1986 BMW 535i

I know not everyone agrees, but I think that the U.S. mandated 5 m.p.h. bumpers that were fitted to many of the 1970s and ’80s import cars were just horrible. Some manufacturers had sorted it out by the mid 1980s; Mercedes-Benz and Audi, for example, had managed to integrate the new bumper designs well into their updated large and small sedans so that by 1985 there were only minor differences between the ROW models and U.S. models – and importantly, the bumper covers didn’t look like an afterthought. But BMW seemed to stand in defiance, refusing to update any of its models until nearly the end of the decade. The result of that was that by 1987 BMW’s lineup looked quite dated in comparison to the competition. While switching those BMW models to the ROW bumpers doesn’t necessarily update the look, it certainly refreshes all the models and brings them closer to their original design – something I’m personally a big fan of. While all of the 1980s BMWs benefit from this, one of the most popular to swap European trim onto seems to be the E28 5 series. A classic since new, the great package that was the E28 is lightened and tucked in Euro guise, making an already good looking design sportier and more compact in just the right ways:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 535i 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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1981 BMW M535i

A few years ago, the seller of the BMW 2002ti and E28 M5 we featured sold both cars in order to take better advantage of his then-new acquisition, a 1981 BMW M535i. Fast forward to today, and priorities for the seller have changed, and he’s looking to move on from this wonderfully rare example of BMW history.

The E12 M535i was a fitting bridge between BMW’s 1970 and 1980s performance model, the 3.0 CSL, and the upcoming E28 M535i and M5. More than just a gap model, though, this car featured an uprated 3.5 liter 210hp Motorsport built motor coupled to a close-ratio 5 speed with a limited slip rear differential. Outside, the Motorsport division added front and rear spoilers, while the interior received deeper bolstered Recaro seats. This particular car has been taken to the next step with many Alpina details, such as the B9 head and B7 intake. Additionally, the car features some of our favorite Alpina turbine wheels bolted to the correct Alpina-specific suspension. For the purists, the car also comes with the correct original BBS Mahle wheels and M535i stock suspension. We actually featured this specific car back in 2010, and as Aaron said at the time, this is truly a special car:


Year: 1981
Model: M535i
Engine: 3.5 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 138,700 mi
Price: $19,900

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 BMW M535i on Kijiji

A pristine example of a very rare BMW – never sold in North America. The first car (aside from the M1) produced by BMW Motorsports. Read all about it here: http://www.bmwmregistry.com/model_faq.php?id=3 Highlights of the car include: – 1 of 960 LHD units (1410 in total) produced. This is one of the last produced. – Imported into US from Switzerland in 1998 – have all EPA/DOT releases and nearly complete records from original sale in Italy. – Car had a repaint in original Polaris approximately 10 years ago and still presents very well. – About as rust free as you can make an E12 BMW – which is to say, some minor surface corrosion underneath but nothing on the body. I had all areas showing evidence of corrosion addressed two years ago, including the right front jack point, two small patches on the trunk opening, the spare tire well and a spot on the LF fender where the side marker light was removed when repainted. – Alpina B9 ‘big valved’ head with Schrick 290 degree camshaft – Alpina B7 turbo intake manifold – Full Alpina suspension (special valved Bilstein shocks, Alpina springs and Alpina rear anti-roll bar). Have original M535i-specific suspension parts as well. – 16″ Alpina wheels. Have original 14″ BBS Mahle wheels as well. – Interior very nice. Crack-free dash, original Recaro seats in black corduroy fabric (driver’s seat bolster is showing wear but have enough OEM replacement fabric to redo front seats), excellent original carpet. – 138,700 miles. The Alpina head and intake manifold were installed at 126,000 miles. – Recent (this spring) work includes new OEM fuel tank, new water pump, new belts and valve adjustment – Compression and leakdown tests from the PPI conducted in 2010 when I bought the car were: #1 – 190 – 3% leakdown; #2 – 180 – 5% leakdown; #3 – 190 – 5% leakdown; #4- 180 – 12% leakdown; #5 – 185 – 4% leakdown; #6 – 190 – 2% leakdown. No reason to think those numbers have degraded. Lots of photos can be found at http://s71.photobucket.com/user/grbbenny/library/M535i?sort=6&page=1 Reason for selling? My list of ‘cars to own before I die’ is long and I’m not getting any younger. Price: $19,900. I would look at certain trades from that list including a first generation M Coupe


The seller is honest and upfront about the car’s current condition, which is critical when jumping into one of these older BMWs or even an older car in general. In the current state this isn’t a Concours car, but to me that makes it much better – you won’t be afraid to drive it, and it still looks spectacular! Polaris Silver over Black is a favorite of many and looks classic on this car. The seller provides some excellent photos of known trouble spots on the E12, and they do look free of major corrosion. I had a friend and a cousin who both owned a 1981 528i, and they had much difficulty with the fuel tank leaking (which I’ve heard is common on these), so it’s nice to note that headache has been sorted. Mechanically the car is on point and should provide many smile-filled miles before you need to do any serious engine work. As entertaining as that 528i was to drive on the street, I can only imagine that an additional 40 horsepower, the close ratio 5 speed and limited slip, Alpina suspension and better brakes would make for a very fun driver.

Comparable cars would be a clean E28 M5 or a driver E30 M3, but this car is much more exclusive than either of those. The clean Euro look is something that many E28 owners spend thousands to even tens of thousands to recreate, yet here is a pristine example of exactly what they strive for, already done and correct. With the proper DOT and EPA paperwork, bringing it back to the U.S. should not present a problem, as it has been previously registered here. This car could and should be enjoyed on weekends and, as the seller has from the photo stream, at vintage rally events and shows. At any BMW or German car show, it would be sure to bring a crowd. Yes, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining that those M badges actually do belong on there, but I’ve always felt that owning a car few others do brings me much more joy than following the traditional mold. If you’re a fan of BMWs, you’re sure to love the purity of this car, and you’d be running something a little different and a lot more special than the rest of the crowd!

The seller offers his photo album on the car here.

If interested, please contact the seller here: grbbenny@gmail.com


1985 BMW M535i Turbo for sale

When BMW started futzing around with broadening the M-division’s reach, I was ready to call blasphemy. And while the X5/6M still rub me the wrong way, things like the M550d are a positive step to the future while referencing oft-forgotten classics like the pre-M5 M535i without the outright bastardization of the aforementioned X-elephants.

Today’s M535i is a rare sight on these shores with its small bumpers and tupperware valences. Adding to the rarity is a Dinan turbo with other go-fast goodies, making this one hell of an 80s sedan. The exterior and interior aren’t 10s, but with a Buy-It-Now of $9,000, they don’t need to be.

1985 BMW M535i Turbo for sale on eBay

From the seller:

Purchased from workshop technician at Dinan Engineering (Mountain View, CA) in 1996 – body showed 152,000 miles at that time
The car has the full Dinan turbo/suspension/brakes performance package from the early 1990’s
Car had been imported from Germany and has Federal Motor Vehicle Standards Import sticker and B.A.R. Engine Identification sticker (for emissions compliance) identifying the presence of the turbo. NOTE: the actual VIN is WBADC710XD0641184 – EBay would not let me list this in the VIN box.
Since leaving CA the car has spent most of its time in Houston or in heated indoor storage in Cleveland – I have driven the car 40,000 miles in the last 16 years and the car has had quality maintenance and parts replacement where needed.
I am an Engineer and BMW enthusiast (owned four, still own two) and I’m thinning my collection of cars and bikes – too many toys, not enough garage space! Call me on (216) 401 5071 with questions – I can recommend a car transporter and will assist with loading, but you will need to set it up.
Overall – an interesting and very rare car that you can enjoy every day – and that will likely repay restoration work if you wish!

Euro M535 features
Letter of Authenticity from BMW M GmbH in Munich (see photo)
Alpineweiss (Alpine White)
Black leather interior and upholstery on M sport seats (Recaro?)
Original Euro M body kit (see photos)
Close-ratio 5 speed transmission with dogleg first gear (Getrag 262CR? – see photo)
Three-spoke M sport steering wheel
No internal protection barriers in doors
Cruise control (I have never used it)
Headlight aiming mechanism (may be disconnected)
Central locking
Power windows on all 4 doors
Power sunroof

Dinan features
Intercooled Dinan turbo (adjustable wastegate currently set to 9psi – which is plenty!)
Dinan engine management computer
Dinan exhaust mods on stock M535i exhaust (stock BMW muffler modified and re-welded)
Dinan dual chrome exhaust tips (see photo)
850i V12 front brakes and calipers (stock brakes and calipers come with the car)
Full Dinan suspension upgrade (springs, Bilstein shocks, etc.)
Dinan camber kit (camber rings not currently installed but with the car – see photo)
Dinan trunk badge (see photo)
Dinan floor mats (see photo)

Additional info
Genuine BMW M “throwing star” forged wheels 17×8 with 20mm offset. Some very minor rash but all are straight (see photo)
Dunlop SP Sport D40 M2 tires 255/40 ZR17 (decent tread and grip, but probably now too old and hard to be ideal)
Original 1985 BMW 165TR390CH metric spare wheel with 220/55 VR390 Michelin TRX tire (neither has ever been used – will not fit over the 850i brakes – see photo)
ACT basket weave spare 16×7 ½ (25mm offset) with 205/55 R16 Dunlop D60A2 tire (this spare will fit over the 850i brakes)
Big folder of receipts for quality maintenance and parts replacement over the years:
Much overhaul and cylinder head work by the late great Mike Perkins at Bavarian Machine in Houston (over $16.8k in receipts)
Recent turbo inlet work by Brett Anderson at Koala Motor Sports in Cleveland
E28 workshop manual (Bentley)
BMWCCA Enthusiasts Companion
The good the bad and the ugly
Everything (electrics, instrumentation, mechanicals) works well
Engine, gearbox, drive train, steering, brakes all in excellent shape – no funny noises, leaks or indications that work is needed
A/C converted to R134 – works well (as well as a typical E28 system – not ice cold!)
Euro M535 did not have a cat – high flow cat was fitted for CA but I have replaced it with a straight pipe and no longer have the cat – car is exempt from OH smog (over 25 years old)
Paint appears original with minor aging, no signs of any accident repair, no rust evident except minor surface rust spot at base of rear window (see photo)
Interior is good, no damage to leather other than some aging creases – no splits or holes in the leather (see photos)
Interior door panels (black leather), carpets (dark grey), roof liner (grey) all in great shape (see photos)
Aftermarket Panasonic AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary amplifier/graphic equalizer is in car – works well but easily removed (I do not have the original stereo).
One or two power window switches need contact cleaning
Original tool tray in trunk is complete but tools need clean-up
Dash top cover is cracked but covered by removable custom-fit dash mat (see photo of cracks)
Leather cover on steering wheel has worn through in one spot
Some window trim and other interior trim items need minor attention

With a couple of promising previous owners and what appears to be a good level of all-around attention, this is a great opportunity at some seriously rare German muscle. The seller must be of the “pay it forward” mindset or just worried that 190k miles will worry some buyers. Regardless of his reasoning, if a PPI checks out, this is an awesome deal.


Redone and Modified 1987 BMW M535i for sale

My E28 M5 hunt has heated up a little bit with the right example popping up near where I work, so I’m trying to make monetary and spatial arrangements to perhaps fulfill my dream of 80s M-car ownership. If this opportunity passes, the hunt will continue over the next year and I will have to open my mind to other options. The E28 message boards are constantly alight with M535i vs. M5 arguments, and today’s eBay find takes each side to the next level.

Recently sandblasted and painted underneath with the E34 M5’s S38B38 underneath, this white-on-black wheels M535 has the juice to back up the Euro-only body kit. It’s located in Sweden, but a car this well-done and rare is an intriguing find anywhere in the world.

1987 BMW M535i for sale on eBay

A concise description of how this beast came about:

M535i with E34 M5 drivetrain (S38B38) producing 384bhp at the rear wheels. New MOT and road tax. Clear title.

Newly renovated front and rear undercarrige. Most things have been sandblasted and painted. rear sub frame mounts have been reinforced. New wheelberings, stainless steel brakehoses, abs units, blue racing brakefluid, EBC Red stuff brakepads, Powerflex bushings front and rear. New K&N coneshaped airfilter. Newly renovated steeringsystem=no play. Removable towhook.

Considerable amount of work has been done by changing and modifying things in respect and in mind of achieving a reliable, communicative and enjoyable car to drive.

Alpina 17″ rims (even the spare) with Michelin Pilot sport tyres. Stainless steel 2.5″ double exhaustsystem with two mufflers gives a nice sound but not too loud.

Blue M-interior which is in excellent condition, like new. Sunroof electricly operated. Complete toolkit. External paintjob is in very good condition. Recently polished. Only three places where very small spots of rust exist which has not yet been taken care of. No other rust to be found.

Car is located in southern Sweden and can be viewed daily during office hours. International buyers welcome.

A gorgeous and uniquely Swedish take on German engineering, this car is well-done inside and out, with its $19k starting bid and $21k B-I-N accordingly dear. For the true M5 aficionado who likes it a little strange, this is a one-of-a-kind find that would cost even more to replicate.