Some time last year I pulled into the parking lot of my university’s gym and spotted a student getting out of an E28 535iS. I walked over to compliment him on his ride. It had been ages since I had seen one on the road, and I had forgotten how neat they look. While his was saddled by an automatic transmission and aÂ little rough around the edges, with the paint giving out all over the body, it still managed to look special. Because theÂ iS is not really much more than aÂ 535i with a fancy body kit and sport suspension, these carsÂ haven’t yet begun to command the very high prices of the equivalent era M5, keeping them relatively affordable. I still haven’t yet entered full-on fanboy mode, but this video onÂ Petrolicious, in which a young woman discusses her love for her E28 while driving it throughÂ sun-bakedÂ Californian streets,Â nearly sent me over the edge.
We all look back fondly on our first car. I enjoyed my short time with my 1988 BMW 325is. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t opt for another BMW. Many of the new ones lack the smooth manual gearbox of BMWs of yore and fail to fully capture that “Ultimate Driving Machine” aura. But now, the older models aren’t as interesting to me as they once were. Skyrocketing prices have put many BMWs of the 1980s out of reach of enthusiasts of modest means. In addition, there seems to be a bit of a hipster aura about them, as they have become popular with those wanting to stand out. Perhaps I was an Ã¼ber hipster for driving an E30 back in 1998? Do I care? Not in the least. I buy things more on spur of the moment emotions.
While I scan through countless ads for E30 M3s, E24 coupes and the occasional 2002 or E21, every now and then a BMW from this era grabs my attention. This late model 535is for sale in Utah is one of them. Representing the final year for the E28, this particular 5er has an engine swap, packing a 3.4 liter turbocharged inline-6 from the E23 745i. It’s not an original car, but has had some upgrades and a bit of freshening to make it a bit more appealing. It’s not what you would consider concours, but would certainly make an eye-catching daily driver.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 535i on Cars.com
Ah, what a fun car to find right around the holidays. This 535is, resplendent in Santa’s Sleigh red. It’s about as clean as his sleigh would be leading up to the holidays too, with a decently redone interior and excellent respray sometime back. The E28 535is is an outstanding car, bringing a significant portion of the legendary M5’s allure at significantly reduced prices and a much wider selection of colors. It’s been a while since we’ve seen one this clean, with just 119k miles, but the huge caveat is the single-axis shifter, meaning it will be much more comfortable cruising rather than sprinting in the hills. But Santa needs something stylish, fast, and comfortable, and this E28 hits all the bases.
Click for details: 1987 BMW 535is on eBay
Hagerty has this car listed under BMW E28 M5s, but its origin as a 525is and ensuing plethora of modifications make it a difficult car to classify. It recently received a Euro exterior conversion after a huge modification list of aftermarket E28 parts and OEM M5 parts, creating a FrankenE28 that is truly impressive. Bored and stroked S38s in any chassis are the stuff dreams are made of, with this custom build’s 350hp usurping even the almighty S38B38. A Wilwood big brake kit and Dinan/Koni/Bilstein suspension set up deviate from staying too true to the M5, but a full M5 interior and trunk, including battery relocation, are classy and expensive conversions. While not a fully dedicated M5 tribute/conversion, this ticks all the boxes in the outstanding E28 category.