1986 BMW 535i

When I look through the history of E28 5-Series I’ve written up, it’s not hard to notice a pattern. Most are modified, and most feature European-style modifications. Perhaps that annoys the purists and I’ll start off by saying a half-hearted ‘sorry’ to all of them, but here we go again.

I do like a really clean standard 5-Series, but it seems to always be the modified examples that catch my attention. Here we have a ’85 525i, which it is quite easy to see is not stock. Beyond being lowered, it’s wearing European-specification headlights and bumpers, big BBS-style wheels, and a few other odds and ends that make it worth a closer look. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the lovely Arctic Blue Metallic, either:

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1986 BMW 745i Euro-Spec

To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany the S-Class Mercedes-Benz BMWs engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasnt simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. Theyd have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgarts best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMWs microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldnt work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.

Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMWs platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasnt a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.

Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the driving machine motto of the company. This was a performance sedan, and consequently BMW brought its turbocharger technology over to the E23. Launched in 1980, the new 745i derived its name from the 1.4 multiplier for turbocharged displacement, and the M102B32 3.2 liter inline-6 cranked out an impressive 252 horsepower with 280 lb.ft of torque channeled through a 3-speed automatic ZF-built 3HP22 gearbox. It provided effortless highway cruising with a broad torque curve. With a full assortment of luxurious options, a driver-oriented design and pioneering turbocharger technology, these really were cutting edge sedans in the early 1980s. The M102 was replaced for the later ’82-86 745is with the M106, which produced the same peak horsepower but at a lower rev range. Displacement was up to match the M30 at 3.4 liters and it now used Motronic engine management:

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1986 BMW M535i

Last week’s M5 was a bit of a roll of the dice. While it was claimed to be low mileage and all original, it had undergone some modification and wasn’t in the best condition. Little was disclosed about the running condition of the motor. Worse, there was an undisclosed gaff in the history – it appeared that the odometer had been replaced at some point, and it certainly looked like the car might have more than the mileage claimed when you looked around it.

Here, we have the opposite. While that M5 was all go and less show, the E28 M535i is the appearance package incarnate; all the M-Tech bits are really just for looks here. Still, it’s a very appealing model. This M535i appears to be well documented, fully serviced, and in great shape. I’m also glad to see that it’s a shade other than black. The Arktisblau Metallic paint shines well, mileage is lower, the original and unique TRX wheels are sporting newer Michelins, the M-Tech body kit is all in place, and the interior condition is very good. What’s not to like?

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