1 double overhead cam inline six screaming in the middle of the car. You’d think this recipe carried over immediately to the sedan range, but that was not immediately the case. First, BMW produced the M535i in the E12 chassis. Though the E28 model of the same designation was mostly an appearance package, the E12 model was turned up over the rest of the range – but not with the M88; BMW instead relied on the M30 to power the M535i. Then, there was a year where nothing happened; the M1 was out of production, the E12 was replaced by the E28, and ostensibly BMW had no real performance models. That was remedied at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, where a juiced up version of the 635CSi was offered. It was labeled the M635CSi; but unlike the M535i, under the hood wasn’t the venerable M30 that powered the normal 635CSi. In its place, the Motorsport division decided to slot the M88, now with /3 designation; the result was 286 horsepower – a staggering figure at the time, considering that the contemporary Porsche 930 was considered fairly bonkers with a little over 300 horsepower and though it looked much larger, the early E24s only weighed about 200 lbs.…
Unicorns. They’re what automotive enthusiasts refer to as the cars that just can’t be found easily; they’re out there, people know they exist, but they just don’t come up for sale very often. Such is the case with today’s 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed; a car which very infrequently turns up for sale because of how devoted the owners of similar models are and how few were imported. While we see W8 6-speed sedans on an infrequent but semi-regular basis the wagons are just very hard to come by. How rare are they? W8s are pretty rare to see in any event, with only around 5,000 imported to the U.S.; but in the case of the 6-speed Variant, less that 100 were imported here – a reported 56 in 2003, and 42 in 2004. A decade on, figure a few of those have disappeared in crashes or other untimely deaths and you have yourself a very rare car, indeed:
Model: Passat W8 4Motion Variant
Engine: 4.0 liter W8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 95,000 mi
Price: Reserve Auction
YOU ARE BIDDING ON A VERY NICE 2003 VOLKSWAGON PASSAT W8 ALL WHEEL DRIVE WAGON!
DARK BLUE EXTERIOR
TAN LEATHER INTERIOR
275 HP -275 FT LBS
RARE 6 SPEED!
TRACTION CONTROL ABS BRAKES
SPORTS PACKAGE (FACTORY 17 INCH BBS WHEELS)
FAST FUN SAFE PRACTICAL!
HAUL THE FAMILY AND STILL HAVE GO FAST FUN!
BELOW ARE SOME OF THE NEW PARTS INSTALLED IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS:
Valve Cover Gaskets and spark plug hole seals
Front and rear temperature sending units and seals
Front vent hose valve cover to valve cover (front of motor)
Double Serpentine belt
Lower radiator hose
External balancer cogged belt and tensioner and all bolts
Water pump (metal impeller)
Front bumper/ motor mount
Both Front Axels
How rare is this car?…