The E23, produced between 1977 and 1987, was the first iteration of the 7-series. It set the standard that BMW has followed, more or less, with each subsequent version of its luxury flagship. Large, comfortable, conservatively styled and packed with the latest technology for the time (ABS brakes, an onboard computer, electric seats and climate control, for example), these autobahn cruisers were for those who had arrived but couldn’t quite afford a Mercedes, or preferred the driving dynamics of a BMW. Sadly, very few have survived the ravishes of time and they’re quite a rare sight on today’s roads. And that’s a shame, because these are truly very handsome and classy cars, sharing a lot of styling cues with the gorgeous E24 6-series, including a sharply raked, shark-nosed front end. So it’s refreshing to come across a low-mileage, nicely kept example like this one.
With its shark nosed, classically cool styling the E28 is a firm favorite among fans of 80s BMWs, but it’s the M5 and 535iS variants that get most of the attention. It’s not hard to see why. The M5 based on this platform was one of the first super sedans, laying down the classic formula for all modern Q-ships: supreme performance packaged in a stealthy, unassuming exterior. Meanwhile the 535iS appealed to those who wanted a bit of flash but couldn’t quite afford the full cream M-car, and was really just a 535i with firmer suspension, bodykit and sport seats. That isn’t a bad thing. The underlying car, introduced as a range-topper in 1984, was a winner, marrying the bulletproof M30 3.4 liter straight six engine (good for about 182 hp, in US emissions restricted form) with a tractable and responsive chassis. A regular 535i with a manual gearbox therefore offers a fun and relatively affordable alternative to the more expensive E28s out there.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i on eBay
It’s been a good week for European specification BMWs here at GCFSB, with the ultra-clean and original E28 and unique E34 the other day. Today is a more desirable model to many, because beyond offering the slimmer bumpers the rest of the world enjoyed, through the mid 1980s if you wanted any real performance from your BMW the Euro versions offered a substantial bump. Through 1984, the top of the heap on U.S. shores was the 633CSi – power had steadily improved since launch, but only slightly – from 176 horsepower in the 630CSi to 181 in the 633. Running concurrently in Europe, however, was a hotter 635CSi. With 218 horsepower on tap from the enlarged 3.4 liter displacement, coupled with a lower weight, these sharks offered much better performance than the U.S. bound models and it was quite popular in the early 1980s to import them. However, in 1985 BMW brought it’s own semi-neutered version of the 635CSi to the North American market, meaning the flood of European models slowed to a trickle and it’s fairly rare to find any post 1985. Today’s example is from that changeover year, and looks splendid in black over tan with BBS wheels: