One-owner 1981 BMW 528i


I love my E28 and it’s still the generation for me, but the earlier BMW model lineup intrigues me, piqued by the Bavaria down the street I bike by every day and ranging from the 2002 to the E9 and E12. Today’s example of the first BMW midsize sedan to truly be a 5er is impeccable, even after 130k miles thanks to one careful owner. The interior’s leather and wood combo looks fantastic over three decades on. There are a few bumps and dings, reflecting that it is a real car that has seen real use, but overall it shows the kind of love and attention that I wish all classic car owners would give to their autos, from the well-maintained engine bay to the impressively-clean tool tray. With no reserve and a low starting point, this could be a cheap entry into a great mix of classic luxury and sportiness.

Click for more details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

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1981 BMW M535i

It’s been a while since we took a look at the M5’s grandfather; the E12 M535i. Produced for a short time, the M535i was really the M-division’s first attempt at a production road car. It was more than just a prettying up as many of the “M-sport” packages are these days, too – featuring a limited slip differential, a close-ratio 5-speed manual, a host of not-so-discrete aerodynamic upgrades, some great BBS Mahle wheels to dress it up and heavily bolstered Recaros to keep you in place, the M535 looked like a natural racer. Back in the days when 200 horsepower was considered much more than adequate, these were one of the fastest sedans in the world, and one of the best handling, too. Rare to see for sale in North America, this particular model is available in Canada on Ebay today:


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Double Take: Original and Extra Spicy 1977 BMW 630CSis

Earlier in the week I wrote up a pristine, lower mile E12 528i that was a very pretty color combination and rare to see. The early generation cars of the 1980s – the E12, early E24 and E21 – are still in collector no man’s land; they’re in general not sought after enough to justify expensive restorations, and they’re not valuable enough for people to keep in pristine condition. They’re also not the best performers that BMW has produced; but in spite of that they’re all pretty cars and when well presented it’s a reminder of how clean and desirable some of these early BMW designs were. Few are as pretty as the original Paul Bracq designed E24 with it’s low, lean and long stance. Bespoilered later in life the design become increasingly cluttered and more aggressive, and while that has a certain appeal the early cars really do express the original design better. Today there are two examples, surprisingly, of the early run 630CSi – in your choice of original or modified “extra-spicy”. Which would you prefer? Let’s start with the modified version:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 BMW 630CSi on eBay

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1979 BMW 528i

While the BMW faithful and converts have flocked to the E28 and E30 as the next collectable and drivable classics, nearly ignored in BMW history are the E21 and E12 predecessors; cars that both revolutionized the small luxury sport sedan market and set the stage for their more sought after replacements. If you’re not in as much of a hurry and don’t mind the more 70s, less 80s approach of the earlier cars, finding a clean example is a much cheaper proposition than the market stars that everyone is looking for. Truth be told, finding those clean examples – especially the E12 variety – can be difficult, but today there is a mint condition, lower mile 1979 528i example on Ebay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 528i on eBay

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1981 BMW 528i

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The E12 fills an interesting gap between the large-and-classy Bavaria and the venerable E28 5-series. Today’s example has been well cared for by BMW enthusiasts and, though it’s covered quite a few miles, has been attended to so that it can be a reliable daily driver and cover a whole lot more. It looks fantastic in Resedagrün, a perfect late-70s/early-80s green. If you want to be a little more off the beaten path than the more well-known E28, this would be a great cruiser.

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Year: 1981
Model: 528i
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 206,000 mi
Price: No reserve auction at $4,800

Click for more details: 1981 BMW 528i on eBay

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Must be driven for complete appreciation!

This is a beautiful vintage BMW 5-series. It is an “E12” chassis, which is the first generation of the BMW 5-series, and the last year that this platform was offered. It is offered in Resedagrün Metallic (light green metallic) beige corduroy interior, and white headliner. She had been my daily driver for the past 2 ½ years and runs, handles, and accelerates unbelievably. Steering, acceleration, and braking is incredibly linear and crisp. Extremely clean interior, good exterior chrome, and excellent exterior trim, including original “M5″ rear spoiler. Garage kept and hand-washed only. She turns heads and receives compliments daily! Exhaust burble will always make you smile!

She was a Canadian market car, hence the metric speedometer and milage counter (kilometers per hour). One family-owned for 1st 25 years, with dealer maintenance records for much of this time. Second owner (1997-2011) was a fellow BMW enthusiast and mechanic. He rebuilt the cylinder head at 187,000 miles (290,00 KM), resurfaced the head, replaced valves and all engine seals, replaced shocks (Bilstein HD), tie rods, center link, and heater blower motor.

She rides on 16″ BBS-sourced BMW rims and three month old Goodyear Eagles. ALSO INCLUDED are original 14” “Alpina style” rims with new BMW caps, shod with Continential Extremewinter snow tires. See below for history of upgrades and maintenance under my ownership.

*pre-purchase inspection completed by Vorderman’s Autowerks and available for review *

1981 BMW 528i Maintenance and Upgrade Log
Nov. 2010 Oil change, inspection, alignment Tomkinson BMW
Nov. 2010 Replace Transmission Cooler Lines Tomkinson BMW
Nov. 2010 Replace/restore rear window carpet Seat Cover Center (Calhoun)
Dec. 2010 Exhaust Pipe inspection and repair Midas Auto Service
Dec. 2010 Replace BMW Hub Caps — winter rims Bavarian Autosport
Jan. 2011 Replace Vacuum Lines, clean throttle plate, reset airflow Vorderman’s
Jan. 2011 Upgraded K&N Air Filter system self
Feb. 2011 Replace muffler/silencer and chrome ends (OEM) Tomkinson BMW, Bavarian Autosport
Mar. 2011 Replace main radiator and hoses — rebuilt tank Ace Radiator Inc
April 2011 Oil Change — 6q Castrol GTX + Mann Auto Filter self
June 2011 Upgraded new custom “Coco Mats”- front and rear Bavarian Autosport
Sept 2011 Upgraded front and rear brake rotors with new cross-drilled and Pagid Red (front) OEM (rear) brake pads
Sept 2011 Upgraded Hella 550 Halogen Driving lights & lens covers Bavarian Autosport
Nov 2011 Replaced Rear shocks — Bilstein HD, Realignment Vorderman’s
Dec 2011 Oil Change — 6q Castrol GTX + Mann Auto Filter self
July 2012 Replace Hazard Light Switch Bavarian Autosport
July 2012 Replace front brake calipers Bavarian Autosport
Oct 2012 Upgraded Hella quartz (euro) headlamps Bavarian Autosport
Oct 2012 Replaced glovebox catch Bavarian Autosport
Dec 2012 Lamda setting adjustment Vorderman’s
Jan 2013 Replaced rear brake calipers Vorderman’s
April 2013 Throttle body, air meter, intakes cleaned and timing reset Werner’s Garage (Vorderman referral)
April 2013 New Goodyear Eagle LS P20555R16 X4 Tire Barn
May 2013 Oil Change — 6q Castrol GTX + Mann Auto Filter self
June 2013 Upgraded to custom sheepskin seat covers- front Rocky Mountain Sheepskin
July 2013 Replaced front brake calipers, rotors, and pads back to OEM (Vordermans)

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A gorgeous example of the E12 and I’m glad it comes with the original wheels. It hasn’t attracted much attention in the way of bids. Perhaps people see it as overpriced, but it’s a unique and pretty car that has been loved. Just under $5k seems fair enough to me, but we’ll see if anyone bites.


1979 BMW 518

A lot of cars we feature here on GCFSB are top spec models, those carrying larger, more powerful engines and all the bells and whistles. However, there’s a part of me that always prefers something a little bit more basic, such as this BMW 518 for sale in Switzerland. The E12 was the fifth “New Class” platform introduced by BMW, hence the “5” denotation. Since it appeared in 1972, the 5 series has gone on to become a legend in the mid-sized executive class. This 518 with its carburetted four cylinder engine represents the nub for the 5 series. Resplendent in red, it’s uncommon to find an E12 in such unmolested condition.


Year: 1979
Model: 518
Engine: 1.8 liter inline four
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 77,000 km (47,845 miles)
Price: 6,900 CHF (~ $7,170 USD)

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 518 from Bahman Cars


Beautiful BMW 518 E12! Original, special condition. Only 77,000 original kilometers. First hand! Full service book, sunroof, veteran appraised.


Looking through the pictures, the seller certainly has set an example on how to present a special, low mileage car such as this. A little bit more of a description would be helpful, along with an explanation of whether the car comes with the original steel wheels or the BBS wheels also pictured (or both). We’ve seen some later E28s reach $10,000 and beyond, with M5s and 535is models fetching the highest values. When I first saw this car, I was suspecting the price would reach into unrealistic territory, say, around $15,000 to $20,000. Given the condition, I’d suspect this car isn’t priced too far off the mark.


1981 BMW Alpina B7 – REVISIT

With all of the BMWs flying around here this week, and an Alpina B6 earlier this week, I did some digging and came across this amazing 1981 Alpina B7 that Dan featured back in June. Sadly it hasn’t found the right home. With a slightly lowered price, here’s hoping this beauty can move on to a good home.

Year: 1981
Model: Alpina B7
Engine: 3.0 inline six turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: ???
Price: $26,500

1981 BMW Alpina B7 turbo sedan on Craigslist Portland – REVISIT

Below is the original feature from June 2012

Now here is a rare bird, a true E12 Alpina B7 Turbo. The E12 5-series pre-dated the more common E28 5-series and has always been under his younger brother’s shadow. Maybe it was the fact that when the E12 530i was first offered in the US it featured thermal reactors and the most dismal fuel economy outside a big-block powered 1-ton pickup. They started off slow here on our shores, but if you have never seen an E12 M535i… Google that if you want to see an amazing car that started M sedan history. Even cooler than an M535i is what Alpina was doing to the cars with the rare B7. They made 300hp and had the suspension and brake mods to go with them. If you can remember in 1981 a Porsche 911SC made 180hp and the Chevrolet Corvette made just 190hp, so imagine a 4-door sedan with a turbocharged 300hp inline 6!

1981 BMW Alpina B7 on Portland Craigslist for $28,500

1981 Alpina B7 turbo sedan. Authentic Alpina car from Germany, rare and original numbers matching car. One of 209 E12 Chassis Based 5 series Sedans B7 and B7S’s built between 1978-1982 with 300 hp turbocharged engine. Car is Sapphire blue metallic. Interior is black with Scheel seats upholstered in Alpina cloth. No sunroof. Close ratio dog leg 5 speed transmission, limited slip differential (2.93 gears) with oil cooler. Auxiliary gas tank in trunk, Alpina Auxiliary turbo gauges, along with Alpina standard instrument cluster gauges and adjustable boost knob between front seats. Alpina steering wheel and shift knob. Car is fitted with Alpina staggered 16″ wheels and full Alpina suspension. Car in very good condition cosmetically and mechanically. Local Sale preferred as car may not meet smog laws in many states. Car was registered previously in California and still has CARB sticker in door jamb but I cannot assist a buyer in California to make this car legal there again.

It is really difficult to put a price tag on a car like this, Alpina built just 209 B7 and B7S cars and very few of them reached our shores. How many are still left? The owner is knowledgeable and is aware of what he has. The market for 4-door collectibles has always been much softer than 2-doors but if you want to own a very rare and unusual piece of BMW history, what is the price? I hope a fellow enthusiast decides this is a keeper and if we’re lucky they will take it to the Legends of the Autobahn event in Carmel, it would be perfect there!

– Nathan from Columbia Valley Luxury Cars

Matching pair of BMWs to make you an instant enthusiast, 635csi & 530i

This seller out in Washington State has listed on Seattle’s Craigslist a pair of classic BMWs that look like they belong together. While nearly a decade spans these two cars you almost get the sense that splitting them up would be like separating out two kitties from the same litter. With both cars finished in a great navy color.

The elder brother is a 1976 530i with 105,000 miles. The car features authentic Hardy and Beck 3 piece 16″ rims and some suspension parts, springs and swaybars from Alpina. It has a complimentary blue leather interior. Judging by the sheepskins on the front seats there is probably some hidden wear, but the rears look to be in great shape.
The seller mentions that the car has had an exhaust header added and an older high end audio system. The intake manifold has also been polished for a somewhat odd look since it stands out on an otherwise fairly subdued car. It doesn’t look bad, just different. The car’s automatic will keep interest a little lower I’m afraid. It is interesting to see the rear mount fog light on the U.S. bumper. The ask price is $6,950.

The other car from the seller is this matching 1985 635csi with 122,000 miles. Unfortunate also saddled with the autobox. The seller says the car runs perfect and it comes with new wheels and tires. The ask here is $5,950. It is unclear if the Beamer vanity plate will also be made available to a new owner.

The ads don’t tell a whole lot about various condition issues so you’ll want to do a bit more digging, but the cars look clean. I suspect that a deal could be had if you bought these both. Sitting them next to each other in your garage will look pretty classy.

1985 BMW 635csi

1976 BMW 530i


1976 BMW 530i, 43k original miles

Critics will most certainly be abuzz with the introduction of a new 5 series this year, so let’s take a look back to where it all started, the E12 chassis. This particular example is a very complete, very mint condition example of the range topping 530i model.

The seller states:

Up for auction is our 1976 BMW 533I with 43k original documented miles! We have all the service records to back it up. This vintage bimmer has always been stored properly in a climate controlled garage. A few years back it had a mild make over, new paint, mild engine overhaul, as well as a transmission overhaul. The previous owner was very meticulous, and wanted keep this rare find up to standards. Everything was done professionally. The interior is all original, and is literally like new.

The seats, carpet, and dash are in great shape. The headliner has some discoloration, but is still in good shape. My favorite part of the car is the tool kit. It has the original German tools from day one, and they are in great shape as well. As you can see in the pictures, all the chrome is in great shape. This is a very well preserved piece of BMW history, and always the topic of conversation everywhere you go! The original steel wheels are included in this auction as well. The rims and tires that are on the car are in “like new” condition.

Clean E12s don’t come on the market often so this no reserve sale will give an indicator of where prices are for these sedans. The only thing holding this car back in the enthusiasts eye is the automatic transmission. This could possibly make this more attractive to a certain group of buyers, though.


Two Uber Low Mileage 5’ers in Portland

I’ve had lots of inquiries about my newly acquired 1985 e28 535i, but these two 5’ers have similar condition but super low miles to boot. Ride in style in either of these two examples for less than $10k!

1980 BMW 528i For Sale in Portland (46k miles, $9k)

1980 BMW 528i For Sale1980 BMW 528i Interior Picture1980 BMW 528i Clean Rust Free Trunk

quote from Craigslist Portland:

1980 BMW 528i, this car is amazingly clean with only 46,xxx original miles. All original except for the stereo which has been replaced with a sony explode(although I have the original stereo and it will be included). 5 speed manual, 2.8 liter soch I6 engine w/ 169hp and 170lb-ft torque @ 4500rpm,power sunroof, power windows, vacuum locks, leather, A/C that works great, Bosch L-Je-tronic fuel injection. This bimmer has spent its entire life in a garage and every service record on this car has been kept. The leather interior is in beautiful condition being as since the car was purchased the driver and passenger seats have been covered with sheep skins. The headliner is in great shape as well. I cant say enough about how clean this car is. email or call me with any questions or if you would like to see more photos.

1986 BMW 528e For Sale in Portland (59k miles, $7800):

1983 BMW 528e For Sale1983 BMW 528e Side View1983 BMW 528e Interior

quote from Craigslist Portland:

This car is immaculate and clean. It generates compliments. 59,000 original miles. The color is called “bronzit” – original BMW factory paint color which is a metallic silvery goldish color. This car has always been garaged and well cared for. The paint is immaculate. The interior is immaculate. The engine and transmission are excellent. It has been regularly serviced and maintained. Some features of this car includes: automatic transmission, power windows and doors, sun roof, AC, original leather with no tears, immaculate factory floor mats, newer tires, battery, and alarm system. Everything is factory original with the exception of the addition of a car alarm, and a new Am/Fm Cassette player. Recent service maintenance have also been performed. For those of you who are collectors of classic cars – it comes with the original owner’s manual and also a complete set of the original BMW tools located in the truck of the car.

Both of these cars are already modern classics and in lovely condition. Why buy a $10k Kia when you could pick up one of these beauts for less and arrive with much more presence at the same time!