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1988 BMW 535iS

1988 BMW 535iS

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Details

Price: $19,800

Mileage: 163,900 Miles

Engine: M30B34 Inline 6-Cylinder Engine

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission (swapped from factory automatic)

Exterior color: Alpine White Exterior (146)

Interior: Cardinal Red Interior

Additional features:

Sport Seats

Power Seats

M Tech I Steering Wheel (Recently Reupholstered)

ZHP Shift Knob

Kenwood Stereo w/ Bluetooth

BMW Premium Sound System

13-Button On-Board Computer

LED Interior Lights

Motorsport Front Door Handles

Limited-Slip Differential

Bilstein Sport Shocks

H&R Springs

“IS” Front Valance

M Tech Rear Spoiler

16” BMW Style 5 Wheels

Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 Tires

Background

1988 BMW 535iS exterior photo

The E28 (2nd Generation) BMW 5 Series was the one car, more than any other, that established and defined the mid-size sport sedan segment. By its second evolution of the 5 Series, BMW had nailed the recipe of a luxury sedan that was large enough to haul four adults comfortably, while sporty enough to easily out-drive its contemporaries and satisfy the requirements of the performance driver. The 535iS, only available for the final two years of production, was the range-topping non-M 5 Series. It was powered by the venerable M30B34 inline 6-cylinder engine, which produced 182 horsepower. The M30 is one of BMW’s most reliable engines, with many examples lasting well into the 400k-mile range. Power was routed to the rear wheels through a Getrag G265 gearbox. The “iS” also got an M-Technic rear spoiler, sport seats, sport suspension settings, and a more aggressive front valance. Relatively low production numbers and the fact that the E28 was so good meant that many literally had the wheels driven off of them, making surviving examples rare.

Summary

 exterior photo

This 1988 535iS is an amazing example that we purchased from a Glen Shelly regular. Shod in Alpine White over a Cardinal Red interior and fitted with the 535iS kit: front spoiler, M Tech rear spoiler, sport seats, an M Tech 1 steering wheel, limited-slip differential, and sixteen-inch Style 5 wheels, it looks the part and has the performance to match. It is also the final and the best year—1988—of E28 production. Modifications include Bilstein sport Shocks and H&R sport springs, ZHP shift knob, a Kenwood stereo, LED interior lights, and BMW Motorsport front door handles. It was originally delivered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and spent time between there, Virginia, and North Carolina for the first 17 years of its life. In 2005 it went to Michigan, where it remained for 6 years until it moved to Indiana, and shortly thereafter went to Illinois, where it remained until 2019 when the most recent owner bought it on Bring a Trailer. He is a long-time Glen Shelly regular, and always has a keen eye for the good ones! He sent it to us a short while ago to remedy the one option that this car was missing from the factory: a proper manual transmission. We performed a 5-speed swap and a round of other maintenance to bring it up to our standards. The 5-speed swap included a rebuilt driveshaft, fresh clutch kit, clutch hydraulics and associated parts. Other maintenance included replacing the water pump, thermostat, spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, rebuilding the fuel injectors, and a fresh valve adjustment. The catalytic converters and muffler were also replaced. Then, when he came to pick it up, the previous owner fell in love with an M Coupe we had in the hangar, and the rest was history—and we certainly couldn’t turn away a 535iS of this caliber. Driving the 535iS is a journey back in time—a time of greatness for BMW. This is by far the nicest 535iS we’ve had, and we’ve only made it better under the short stewardship of the previous owner. As it sits, it is a turn-key example ready for the next chapter of its story.

Exterior

1988 BMW 535iS exterior photo

Alpine White looks fantastic; it accentuates the E28’s form over chrome accents. The paint is in excellent shape; it has always clearly been stored indoors and spared exposure to harsh conditions. There are no glaring paint defects, paint chips, or peeling. There is minor rust in the trunk floor area, as well as the inner lower seams of the doors. There is a small hairline fracture in the right side trunk lid mounting point, it doesn’t affect the operation of the trunk, but we recommend avoiding slamming it to prevent it from getting worse. The VIN tags are missing on both of the driver’s side doors. The Carfax is clean. The silver trim is in good condition, but does have some UV fade. The headlight lenses have minor pitting, but are crack-free. The markers, indicators, and taillights are in excellent condition. The passenger side taillight has some small spider-cracking, but it does not catch the eye easily. The plastic trim surrounding the diving board bumpers is not warped and looks great. The windshield glass has minor pitting, but no cracks. The 16” E38 Style 5 wheels look great with no major curb rash. The center caps are present with BMW roundels. They are wrapped in Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 tires with plenty of tread remaining.

Interior

 interior photo

The interior is absolutely the highlight. Interiors were a weak spot of E28s, but this one is an outlier, and really stands out with its Cardinal Red leather. There are no odors other than that fantastic classic BMW leather smell; it has never been smoked in. The carpets are free of rips or stains and have been protected by factory floor mats. The dashboard has a couple small cracks typical of E28 dashboard. They are not glaring, and it is in otherwise excellent condition. Also included is a hard dash cap that will preserve the dashboard as well as hide any imperfections. The instrument cluster gauges and lights work, including the odometer, and there are no check engine or ABS lights. The brake lining light bulb is inop. The 13-button on-board computer and the radio have good LCD screens with good backlighting. The heat blows warm. The A/C compressor kicks on, but is not cold. The blower motor is quiet. All power door locks work. The power windows work as well, albeit a bit slowly. The door cards are in excellent shape. The power mirrors work. The seat leather is in excellent condition, with minimal creasing or wear. All power seat functions, including the power headrests work, but the passenger side recline and tilt functions are reversed on the buttons. The ZHP shift knob is perfect, and the shifter and e-brake boots are excellent. The owners’ manuals are all present, along with a complete factory toolkit.

Mechanical

 engine photo

When you buy a used BMW, you buy the previous owner’s stewardship. This E28 comes with thorough records dating back to 2012. It will certainly need continued care and maintenance—and it deserves it—but as it sits, it is a turn-key E28 535iS. The M30 fires on command, idles smoothly, and pulls strongly to redline thanks to the complete round of maintenance mentioned in the summary paragraph. The addition of the manual transmission puts it light-years ahead of the automatic in terms of an engaging driving experience. When the swap was done, it received a new clutch and fresh shifter bushings. The shifter is smooth and the bushings are tight; the only evidence of the 5-speed swap is the position of the reverse shift is slightly farther towards the driver and brushes the edge of the center console. It does not drip or spot, but it is a 1980s BMW so keep that in mind. The suspension is firm, but compliant, it handles wonderfully thanks to the H&Rs and Bilsteins. The brakes are strong and it passes emissions in the State of Colorado.

VIN Decode

 exterior photo

VIN Decode

  • VIN: WBADC8400J3261627
  • Prod. Date: 1987-06-25
  • Type: 535i A (USA)
  • Development Code: E28
  • Chassis: LIM
  • Steering: Left Hand Drive
  • Engine: M30
  • Displacement: 3.50
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Color: Alpine White (Alpinweiss - 146)
  • Upholstery: Cardinal Red Leather (256)

Options

  • 716 Aerodynamics Package
  • 458 Electr Front Seat Adjustment
  • 481 Sports Seat
  • 551 Onboard Computer II with Remote Control
  • 209 Differential Lock 25%
  • 226 Sports Suspension Settings

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