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No-reserve 1988 BMW 535is for sale

I’ve recently been fascinated with the 80s Bimmer “is” models as more affordable substitutes for the astronomical-and-climbing E30 M3 and E28 M5. The 325is is looking more and more like it will be my first foray into BMW ownership, but I keep getting hung up on the 535is. It has all the looks of the M5, and while it’s down about to the Vader M by about 100hp, it still produces a healthy and torquey 185hp with suspension upgrades. It also eschews the M5’s Ford Model T-esque color choices for some great colors, like today’s well-maintained Royal Blue example.

Description and a long list of “taken care-of’s” from the seller:

I am selling a excellent example of an E28 BMW. This 1988 535iS is Royal Blue with Pearl Beige interior. It has a 5speed.

It came from BMW with Electric Sport Seats, OBC, MTech Spoiler, AC, P/S, P/B, P/W

I am the 3rd owner and I have ALL the paperwork for this car since new. It was bought in San Francisco and came to Las Vegas with the 2nd owner.

This is the work done since I have had the car (June 2010)

Front Euro Plate
Fan and Fan Clutch
Water Pump
Water Res.
Plug Wires
K&N Filter
Dist. Cap
W/S Washer pump and cap
Bilstein Shocks
H&R Springs
Brake Fluid Flush
Sun Visors
Speedo Gears
Shift Boot
Shift Knob
Sisal Floor Mats
Redeye Seats and Console
New Headliner
New Radio
New Tweater Speakers
New Cowl Vents
New S/R Seals
New Rear Window Seals
New Trunk Seal
Exhaust Tips
New Fuel Injectors – Bosch Gen III 19lb
New Starter
New Radiator temp switches
New Auxiliary fan
New AFM intake couplers
New AC switch
Coolant Flush
New Diff fluid
New brake res. Grommets
New P/S Filter
Taillight bulb upgrade (much brighter)
New Antenna
New rear window chrome trim
Style 5 16” wheels and new tires (Falken 452)
E34 540i rebuilt front/rear brakes/Hawk pads/disks/SS hoses
Rear Headrests
Dash Top Vent
Clear Front T/S lenses
Conforti/Turner Chip
3.73 Diff w/reseal
Short Shifter
Trans Service
Replaced Guibo
Underhood Insulation
New w/s washer hose
M Sport Emblems on Wheels/Steering Wheel
Dash Cap

This car is an excellent example of a 535is. There are currently no pending maintenance issues.

ISSUE: there is some cracking of the paint on the roof…I believe the car has been repainted and the paint seems to have cracked. It is not visible until you are close.

Dash is cracked but there is a cap on it.

The thoroughness of the maintenance is encouraging, and makes the 168k miles seem not so bad, especially given the robust nature of the M30. The creamy leather is in great condition and while the respray may not be perfect, I find the deep almost-gray blue to be really attractive and just begging for some Alpina wheels. The $6k Buy-it-Now seems extremely fair given the condition, and I am extremely tempted.



  1. Kevin
    Kevin May 11, 2011

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the E28s, particularly in 535i arrangement.

    The M30 big six is a very stout motor – I’ve seen them go for 250K-300K miles with good maintenance.

    Some of the electrics tend to be problematic on the E28 cars, particularly the seat adjusters and the power windows. Also, control arms and bushings are a known problem area as well.

    Let’s face it, finding any good car for $6000 or less is tough, but this one at least appears to be one of the better examples.

  2. Joe
    Joe May 11, 2011

    I love these E28 535is – classic styling that never gets old. This color combo is a good one. I thought very hard about buying one a few years ago, but had to find something a little more practical for daily driving in Minnesota. It’s hard to believe this car has 190K miles – the cosmetics look so good. The seller has paperwork from new and lots has already been done to the car. For $6K, it’s hard to go wrong. I agree with you Nate, period Alpina wheels would be icing on the cake.

  3. Nate
    Nate May 11, 2011

    You guys are just making me want it more! I may have to actually get one after this summer.

  4. Bob
    Bob May 11, 2011

    WHat are you waiting for. That guy must have got the car free to have put that much maintenance into it. My Brother had a 535 IS. Just a great car to drive and really well built. can’t go wrong if it is straight.

  5. Nate
    Nate May 11, 2011

    Funds, unfortunately. Won’t be a problem after summer, but can’t until then. Excited to hear it’s a worthy dream though.

  6. sofaman
    sofaman May 12, 2011

    Nate, great find. You owe yourself a test drive of the E30 and E28 to see which really fits your driving preference. I really like the E30 and almost bought one on a few occasions. But having owned a 1988 535i, I can say it gives a quite a different driving experience.

    The 3.5 six is just such a different feeling engine, it is tough to compare the two. When that baby climbs up to the upper rev range,there is just magic.

    Obviously, you give up a bit of agility because of the size difference, but the E28 is not a ‘big’ car, and its torque allows it to just go when you ask it to go.

    Personally I really like the square-jaw styling of the E28, and for us tall guys, there’s gobs of leg room. To me the main issue is now value. This particular 535is just sold for $5,400. Because of the rise in popularity of the E30 could you find an equal condition car for the same price?

    In my opinion, E28s are quite undervalued, and as you pointed out, the ‘is’ is the best value of the series.

  7. Larry
    Larry May 12, 2011

    Sold for $5400

  8. Joe
    Joe May 12, 2011

    I thought $6K was a fair price. $5400 is even better!

Comments are closed.