By on September 17, 2012

Air conditioning, Automatic, Leather Seats, and what passes as true luxury for those Northern types who are used to keeping an old European car.  A rear defroster! This age old beauty will be sold this week at a nearby auction in Atlanta.

Name it. Year, make, model, prior owner, their phone number… anything that would help me buy it when I’m bidding against 80+ dealers.  I need all the help I can get.

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17 Comments on “Name That Car: BMW What???...”

  • avatar

    Nice E12. A 530i perhaps?

  • avatar

    You might criticise recent BMW styling but it seems they’ve learned to integrate a bumper over the last 30 years!

    Those are like boardwalks.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to agree. BMW’s US bumpers were an atrocity until they went to plastic covers in the late 80s to early 90s.

    • 0 avatar

      Bumper standards were relaxed in the past 20-25 years from 5 mph back to 2.5 mph, to save weight for better MPG/CAFE #’s. That is why late model bumpers are smaller.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m so glad I learned to drive in the era of 5MPH bumpers. Those things saved me numerous times. Tap a pole in a parking lot today, and you’re looking at $100s or even $1000s in repairs.

      • 0 avatar

        Worse than that, the only standard is protecting “safety equipment” (airbag sensors, lights) from that single 2.5 mph impact.

        If parts that aren’t safety equipment take $4,000 in damage in the process that’s still a passing grade.

  • avatar

    See those front wheels? Nearly impossible to keep clean of brake dust.
    See those rear wheels? Don’t even think about lifting in a turn. Wheeeeeeee!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    If it’s a 524td, just stay home. You’ll never win.

  • avatar

    The black mirrors make it an ’80 or ’81 528i. These cars were a high point for BMW in the US, and people held onto them until the E28 533i came to market. They were preferable to the 530i that preceded them because of superior emissions controls that were durable and didn’t cook the heads. It is a pretty desirable car, but chances are you’ll have a hard time finding an automatic transmission buyer that has any business driving a thirty year old car. When it comes to old BMWs, manuals are far more in demand for good reasons.

  • avatar

    It’s a later 5-series, ie a 528i. Up-level wheels and mirrors make it unlikely to be a 530i.

    Nice car, last of the real 4-doors for a while (until the overpriced 533i joined the 528e), too bad it’s an auto.

  • avatar


    • 0 avatar

      First of the e28s in the States, and all they offered at first.

      The “e” stood for “eta” or efficiency. Some German brainiac decided that the way to deal with American emissions and fuel economy standards was to take their fine, high revving 2.5l inline six and bore and stroke it to 2.7L, put a super lightweight friction reducing valvetrain in it, and tune it for maximum low end torque. Due to this super light valvetrain, the redline was reduced to ~4700 rpm. Raised to 5K in the later ones. It worked, the fuel economy was surprising good, but it sure took all the fun out of the car. The engine still WANTED to rev, but just as it started to take off you hit the rev limiter. Not as bad with the slushbox, but the manual transmission ones were annoying.

      My Mom drove an ’83 528e with 3spd slushbox for ages, my Stepfather bought it new. Sold it to a friend who kept it to over 250K. The thing was wonderfully smooth and bulletproof, but SLOW. It really was a German Buick.

    • 0 avatar

      It is not a 528e. They were E28s. This is an E12 from the last two years of production and therefore is a 528i.

  • avatar

    The 530i came out in 75 or 76 and developed a reputation for blowing head gaskets with the thermal reactor emissions controls BMW tried. It was replaced by the 528i which was much better and used a cat.

    I’d guess 528i, but in that kind of condition any real manufacturer’s problems from the 70s have been addressed by this point in the car’s life, and any of the usual checks for an old used car would tell you plenty about it. Any chance you can look under the hood?

  • avatar

    No, you all have it wrong.

    In answer to the question “name that BMW”, the name “Bertel” comes to mind.

    (reference to the obscure SNL bit “Name the bats” from when Michael Palin was the guest host)

  • avatar

    I so wish we could link to YouTube again.

    This is a prefect thread for the Saturday Night Live Steve Martin, “what the Hell is that,” sketch.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Great guesses everyone!

    It is indeed a 1980 BMW 528i. Not even a grey market car. This one is the real Americanized McCoy with the ‘retainer sized’ front bumper.

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