Monday, August 31, 2015

E28 M-Spork: 1985 BMW M535i

Many sellers on Craigslist write preposterous statements about their BMW such as-- BMW 318i, M-Sport, basically an M3 with better fuel economy.  This is good stuff, except that it isn't an M car any more than it is a cancer fighting cure for ebola on the end of a Q-tip.  Simply put, a modern M-package 3/5-series isn't anything like a real M car and misses all the good stuff that takes the average BMW from a simple family luxo-sedan to a track monster.  However, there was a time when the M-badge was actually placed by the factory on the E28 5-series for the European market, and it makes a case for a spot in your garage.  Like this 1985 BMW M535i offered for $8250 in Lexington, KY via craigslist.  Tip from FuelTruck.

 The M535i did leave the BMW factory with the M insignia you see here (from 1985-1988), and it used the powerful fuel injected 535i inline-6 but added M-Technic suspension, fancy wheels and a bodykit similar to what you saw on the M5 later.  BMW never offered the M535i here in the US and instead we got the 535is, but the M535i is the spork of the e28 lineup, offering the reliability of the 535i with the eagerness to turn of the M5.

The S38 is a fantastic engine and does an admirable job under the hood of any E28/E34, but the M30B35 in this European import makes 218 horsepower versus 256 of the S38, from a considerably less complex SOHC setup with a simple Bosch Motronic fuel injection.  Would you forsake 38 horsepower to rid yourself of the complexity/cost/maintenance of the M5 engine that you'll use only a few times a day? 

On the inside this car looks pretty hammered, but thankfully the world is full of cheap 528e examples that you can use to source some nice leather and a better dash board. 

See a better car for parking like an @sshat?


  1. Nice feature! I have an e28 535is that I picked up recently for a song and I am currently seriously considering moving it from weekend fun car to daily driver, given how much I enjoy driving it and how reliable it's been.

    One correction....unless it's been swapped (and it's a common swap), the engine in this car is a 182hp it's down about 30 hp on the B35 (the B35 debuted in the e34 535i, e32 735i, and 88-89 only 635csi).

    Those are cloth seats (rare and desireable in sport seat configuration), so don't you dare put in a crappy 528e seat, and nice dashboards are approaching unicorn status these days too.

  2. This is a good car if you just ignore the M badge. It's a Euro 535i with a factory bodykit and the best factory suspension (better than what the M5 had, iirc. Not that much is still stock 30 years later anyway.), which is plenty awesome. '85 means it has the one year only G265 gearbox, which is considered stronger than the more common g260. Slight correction (to previous comment AND the article), the engine is an M30B34, but since it's euro spec, it has 10:1 compression and no cat instead of the North American 8:1 with cat. 218hp is correct for this car. Use the highest octane gas you can find. I understand you still might get some pinging with even 93 on occasion.

    I'm half tempted to buy this and daily it. It would be cheaper to run and more fun than my E90 for sure. Not to mention I've almost got a warehouse of parts that'll fit.

    I'm disappointed in you guys for publishing mean words about the venerable S38. The cost, complexity, and hunger for maintenance are just things you must abide for the privilege of owning one of the most soulful powerplants ever designed. It's not about the power, really, quit worrying about the number, because when you mat the skinny pedal, the torque envelops you like a lover's embrace (add euro headers/cams, and it strikes like a nympho mistress you can't keep up with). Shut up, strap in, and try to tell me you can put a price on that divine bark. Can I get an Amen!

    1. Thanks for the additional insight Slowboy----it looks like both the high compression and low compression B4's were available in Europe (and in M535is), and it would depend on the country this example was imported from to know which one it was? Is there some giveaway you can see from the underhood shot that shows which of the Euro motors we're looking at?

    2. As far as I know, the only differences are internal. Pistons are flat topped or piano topped (they have what looks like a baby grand on top) instead of dished. And I'm pretty sure the cam shafts are different. I forget what numbers the euro ECUs have on them, but they're different models from the low compression motors. Unless peak power matters to you, the B35 is usually regarded as the best M30, mostly due to the Motronic 1.3 vs the 1.0 system of the older motors. It idles better, and gets (arguably) better fuel economy, and makes good power even with 9:1 compression and a catalyst.

  3. Back in the early 90's a friend of mine was an instructor with the BMW club and he took me for a couple of hot laps od Summit Point in an E28 535is. Plenty of power. AND SO MUCH TORQUE! Maybe the stats make it look like not a huge amount of power, but for the day a Mustang GT was only making 225. And My God, THE SOUND. THE SOUND IS SO GLORIOUS. I fell in love with these that day. I haven't been able to own one but it is definitely on my wish list.


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.