Mileage: 140,533 Miles (Chassis)
Engine: M30B35 Inline 6-Cylinder Engine (from a 1990 735i)
Transmission: 5-Speed G265 Transmission
Exterior color: Brazil Brown (Brasilbraun) Metallic Exterior (154)
Interior: Beige Leather Interior (0438) with Wood Trim
Fresh Head Gasket, Timing Chain / Tensioners, Oil Pan Gasket
Koala Motorsport Engine Mount Adapters
Ireland Engineering Headers
High Flow Cats (test pipe also included)
Ireland Engineering E28 535i Rear Muffler
ST Lowering Springs
Bilstein Sport Shocks
Front Strut Brace
BMP Design “E28 Styling Kit” Bumpers
Alpina Rear Spoiler
Passenger Side Mirror
M Tech I Steering Wheel
Reconditioned Recaro Sport Front Seats
Reconditioned Rear Seats /w 735i Rear Headrests
Very Clean Dashboard
Mushroom Shift Knob
Factory Air Conditioning (R134 converted)
VDO Continental TR7412UB-OR Stereo w/ Bluetooth
Premium Sound System
Large Tool Kit with Red Screw Drivers
Staggered Alpina 16x7” Front / 16x8” Wheels
Kumho Ecsta AST Tires
California / Washington State Car
The BMW E12 was the first 5 Series. It was a genesis in the segment that came to define BMW: the sports sedan. The E12 was a complete redesign, rather than an evolution of the Neue Klasse sedans. That design came to reality under the leadership of legendary designer Paul Bracq, who was appointed as BMW’s chief of design for the E12. The sleek three-box design (one of the sleekest three-boxes BMW has ever made) was honed in wind tunnel testing and computers were used to calculate crumple zones—both technologies that were more akin to a space program than a family saloon in the late-1960s when the E12 was developed. The end result was the recipe that would come to define the 5 Series for generations to follow: a refined sedan that encapsulated its occupants in civilized comfort, but with the power and handling to match the sports cars of the day. It was the birth of the sports sedan! In 1974, BMW M GmbH started tuning E12s with upgrades to the 525 and 528 models. Then, in 1979, the M535i debuted as the predecessor to the E28 M5 and a legacy was born.
This particular E12 is an outlier example. It started as a very nice Brazil Brown Metallic over Beige leather 1980 528i. Its known history goes back to 2002, when with 85K miles it was featured as the October Car of the Month on FirstFives.org. It was reportedly purchased from a “5 Series nut” in Sacramento, California who had outfitted it with a BMP Bumper kit, an Alpina rear spoiler, re-conditioned Recaro sport seats, 735i rear headrests, ST lowering springs, and sixteen-inch Alpina wheels.
It changed hands once after that before landing with the current owner in 2013 with 136K miles. Under that owner’s care, the original M30B28 was swapped out for an M30B35 from a 1990 735i using Koala Motorsport engine mount adapters. Before installation, the head gasket and timing components were replaced, along with the oil pan gasket. Then, Ireland Engineering headers and a 535i exhaust were added. Inside the dashboard was replaced with a nearly crack-free dashboard, the heater controls were rebuilt, and the rear seats were reconditioned to match the front sport seats. The front bumper was repainted due to rock chips. Other notable options are an M Tech I steering wheel, Continental VDO retro-style stereo with Bluetooth and BMW premium sound speakers, a passenger side mirror (an option on E12s), R134 air conditioning conversion (currently inoperative), an E28 radiator, a front strut brace, digital clock, and a large tool kit with both (large and small) red screwdrivers. In preparation for sale, we installed high flow catalytic converters so that it is emission’s compliant (a test pipe is also included), replaced some rubber fuel lines, replaced both front brake calipers along with a used brake master cylinder, bled the brakes, replaced the fan clutch, and gave it a front end alignment. Included with the E12 is a list of considerable and expensive spares, including some very difficult to source E12 parts and Alpina-specific bits.
The M30B35 was the most powerful M30 available in the U.S. Market. In stock form, it produces 28 more horsepower and 55 more pound-feet of torque (208 HP / 225 lb-ft Tq vs. 169 HP / 170 lb-ft Tq) than the original U.S. market M30B28, and likely more in this example thanks to the headers and high-flow exhaust. The M30B35 also has the more reliable Bosch Motronic 1.3 engine management versus the B28’s finicky Bosch L-Jetronic. The end result is an extremely rare and unique E12 with one of the best period-correct (given a generation or two) engine upgrades available. It looks and drives as if BMW had originally built it that way.
The Brazil Brown (Brasilbraun) paint is in excellent condition and appears to be original, other than the BMP bumpers. The finish is glossy with few imperfections for the age of the car, pointing towards excellent stewardship over the course of its life. The BMP bumpers, Alpina trunk spoiler, and Alpina wheels perfectly complement the lowered stance on the ST springs and Bilstein shocks. The most notable imperfection on the car is a crease just above the body line on the driver’s side rear quarter panel; our PDR guy recommended to leave it alone, thankfully it sits so perfectly above the body line it does not look out of place. There is a narrow patch of failed clear coat on the hood, as well as a small corner of failed clear coat on the roof. The front bumper is very nice, having recently been resprayed. The rear has some chips from rear tire spray, as well as a moderately sized scuff on the trim. The trim around the car is likewise in great shape, with minor UV fade. The headlights are euro Hella H4 low beams with H1 high beams; they have moderate pitting, but no cracks. The fog lights are not connected and the right side one has a broken clip. The front and rear corner markers have faint hairline cracks but are still very presentable. The glass around the car is excellent, with only minor pitting present on the windshield. The Alpina wheels have some minor curbing on the passenger side; the driver’s side has no curb rash, only some minor nicks and scratches. They are wrapped in Kumho Ecsta AST tires with 70% tread. They are older, with 2010 dates, but do not show any signs of dry rot.
The interior is in excellent condition. The carpet is free of stains and tears. The headliner does not sag; there is some staining on the C-Pillars and a minor one-inch tear by the sunroof. The door cards are all excellent, with the leather and plastics being very above average, although the wood trim has some cracking in the finish. The M Tech 1 steering wheel is a great addition to the interior, although the leather is tired and cracking towards the top. The dashboard is excellent; it has some fading of the color in the parcel tray and below the center vent, and a handful of very minor cracks outside the driver and passenger’s field of view. The fog lights are not connected. The heat blows warm; the blower fan only works on position two and three. The air conditioning system is present, but it is inoperative. The Continental head unit sounds great and looks period correct. The center console is very clean; the ashtray cover is slightly faded. The front and rear seats both look absolutely fantastic and have no notable wear thanks to being recovered. The full factory tool kit is present, including both the large and small BMW red screwdrivers.
This is a great example of a lightly hot-rodded E12 5-series. The M30B35 is the perfect upgrade to replace the M30B28, being more refined (thanks to the significantly better engine management) and more powerful, thanks to the increased displacement. The M30B35 always fires on command, pulls very strongly, and sounds great through the Ireland Engineering headers and free-flowing exhaust. There are no notable oil leaks. The transmission shifts smoothly, and the clutch take-up is correct. The sport suspension is tight, with no clunks or rattles. The brakes are firm and strong, thanks to replacement of the front calipers and installing a good used master cylinder. There are no wheel bearing or driveline vibrations. This is a great example of a turn-key E12 528i. Like all older BMW’s, it will need continued care and maintenance, and it absolutely deserves it. We are excited to meet the next owner who will enjoy and care for it for years to come.