ETC
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
The very first BMW 5-Series was the E12, built for the 1972 through 1981 model years. The 1975 530i was the first model made specifically for the North American market, and prosperous orthodontists and attorneys across the continent ditched their Buicks for these taut and stylish Germans. By 1980, the debut of the bigger and cushier E28 5-Series was looming and the E12 was looking a bit dated, but this one managed to stay in circulation for nearly 40 years, finally ending up in this Northern California self-service yard.



Actually, the low odometer reading and relatively clean interior suggest that this car may have spent years or even decades parked indoors, awaiting repairs that never came.



Not a bit of rust, and the leather looks good. Unfortunately for Malaise Era German cars in California, the final smog-exempt year under the Golden State's draconian emissions rules is 1975, making it harder to get a car like this through the smog check than it is to get a rich man into heaven. That means that few are willing to take on the restoration of a 1980 BMW, especially one with an automatic.



The 2.8-liter SOHC straight-six in this car was rated at 169 horsepower, which seems laughable by 21st-century 5-Series standards but was decent in 1980 (when the hairiest Corvette available had just 230 horses and wasn't even available in California). The hottest engine car shoppers could get in the 1980 Buick LeSabre was a 5.7-liter V8 rated at 155 horsepower, though the LeSabre's price was half that of the 528i.



Even as BMW grabbed sales from Detroit luxury sedans, though, Japanese car companies were beginning to steal customers from BMW; the Datsun 810 and Toyota Cressida combined modern technology with excellent build quality, with skinnier sticker prices.



Now that everyone wants LED or HID driving lights, these Hellas will stay on the car until it gets crushed. That wouldn't have been the case even five years ago, when lights like this got snapped up right away at junkyards.



I see the occasional E12 during my junkyard travels, but early E28s are far more numerous.



Just the car for those winding roads in the Bavarian Alps.

Share This Photo X