Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5k: E12 Driver: 1981 BMW 528i

The Paul Bracq designed E12 luxury sedan was the first BMW to wear the 5-series name.  It was a huge leap forward in performance and build quality when compared to the E3 (aka Bavaria) it replaced, but isn't quite as well built as the E28.  Fortunately prices for a nice E12 are very favorable for the buyer and nice ones are cheap.  Find this 1981 BMW 528i here on eBay offered for $4,850 buy-it-now located in Washington, CT.

This E12 528i is powered by a 2.8 liter M30 inline-6 rated at 169 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque for the USA market.  While criticized for US spec bumpers and sealed-beam headlights, most sold on this side of the Atlantic were equipped with supple leather, and loaded with creature comfort options.

This one looks as nice on the inside as it does on the out (with the exception of some rusting in the interior door panels, trunk lid, a side marker lights.)  However, for the price it seems like it could be worth a look.

See a classic for sale on a rug?


  1. Hey, I love the E12, but I wouldn't say it's a step up in build quality over the E3,.

    What you did have with the E12, and with the rest of the big BMW line, was a progressive advancement in the mechanicals, the automatic transmissions didn't really get better for a long time (I'd argue 1997) but you got a 5-speed manual, the Solex-carb-to-D-Jet-to-Motronic progression, the mid '70s were horrific for smog-controls until BMW finally caved to the inevitable and went to cats...)

  2. But, as a Californian, the only E12 I'd spend real money on is a clean '75 530i.

    And I don't care what the mechanicals are like, because they'd be out of the car the afternoon I trailered it home.

  3. The Hack MechanicJune 5, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    I don't usually nitpick, but the E12 didn't replace the E3 (Bavaria). It was the 7 Series (733i) that replaced the E3. The 5 Series (530i/528i) replaced the four-door "Neue Klasse" cars, the four-door 1800 and 2000.

    1. You know you've committed a serious fact-checking faux pas when a 'BMW Celebrity' comes out of the woodwork to nitpick your post. Next thing you know Satch is going to chime in that he crashed one of these things in La Jolla while trying to drag race an M1...

    2. Yeah, but if I'm going to get BMW fact boom-sizzled, I suppose I'd be ok if it was by Rob.


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