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As ’80s-All-Things-M-Mania’ has continued, getting into a clean E28 M5 is increasingly difficult – and expensive. Decently clean original M5s now start around $30,000 and can head up from there, with really exceptional examples selling for $50,000 or more. Didn’t this used to be the “cheap” M? Those days have passed and don’t show signs of returning soon.
What’s an enthusiast to do? Well, you could build your own. It’s not cheap or easy, but hey – if you’re in it to win it, why not see if you can source all the parts yourself? Or (and this is a much better option…) you buy one that has already been converted to M-specs. To maximize your investment, look for one with a rare set of parts attached, and preferably in European guise. Luckily, today we don’t have to look too far:
While pristine, all-original examples of classic and collector cars certainly have a cadre of devotees, there’s a slightly smaller and equally evangelical group of “period correct” piece lovers. From aftermarket wheels, body bits, seats and gauges right through to stickers, even if the car isn’t the most desirable model it can be brought up to snuff with some appropriate modifications. Today’s duo of E12s are good examples. Both start as 528i models; by themselves, certainly not the prettiest or most desirable BMW even within the period of the late 1970s. But both have gone through some modifications which make them desirable, though they take very different paths. Which one would you like?
I have a bit of an interesting comparison today, and I think in many ways it’s harder than it would first appear to be. If you said to most enthusiasts “Would you rather have a manual or automatic?”, the collective ire of autophiles towards self-controlled cars is akin to suggestion a revision to the 2nd Amendment at a NRA rally. And outwardly, today’s two E39 5-series wagons seem quite similar. But they represent two different directions for BMW and I think it will be interesting to see which foot enthusiasts land on. So, what would it be, then – a 5-speed 528i Sport Touring or a 5-speed (automatic) 540i M-Sport Touring?
In yesterday’s Alpina Roadster post, I mentioned cars that you just don’t see much of any more. Is there a better example than the BMW E12? I’m sure there is, but in many ways the E12 embodies exactly what I was speaking of. Early examples suffered from the notorious thermal reactor problems – something that would likely put them on a CIA watchlist for extremist activity today. But it wasn’t just engine problems that struck the E12. There was one that a friend of mine owned and then sold to my cousin. It was a fun car for sure with tremendous personality, but it also had tremendous rust – the downfall of many 1970s BMWs. From the floorboards to the (leaking) fuel tank, it seemed to rust from everywhere. Not many of these sedans survive today, but they really established the benchmark for BMW’s mid-range sedans that carried over through today – they were, at the time, the best driving sedans money could buy:
This classy E12 that we featured last summer is still looking for a home. I would assume that the 300k miles have led interested parties elsewhere, which is a shame. It’s still just as clean inside and out with the great Zender bits. 10 months and $1k later, it’s a better deal on a clean survivor that needs a good home!