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BMW E12 M535i


             hen BMW Motorsport shoe-horned the 3.5 litre 220bhp engine from the ‘Six’ and ‘Seven’ Series into the lighter more compact ‘Five’ they created a sports saloon that cast the mould for all future Motorsport models…understated excitement. The first generation M535 (E12), launched at the Frankfurt Show in 1979, was the first series-production saloon to wear the now distinctive M badge. Hand-assembled at BMW Motorsport’s Garching plant, just 1,410 were produced between April 1980 and May 1981 of which only 450 came with the wheel on the ‘right’ side. Only 408 of those right hand drive examples found buyers in the UK for £13,745.


This practical family saloon could hit sixty in a shade over seven seconds and on to 100mph in under 20 seconds – maximum speed 139mph. Back in 1980 only the M1 was faster. Front and rear spoilers and wider Mahle cross-spoke wheels were the only external distinguishing features. Inside there were close-fitting Recaro seats and a three-spoke Motorsport wheel first seen on the M1, The Motorsport guys worked their magic on the brakes and suspension whilst the driver found his way around the Getrag close-ratio ‘dog-leg’ gearbox.


We all agree that the E12 M535 is incredibly historic to both BMW and the automotive world as a whole. Not just did this prove to BMW that there was a demand for these very expensive, low volume super-saloons but also set an example to other manufacturers.




This superb example is a real treat, an exceptionally rare find.  Unrestored, rust-free and 100% original throughout. First registered in August 1981, it has covered a mere 54,500 miles in the hands of three owners.

The car was originally supplied by Sytner's with the second owner acquiring the car three years later in the name of his company. On his retirement he had the car re-registered in his own name in 1989 but died a few years later.

Feeling unable to part with the car, his wife with professional help had the car carefully stored in their heated garage for the next 15 years before finally decided sell to us in 2010.


The last time this car was seen by us, it had passed through the workshop for a no expense spared, age related makeover.  This work is listed below:-


Carry out Inspection II service

Carry out annual check

Replace thermostat bleed screw

Replace radiator cap

Prepare for MOT and issue MOT

Clean and adjust washer’s jets, rectify faulty washers

Rectify faulty Indicators and hazard lights

Rectify faulty radio

Replace wiper blades

Replace o/s/f sun visor clip

Clean, adjust and unseized boot lock

Replace perished alternator bushes

Replace belts and adjust

Replace o/s f and n/s/f door seals

Replace clutch slave cylinder and bleed

Replace battery

Replace o/s/f headlight cover and clips

Remove all four brake calipers and rebuild as seized. Bleed brakes

Replace both handbrake cables and adjust handbrake

Adjust o/s/f & n/s/f wheel bearing

Repair rear brake pad loom and replace sensor

Replace wiper spindle grommets

Carry out wheel refurbish

Replace boot light

Replace exhaust clamps and exhaust rubbers

Replace under bonnet fuel hoses and rear fuel hoses

Replace coolant hoses, heater hoses and clips

Fit front indicator correctly

Replace rear inner and outer trailing arm bushes

Replace front to rear fuel pipes and clips

Remove headlining and clean. 

Strip, clean, polish and detail engine bay

Strip, clean and detail boot

Clean boot tool kit and tools

Remove seats to clean and clean carpets

Road test car

Strip underside of car. Strip suspension components, clean to bare metal and powder coat. Remove all under trays and shields. Thoroughly clean underside of car. Clean all underside corrosion back to bare metal. Treat with Kurust, etch primer, primer, Gravitex and paint body colour as required. Once complete cavity wax car.


The body shop carried out some cosmetic paintwork to the car and the front spoiler before fitting new bright work, new rear bumper sections and new Motorsport stripes.


1981 E12 M535i

54,500 Miles

Polaris silver

Black cloth interior, Recaro front seats

M30, 6 cylinder, 3453 cc, 12 valve motor, Bocsh L-Jetronic, 220 bhp and 310 Nm torque

Getrag 5 Speed, close ratio, dog leg gearbox

ZF Limited Slip Differential 25% locking, 3.07 – 1 with external oil cooler

Weight 1430 kg

Power to weight full of fuel, 140bhp per 1000kg

0-60 7.5 seconds

0-100 18.2 seconds

Standing km 28 seconds

Maximum Speed 139 mph

Motorsport Springs and Bilstein dampers

Larger front and rear anti-roll bar

Front Discs 280 × 25 mm Ventilated

Rear discs 272 × 9.5mm

Mahle wheels 6.5 × 14 “

Tyres 195/70/14

Motorsport front and rear spoilers


It is proving almost impossible these days to find unrestored, original panel,  E12 M535s,  which is why this one is so exciting.  During the 90s prices fell and these cars simply rotted away and were often dismantled and the rare Motorsport parts, Recaro seats, limited slip differentials and close ratio gearboxes robbed for other BMW models.

All the original tools are still in the boot and the original handbook, M535 owners supplement and the BMW plastic service wallet are in the glovebox and original radio still fitted.

     Please contact Barney for full details on this superb E12 M535i.

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