1981 BMW E12 M535i


If you are into old-school rare Bimmers, take a look at this 1981 E12. Less than a thousand left-hand drive units were made out of a total run of 1410. This example is decked in classic BMW Polaris Silver and swanky black corduroy fabric. Enough to make any Bond girl feel at ease in the back seat.

Other highlights include a full Alpina suspension, Schrick cam, and some solid leakdown numbers for the old girl. Price of entry is $19,900 for this classic beauty. Currently located in Calgary but supposedly can be re-imported into the US without much difficulty.

Year: 1981
Make: BMW
Model: E12 M535i
Engine: 3.4 inline six
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 138,700 miles
Price: $19,900


I bought this car in 2010 and have enjoyed it immensely. I have entered the car in the last three Spring Thaw Rallys (http://www.classiccaradventures.com/…-thaw-classic/) in British Columbia and have driven the car from Calgary to Vancouver for the start of each event. It runs flawlessly.

Highlights of the car include:

  • 1 of 960 LHD units (1410 in total) produced. This is one of the last produced.
  • Imported into US from Switzerland in 1998 – have all EPA/DOT releases and nearly complete records from original sale in Italy. My research indicates that because the car has been registered in the USA, it can be reimported into the US without payment of any duty.
  • Car had a repaint in original Polaris approximately 10 years ago and still presents very well. About as rust free as you can make an E12 BMW – which is to say, some minor surface corrosion underneath but nothing on the body. I had all areas showing evidence of corrosion addressed two years ago, including the right front jack point, two small patches on the trunk opening, the spare tire well and a spot on the LF fender where the side marker light was removed when repainted.
  • Alpina B9 ‘big valved’ head with Schrick 290 degree camshaft
  • Alpina B7 turbo intake manifold
  • Full Alpina suspension (special valved Bilstein shocks, Alpina springs and Alpina rear anti-roll bar). Have original M535i-specific suspension parts as well.
  • 16″ Alpina wheels. Have original 14″ BBS Mahle wheels as well.
  • Interior very nice. Crack-free dash, original Recaro seats in black corduroy fabric (driver’s seat bolster is showing wear but have enough OEM replacement fabric to redo front seats), excellent original carpet.
  • 138,700 miles. The Alpina head and intake manifold were installed at 126,000 miles.
  • Recent (this spring) work includes new OEM fuel tank, new water pump, new belts and valve adjustment
  • Compression and leakdown tests from the PPI conducted in 2010 when I bought the car were: #1 – 190 – 3% leakdown; #2 – 180 – 5% leakdown; #3 – 190 – 5% leakdown; #4- 180 – 12% leakdown; #5 – 185 – 4% leakdown; #6 – 190 – 2% leakdown. No reason to think those numbers have degraded.

More photos can be found at the seller’s Photobucket stream.

Click here for the full ad on Bimmerforums.

3 thoughts on “1981 BMW E12 M535i

    • The E12 and E28s are some of my favorite Bimmers. I will have one some day, despite my wife thinking they are ugly. Thanks for visiting, Mike.

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