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1985 BMW 524td

With the introduction of the 335d, X5 xDrive35d, we should look back to where the BMW diesel engine began, with the E28 5 series and the M21 2.4 liter turbo diesel. Here is a well preserved example with 100,000 miles for sale in Ohio.

1985 BMW 524td on eBay

This is my beautiful 1985 BMW 524td Turbo Diesel sedan with only 100,545 original miles. This is rare, beautifully made and high-performance BMW Turbo Diesel sedan. This is probably one of the nicest 524td models for sale anywhere in the country, if you can even FIND another one. There are probably only a few hundred of these cars still in existance.

At the time, this was the quickest-accelerating, fastest and QUIETEST diesel vehicle made in the world. Not to mention the superb fuel economy, outstanding reliablity and sports-car handling. This car would run circles around the contemporary diesels, the trucklike coffee-grinder Mercedes, pipsqueak slowpoke VW diesels and the ridiculously bad GM diesel 350s.

I am a specialty/classic car dealer and I have been searching for one of these elusive BMW diesels for years. I have put quite a few miles on the car and I really love this car. This was the best diesel vehicle in the world when it was made, and I have been very impressed with how this car compares to modern diesel cars. This 524td is downright QUICK- it accelerates very powerfully and runs along on the freeway at 80-90 mph without breaking a sweat. The handling is outstanding- my everyday car is a 2002 BMW 525i (gas), and this 26-year old BMW diesel will keep up with it in acceleration, easily out-handles the modern car and beats the pants off it in fuel economy. People’s experience with fuel economy ranges from about 33 mpg to into the 40’s. A lady I met who owns one of these claims to get 45 mpg.

This car is BETTER than the reputation it carries, which is already pretty darn good. This diesel engine is the smoothest, most free-revving diesel engine I have ever experienced. It has almost none of the traditional diesel clatter at idle, and once you’re driving you would never know that there’s an oil-burner under the hood. The torque is excellent, and the responsiveness is amazing. You put your foot down, and this old gal really hustles. When I wonder why they didn’t sell more of these when they were new, I’m reminded that they were incredibly expensive at time when most people’s experience with diesel cars involved smoky Oldmobiles and clattery Rabbits…

This car has the following equipment-

2.4L Turbo Diesel Inline-6 engine
4-speed automatic transmission
A/C- it blows ice-cold!
dual power seats
huge power moonroof
anti-lock brakes
cruise control
original BMW radio with tape player
block heater for winter
power windows and locks

This car was previously owned by the owner of a BMW repair shop, whose adult daughter drove the car every day. He has serviced the car for the past 10+ years- he acquired it from a customer of his who moved out of state and sold him the car. This car has been used and driven EVERY DAY. It is 100% reliable and dependable and it has no known mechanical problems. All of the service has been kept up, and I have most all the service records for the entire life of the vehicle- pages and pages of recent records plus records stamped in the owner’s manual going up to 1999. I would trust this car to drive cross-country with no trouble.

The engine is smooth and powerful, and the turbo boosts well. The tranmission shifts perfectly, and the brakes are great. The suspension is tight and stable, with absolutely no rattles or sloppiness. The steering is tight and there are handling is outstanding- this car handles like a sports car, no joke.

The paint and body are gorgeous. There are no exterior flaws of any significance- this car looks beautiful. The paint is glossy and in superb condition, and there aren’t any dings or dents. The aluminum wheels are in great shape and the tires are nearly new. The car has not been in any known accidents.

The interior is amazing- the seats and carpets are beautifully clean and in great shape. There is one tiny rip in the driver’s seat. As mentioned, the air conditioning works great and blows ice-cold.

This is a 26 year old car, and of course there are few problems to mention. One of the foglights is cracked. The power antenna is broken, but the radio still tunes in stations fine. The power locks work, but only from the passenger side and trunk. The glow plugs work fine, though it occasionally take a few seconds of cranks to start the car- in the owner’s manual it states that it can take up to 40 seconds, though it has never taken this long for me. It also has two leaks, the first is the fuel tank which has a small leak at the seam. It only leaks when there is more than 2/3 of a tank of fuel. The second leak is at a seal in the injection pump. It has had this same leak for 6 years and it has never gotten any worse, and the car still drives perfectly. If the BMW shop owner wasn’t worried enough to fix it, then neither am I. However he said it is a pretty straightforward fix and I could probably have him fix both leaks for the new owner for a couple hundred bucks. However that couple hundred bucks buys a lot of diesel fuel!

This is a clean, outstanding, beautiful BMW diesel. I can bet that you will not find a better one for sale anywhere. I love this car, and so will the new owner.

I was impressed by the seller’s thorough description and good pictures. This is an example of how to do an eBay auction right. It’s rather rare to see any E28 diesel for sale, and this one is quite possibly the best one would come across in a while, as there were very few of these models sold in the US. Interestingly enough, Lincoln used this very engine in 1984 and 1985 in a handful of Continental and MkVII to counter Cadillac and their diesel offerings.

I think it’s rather amusing, and somewhat sad, that about 25 years on, most cars this size struggle to get the kind of fuel economy this 524td returned. While I’ve never driven one of these, from what I’ve read, they seem to be a more sporty alternative to the more common Mercedes-Benz diesels of the day. I’d surely take this 5er over a hybrid any day, even considering the repairs one would be looking at over the course of ownership.



  1. Tom Jones
    Tom Jones October 5, 2011

    This one is a little bit more special since it is a later one with the ABS. Earlier 524td’s did not have ABS. Very nice looking example!

  2. Karma Cola
    Karma Cola October 6, 2011

    Any idea how much this car is worth/will sell for? I have been eyeing Mercedes 300Ds from the 80s but the prices are all over the map. I think this will go for at least 7k given the superb condition!

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. October 6, 2011

    I think we’re probably going to see this one go in the $6,000 to $7,000 range, but one can never be sure.

  4. Karma Cola
    Karma Cola October 6, 2011

    hmmm now I am thinking of bidding on it.. I read somewhere that there are probably only 100 or so of these cars still on the road – how hard do you think it would be to get spare parts? I love diesels for their low maintenance though, so hopefully ownership costs on this classic will be low(er) than feared!

  5. Paul
    Paul October 6, 2011

    These were not common cars here, so certain parts could be scarce. parts may be scarce, even at a BMW dealer. Your best bet would be to join the BMW Car Club of America, as this would be a good avenue for aftermarket parts and advice. Autohaus, an Arizona company, carries parts for the 524:

    As with any car, buy the best you can, and this example surely would be at the top of that list.

  6. Karma Cola
    Karma Cola October 11, 2011

    I bid a hair over 6k and was pipped at the finish line – thanks everyone for your help! Will keep looking for similar diesels…

  7. Paul H.
    Paul H. October 11, 2011

    Ah, that’s a shame. Looked like a nice car. Looks like I was pretty spot on in guessing the value of this one.

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