Press "Enter" to skip to content

This site contains Ebay partner affiliate links, which may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Tuner Tuesday: 1988 BMW 535i Dinan 3.9

The E28 is a great chassis, no doubt, but often the normal 535i gets overlooked as a potential classic. We search out instead examples of the M5-look 535is or indeed the S38-motored legend itself, but today’s example will give those that dismiss the “normal” 535i a reason for pause. Upgraded with the full repertoire of Dinan bits and given a European specification makeover and repaint, this is one seriously good looking and well built 535i:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 535i Dinan 3.9 on Craigslist

Year: 1988
Model: 535i
Engine: 3.9 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 186,000 mi
Price: $16,500 Buy It Now

*** Classic 1988 BMW 5 Series, with Dinan 3.9L Stroker & Euro Conversion

1988 BMW 535i, 5-SPEED, 186K MILES, With Euro Bumpers and Headlights

Here’s your chance to own a Classic Dinan BMW 5 Series car that runs fabulously but doesn’t cost a mint to maintain.

This is a US 535i with a Euro Bumper and Headlight conversion done by Ron Perry at Vintage Motorsport In Duarte. The Euro conversion was done with all original BMW Euro parts. Ron’s team removed the US front and rear valences and replaced them with the correct Euro valance pieces. All pieces were painted to match the cars paint. His team used all the correct bracketry and hardware to mount the bumpers as needed to do it correctly. The proper Euro headlights and grills were installed to complete the Euro conversion look.

Dinan from Mt. View California did the 3.9 liter engine conversion about 8 years ago. They started with the original engine with only 90k miles on the odometer and applied their magic to bore and stroke the engine from 3.4L to 3.9L. The horse power numbers increased from approximately 208HP to 265HP @ the Flywheel (225HP @ rear wheels). The Torque increased to approximately 300Ft/lbs at the Flywheel (243 Ft/lbs @rear wheels). Dinan also created a custom DME chip to go with the engine to gain the most from this combination while preserving its ability to pass the California Smog test.

The car underwent a complete Quality repaint at Spectrum Collision in Irvine California. Spectrum Collision is a Certified BMW repair center and does fabulous work. The repaint process took a little over a year to get the exterior paint as near perfect as it could be.
This car is gorgeous inside and out and needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.
This is a one owner car with clean title. This car deserves a good home and an owner who cares about keeping it looking and running fabulous.
I got totally carried away with the restoration and created a wonderful car that is fun to drive. The car always attracts attention at car shows and events or where ever it goes.

Asking $16,500 or best offer, Will consider any reasonable cash offer.
Brad show contact info

Engine Upgrades:
1 – Dinan 3.9L Stroker Motor, 225HP, 243ft-lbs Torque
2 – Custom Dinan DME chip
3 – Dinan Cat Back Exhaust
4 – Powered coated valve cover (Silver)
5 – Powered coated Intake Manifold (Silver)
6 – Extruded Honed Intake Manifold
7 – Opened up intake ports to match intake manifold
8 – K&N Air filter
9 – New Radiator, Water pump, radiator hoses top and bottom
10 – New battery
11 – Fuel injectors recently cleaned and re-calibrated
12 – All fan belts replaced
13 – Brake fluid changed every 10K Miles
14 – Oil Changed every 5K miles

Transmission & Differential:
1 – M5 Clutch and Press Plate
2 – New Slave cylinder
3 – Trans. Fluid changed within last 15K
4 – replaced guibo recently
5 – replaced trans mounts
6 – rebuilt 3.73 Limited Slip diff
7 – rebuilt shift linkage recently

1 – Dinan Stage II suspension Front and Rear
2 – Bilstein Sport Shocks Front and Rear
3 – Dinan M5 Sway bars Front and Rear
4 – Urethane filled subframe bushings rear
5 – Milled 750 liquid filled front thrust rod bushings

1 – Dinan Cat Back Exhaust with Dinan Chrome tips
2 – 2X E36 M3 Catalytic converters

1 – E34 M5 Brake calipers and Posi-Quite ceramic pads front,
2 – E39 M5 Brake calipers and Posi-Quite ceramic pads Rear

Body & Interior
1 – Complete body repaint to original factory specs.
2 – All body trim replaced during restoration
3 – Euro M5 front bumper valence and chin spoiler
4 – M5 rear trunk spoiler
5 – New headliner
6 – New dashboard
7 – Rebuilt instrument cluster
8 – All Stereo Speakers replaced
9 – New antenna mast
10 – BMW Style 5 – 17″ wheels or 17″ BBS RK wheels
11 – New 205/55ZR17 Yokohama tires
12 – All door and trunk lid seals replaced.
13 – New hood shocks
14 – Upgraded to BMW E34 stereo AM/FM/cassette/CD + CD/changer
15 – Euro Bumper conversion
16 – 7″ & 5 1/4″ Euro Headlights with H1/H4 lighting

Asking $16,500 , will consider all reasonable cash offers, Brad show contact info

A quick check of the VIN decoder reveals this car was originally configured as shown; a 535i 5-speed in Bronzit Beige Metallic with 0206 electric seats, and was produced in June 1987. It probably led a fairly docile life as an unassuming normal 535i until around 1997, when it began its transformation into an ultimate sleeper machine. The Dinan 3.9 upgrades give M5 levels of power, while upgraded Dinan suspension and a mix of E34 and E39 M5 brakes address a weak point of fast E28s. Ron Perry’s crew did a transformation to match on the outside, with a correctly done European bumper and headlight swap leading towards a full respray in the correct colors. The seller includes options of wheels; no second thought would be given to my selection of the BBS RC090 “Style 5s” as the perfect fit for this look. The car is stylish but not over the top; well presented with quality modifications and a tremendous amount of work performed. Break down each individual change and you’ll find that they alone eat up large chunks of the car’s asking price. While it’s not a 535is or M5, this is one of the more desirable E28s I’ve run across and I think is a great value for the work that’s been done here. Save yourself a lot of time, headaches and sourcing rare parts; buy this car and enjoy it as it’s hard to see how you could go wrong or regret the decision.



  1. MGT
    MGT July 7, 2015

    Interior looks tired and no sport seats? I’d rather have a 535is of the same vintage

  2. Carter
    Carter July 7, 2015

    I believe sport seats are a pretty rare find on 535i models, but of course you could swap the interior over if you were really picky. The interior doesn’t really look all that bad to me, but I’m used to looking at cracked Ecru Audi seats so perhaps that’s why.

  3. MDriver
    MDriver July 7, 2015

    I thought this looked familiar….this car/seller was for sale exactly 1 year ago in the Roundel Classifieds….only then it had 185k on the odo and the ask was 2k higher…
    only driven 1k in one year??? what a crying shame!

  4. Carter
    Carter July 8, 2015

    @MDriver – thanks for the input – there were a few on Facebook claiming that the car has been for sale “forever” and that it’s strongly overpriced. Because it hasn’t sold, that claim would seem to be at least partially correct, but what’s your opinion on the price? If I break down the work done here, it seems like reasonable value to me.

  5. TodB
    TodB July 8, 2015

    What does Dinan’s magic include besides a crank? High compression pistons? What’s it running for a cam? Is there a Dyno sheet or are those Dinan quoted #s? For that price, I would want sport seats. Neat car but its been for sale before.

  6. Ed
    Ed July 8, 2015

    Overpriced. Anyone with access to the internet can source an e28 m5 with 150k on the clock for 11-13k, I am not sure how this almost substitute without the provenance is worth more?

  7. TodB
    TodB July 8, 2015

    Overpriced? I hope not but I think you are correct. Only the M5s should command that type of $. Most E28 owners who want extra HP go the turbo route and get much more power. And remember that when your S38 grenades, its on the pricey side to rebuild so choose that 150K+ M5 “thoughtfully”.

    It will be interesting to see what it goers for as I recall it this sat for sale before. The market will dictate the price…

  8. Carter
    Carter July 8, 2015

    @Ed @TodB; yes, I think you’d have a hard time finding an equal condition M5 for the same money (fresh paint, motor, suspension, wheels, Euro bits). We’ve seen some pretty tired or very high mile M5s trade for less, but most are trending upwards of high teens/low 20s for a well cared for and documented example. And TodB is right, if you find yourself on the non-running side of a S38, your $11,000 M5 could suddenly be a $20,000 M5 to get right. To me, this car is about priorities; if you want the badge, obviously you’ll head towards camp M5. But when you add up the bills for the work completed here, it doesn’t take too long to realize the work completed – if you like the look – is much more than the asking price of the car; probably the best part of double, in all honesty. You could drop 10K just doing a proper Euro conversion and getting the paint right, never mind the motor, wheels, etc…

    When I look back at the M5s that have sold for similar amounts, they’ve generally had a pretty long list of (expensive) needs. This car is turn-key. We’ve also seen a few Euro-converted 535s trade in the teens, and a few clean normal E28s trade close to $10k. Some actual comparable cars: Sold for 13K Sold for 18K

  9. Carter
    Carter July 8, 2015

    It’s worth noting, though, it all depends on who’s in the room, and as a few have pointed out, since it’s lingered for sale the asking price – at least, in previous years – has probably been too strong – or it’s just waiting for the right person.

  10. TodB
    TodB July 8, 2015

    It was previously listed at $15K…

  11. MDriver
    MDriver July 8, 2015

    @TodB where and when??.
    As far as overpriced, the market will decide….personally whenever someone modifies their vehicle, even with Dinan bits, you have to expect to take a hit, unless of course you find that person who feels you built exactly what they wanted…
    I would not pay anything close to 16k for this car not my cup of tea….by the same token I’d be scared stiff of a 150k E28 M5 UNLESS it came with a stack of service records…just my opinion

  12. TodB
    TodB July 8, 2015

    Search E28 on BaT (sorry, Carter!).

    Looks like it had the Euro bumpers done between then and now. Not sure I would have invested even more money based upon the prior non sale.

    This is a great driving car for sure, set up nicely. The Dinan mods work well, I think better then the more common Bilstein/H&Rs. I’ve had both. If it went through the Dinan shop, chances are the proper reinforcement was done to the sway bar mounts (both frame and strut) also which is critical if you plan to use it on track days.

    Agreed on the M5, a wonderful motor but I’don’t have the pocketbook for it. On the flip side, you can beat the snot out of this Dinan modded motor and it will not break. Bullet proof.

    Just gotta find that E28 fanatic looking for this car – they are out there. I’m one of those guys but I’ve already got one very close to this. And its not Bronzit:).

  13. Carter
    Carter July 8, 2015

    No worries, I was aware the car was listed on BaT back in 2012, I believe. Thanks for all the comments!

  14. MDriver
    MDriver July 8, 2015

    Thanks TodB
    so the seller went from 15k in 2012 to 18.5k in 2014..back down to 16.5k in 2015….
    must be trying to re-coup some costs??

  15. TodB
    TodB July 9, 2015

    @mdriver: must be trying to re-coup some costs??

    A fools errand – never happen. Always best to buy it “done” though some do enjoy the resto project more than the drive.

Comments are closed.