BMW 5 SERIES M 535 I 1981 (1981)




When 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.
1981 E12 M535 I
51,000 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.
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 51,000 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 car has now been bought out of storage and is passing 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 will carrying out some cosmetic paintwork to the car and the front spoiler before fitting new bright work as required, new rear bumper sections as required and new Motorsport stripes
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.
The photos shown are when I collected the car in 2010. The photos will be updated once the car is complete and with a new set of Motorsport stripes fitted.
Please call Barney to discuss this extremely exciting Super-Saloon

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  • Mileage: 51,000
  • Year: 1981
  • Doors: 4
  • Body type: Saloon
  • Transmission type: Manual
  • Fuel type: Petrol
  • Colour: Silver


  • Engine layout: Front Engined
  • Engine size (Litres): 3.5
  • Engine configuration: 6 cylinder
  • Cylinder layout: Inline
  • Cylinders: 6
  • Driven wheels: Rear Wheel Drive
  • Previous owners: 3

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Classic Heroes

East Sussex, United Kingdom

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