Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5k: Plain Brown Wrapper: 1985 BMW 535i E28

 If you want this writer to put on his best Carnac the Magnificent costume and make a prediction, it is that the E28 535i won't be an affordable classic for much longer.  It will simply be a classic. The E28 generation 535i combines good looks rivaling the BMW E3 Bavaria with a rust proof chassis, modern ergonomics and fuel injected reliability.  Find this 1985 BMW 535i E28 offered for $5,900 in Fernley, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.

The E28 market is currently cocooned, and as the bad examples get crushed and good ones get fixed/restored. Soon the entire market will have gone through a metamorphosis from slimy caterpillar to butterfly.  Get yours while the pricing is good.  Seriously, the 535i was on my short list before I picked up the Draken...and it would certainly have been a more reliable and easier daily driver.

The E28 535i is powered by BMW's M30B34, a 3.4 liter SOHC inline-6 rated at 182 horsepower and mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.  The 535i doesn't have the maniac thrill of the S38 powered M5, but it certainly beats the pants off of most other mid 80s luxury sedans from anywhere in the world.  This example looks nice on the inside and out in the photos, and 120k miles on a car this old isn't a bad thing. 

See a better mid 80s sedan for less?


  1. Marks for: Relatively low mileage, 85 means a Getrag 265 instead of 260 (stronger 5 speed box, 85 only on 535i) Leather in good condition. Crack free dash.

    Marks against: Bronzit Beige, TRX wheels/tires, no mention of LSD, assume none. Rust on shock tower, power seats weigh 18 metric tons, no comfier than manual ones. Probably needs all the maintenance nobody thinks to do for E28s (if the handling isn't perfectly tight, expect to replace every bushing, spring, shock, etc.) Not as fun to drive as a 533i. Bronzit Beige.

    Verdict: Pass on this for one in a real color, consider a 528e for much less money, then swap in a shorter ratio rear end to get some speed back (but not much). Aim for a late 87 or 88 528e, as those had a better ECU than the earlier models.

  2. What's the big deal with TRX wheels and tires?

  3. They're the culmination of a bunch of new technology for Michelin, and they're only available in metric sizes. In addition to BMWs, they were also standard on period Ferraris. That's the problem, though, the were state of the art as of 1978. Tires have come a long way since then. Since they were only available in metric sizes, you can't buy any inch-size tires. That means you have to spend beaucoup bucks for a reproduction of an ancient tire design. Check prices on they aren't cheap

  4. Is there some reason not to just bolt on some other non-metric wheels?

  5. Who cares what color it is ... you know you're gonna Plastidip it matte orange anyway


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