Press "Enter" to skip to content

1980 BMW M535i

It would be easy to credit the BMW M5 as the first super sedan, and in many ways, it is. With a motorsport-derived twin cam 24V inline-6 under the hood good for over 280 horsepower in Europe, the E28 M535i and M5 were nothing to trifle with. However, well before the Motorsports division of BMW had their way with the E28, they built the prototype for what would become the definitive sports sedan in the E12 M535i. Granted, the E12 didn’t have the super M1 motor under the hood. However, like the later M5 would, the E12 had upgraded brakes, a re-tuned suspension featuring unique springs and Bilstein shocks, a deep front air dam and rear spoiler and BBS mesh wheels. Because this was basically still the 1970s, they also received some spectacular Motorsports stripes outside to help differentiate them as something special. Inside you got special Recaro seats with a unique corduroy fabric and an M1 steering wheel – not a bad touch. All of that was coupled with the uncatalyst M30B34 seen in several other BMWs, good for 218 horsepower. It was in just about every way the stepping stone to creating the M5. They were even produced in similar numbers to the M5, with only around 1,400 made – 450 of them being right drive like this 1980 example for sale today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M535i on eBay

Year: 1980
Model: M535i
Engine: 3.5 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 144,000 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction

The vehicle is in extremely good condition,has been garaged for most of it’s life, has a minor dent which is very hard to see. I have extensive work done since it was purchased, eg, most of the hoses have changed,only done because of wear and tear,brakes have done,radiator,new fuel lines,clutch,tyres,only driven approximately once a month, serviced by a reputable BMW workshop. As far as I’m aware, it’s the only e12 M535I in Australia and one of only a few hundred registered world wide..Parts are readily available through Ebay and also a few BMW workshops here in Melbourne. As far as I know ther have only been 2 other owners since new, the last owner has had the car since the mid 1980’s, according to his wife it was gift for his 50th birthday. It has given me great pleasure driving the car,especially all the looks and thumbs up from other drivers.

The claim that it may be the only M535i in Australia is certainly belivable since they’re so scarce to begin with, moreso in proper right hand drive form for the British Empire. Condition of the car is hard to judge from the poor quality photos but it appears to be all there, and the description lists the sizable amount of work performed. Currently, there isn’t a strong demand on the E12 M535i like the growing presence of the E28 M5; we’ve seen some nice examples come up for sale but they seem to be stuck in the mid-teens, so we’re not likely to see this car sell easily in Australia at the opening bid of $18,000 even with no reserve. Even though at that amount you get a lot of performance in a classic BMW wrapper in a very limited production and important car, the appeal of the E12 in the mass market – even amongst BMW fans – doesn’t seem to be quite there yet.



  1. David B.
    David B. January 29, 2015

    Plus, I’d hate to think what that would cost to ship it from Australia to the east coast of the US

  2. grbbenny
    grbbenny January 30, 2015

    Seems to be a decent example – the model specific parts seem to be mostly there although the rear spoiler is incorrect (and NLA). I would guess the demand for a RHD car will be even less than the limited demand for the LHD versions. I struggled long and hard to achieve $18K for the one I sold via BaT a few months ago and it had a number of expensive modifications thrown into the mix. They are truly great cars though.

  3. Greg
    Greg February 3, 2015

    One of my all time favorite BMWs. My first BMW was an E12 528i and I had an opportunity to buy a decent one back in the 90s but it needed too much to get it up to my standards. I think eventually the market will realize these are essentially the original factory tuner cars, predating the E28 M5, 500E, Audi S4 etc. The problem is there are so few good ones left due to neglect and rust. Also the fact it had a standard 635csi/735i motor makes it somewhat less “special” than an M5. If BMW had used the M1 based M88/3 in this car rather than waiting until 1984 to use it in the M635 it would be a much more desirable car IMO. Regardless, I love them.

Comments are closed.