You can’t walk two steps into the E28 community without confronting someone looking for Euro bumpers and lights, selling them, or yelling about how much better they look than the diving boards. For many, the cost of sourcing the parts, hacking up the ends of their 5er, and welding in smaller bits is worth it. The more authentic route is to find a true Euro market car, like today’s ’84 520i. It has passed between serious enthusiasts for quite some time, and is now being sold in favor of an E30 M3 project. I’m typically a go before show car guy, but I enjoy seeing people who daily drive low, unique cars just like this one.
The slammed XYZ suspension and reproduction Hartge front spoiler indicate that this 520i is far from stock, with an M20B25 out of an E30 and a serious amount of effort put into redoing all the mounts and inner bits to make daily driving a reality as long as you don’t have to confront such mountains as a slightly inclined driveway, or perhaps a small speedbump. After the effort gone into making this a head-turning daily Euro, the seller is thinking he can get very strong E28 money.
There was a lot of changes in store for BMW in the late 1980s. In 1987, a larger, more powerful 7 series debuted with the option of a brand new V12 engine, the 3 series convertible would capture the hearts and minds of yuppies across the US and a new 5 series would debut in 1988. However, the E28 wasn’t done for that easily and would continue being sold through the end of the model year. This 520i for sale in Florida is a model we never saw in the US market, with a 2.0 liter inline-6 that found it’s way under the hood of a number other BMWs in other markets. While some pine for the crash bumper look of the 1980s BMWs, I tend to prefer the slimmer Euro bumpers of this particular car, lending a bit of a cleaner look.
We’ve had the pleasure of looking at some pretty cool European and Japanese market Alpinas lately, and another two popped up that were worth considering. One is a B9 3.5; we’ve seen a few of these from the same seller, and this one looks as exceptional as the seller’s previous offerings. Interestingly, where the seller previously had listed the cars on reserve, this time they give us an entry price. The second example is a bit more of a mystery; an Alpina liveried E12, it looks more like an assemblage of parts than an actual original Alpina car. Let’s start there:
One of the people that really helped me see the legitimacy in having cars as a hobby is my uncle, who has had an eclectic collection of Chevys as long as I can remember. In my early days, many were Raiders-themed, from the black and white Nomad to a metallic black Chevy Van with fully-embroidered Raiders interior. The one that has lasted longest and remains one of the coolest, however, is an homage to old fire chief’s cars (he was an LA fireman his entire working life), made from a ’56 4-door Bel Air with goldleaf type, working sirens, and a V8 so loud I got my first experience of one car setting others’ alarms off. My M5 takes care of that last endeavor these days, but “Chiefy” does leave a soft spot in my heart for today’s E34 Firecar. The 2.0 liter may not be setting off any car alarms, but the utilitarianism of the various vehicles used as emergency assistance cars in Europe has always been cool to me. With less than 90k miles, three pedals, and an interesting cloth/leather interior combo, it would be a fun car. Probably not worth importing unless you’re a fireman who happens to be obsessed with BMWs – if you’re that guy, you’re my hero.
Editor Paul has recently returned from some time in Europe, and beyond his fantastic photos of forbidden fruit has brought back some entertaining ideas regarding importation. While importing a car from Bulgaria may sound like a sideplot in a Borat movie and/or Top Gear segment, there is no question that the Euro look is highly regarded and that E28 fanatics are ready to cough up plenty of money to buy imports or convert US-spec models. Even with shipping, this 520i would probably end up cheaper than converting a US car and would lend an extra dose of credence. You could sell it to someone who wants to restore and swap it, or you could do that yourself. Hard to say how you’d get a solid PPI by anyone who spoke English let along a real mechanic, but hey – small bumpers!
Engine: 2.0 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
BMW E28 IN GOOD CONDITION. The car is located in Bulgaria, Europe! Clear documents, ready for export! Buyer is responsible for local pick up fees!
He left out “spare wheel held in the trunk somehow with something!”
This would put my E28-purchasing story (flight to Tennessee and buying a yet-unseen-in-person E28 on the spot only to drive it back to Arizona and immediately 24 hours straight with my brother) to shame. I can already hear it: “I shipped this Euro straight from Bulgaria. Swapped the mechanicals of my big-bumpered 535i’s turbo’d M30 and some Alpina wheels on it.” So what if the tertiary logistics would end up making it a little more expensive in time, money, and confusion; importing is cool.