1981 BMW (E12) M535i

This BMW M535i is a cherished example of the very first production sedan to wear the exclusive ‘M’ badge and was the precursor to the original BMW M5. This highly specified car presents in unmodified condition, finished in Kastanien Rot (Chestnut Red) over a light grey leather interior. It is powered by the numbers-matching 218hp 3.5-litre naturally aspirated straight-six, with power sent to the rear wheels through a motorsport-derived ‘dog leg’ five-speed manual gearbox and 25% limited-slip differential.

BMW’s current crop of M Performance cars owe their lineage to the M535i popularising the format of a fast yet relatively discreet saloon car. This example makes for a rare ownership opportunity presenting in superb condition, and the odometer shows 59,942 miles.

Built in 1981 and delivered when new to the UK, this M535i was imported to Australia in February 1993 where it subsequently featured as part of a large Sydney-based car collection. It was then taken off the road in 2005 and put into storage where it remained until 2020.

The Chestnut Red paintwork presents beautifully with the optional and sought-after tri-colour BMW Motorsport stripes highlighting the M535i body kit. The body is in excellent condition, understood to retain all of its original panels and with no prior accident damage. The exterior plastics, chrome trim and rubber seals all appear in good condition, including the rear boot lid spoiler. The sunroof and optional power windows are in full working order.

There have been some minor paint repairs to the sunroof surround and the front windscreen surround, as well as a recent repaint of the boot lid following a local rust repair. Otherwise, the paint is believed to be original throughout, with only some minor blemishes as to be expected from a 40-year-old vehicle. The car rides on the correct 14-inch BBS cross-spoke alloy wheels, all fitted with brand-new Nankang tyres.

The interior presents in excellent original condition, with no cracks on the dashboard plastic. The Recaro sport seats finished in optional grey leather show only minor signs of ageing, with some small marks on the driver’s seat bolsters. The three-spoke steering wheel is in very good order, as are the wood inlays, door cards, and the headlining. An original Blaupunkt stereo is present plus a rare 1980s Blaupunkt radio tuner. Although the speakers are not original, the remainder of the interior remains as it left the factory. The boot houses the original carpet, spare wheel and the complete original BMW tool kit and jack.

The vehicle was subject to a full recommissioning in November 2020, after coming out of storage. This was carried out by AZ Auto in Sydney, NSW, where a comprehensive assessment of the car was completed and a major service was performed, which included replacement of all fluids, filters, spark plugs and a flow service for the fuel injectors. In addition, the water pump, thermostat and all drive belts were replaced; the rear differential mount was repaired; a new fuel pump and fuel sender unit were fitted, a new BCM fuel control and fuel hoses were installed, and the fuel tank was removed and cleaned. The alternator was reconditioned, the power steering system was serviced, new brake lines were fitted, and a new battery was installed. Finally, the car was fitted with a fresh set of tyres, a new wiper motor, and new wiper blades.

The M535i will be sold with a replacement set of period-correct E12 M535i BMW books and manuals as unfortunately much of the service history pre-2004 is missing. Prior to going into storage, the E12 was serviced at Moxham Automotive in NSW in 2004 at 54,900 miles,

It is understood that only 450 right-hand drive versions of the BMW M535i were built, and there are only a handful currently on the road in Australia. This therefore represents an unmissable opportunity to acquire a rare modern classic, which is now in superb mechanical order following its recommissioning works in 2020. With low mileage and a great factory specification, this will appeal to serious collectors and keen drivers alike, and would make a fantastic addition to any garage.

The description of this auction lot is, to the best of the seller's knowledge, accurate and not misleading. Collecting Cars requests a range of detail about the lot from the seller, and performs a level of due diligence. However, bidders must satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of the description, and conduct any research they feel is necessary before committing to a bid. Please see our Terms and Conditions for full details.

This vehicle’s VIN has been checked against the Australian Personal Property Securities Register, and there is no security interest or other registration kind logged against the serial number. This vehicle has been checked through the Austroads NEVDIS system, and there are no markers under the written-off or stolen databases.

Car Overview

  • 59,942 miles
  • manual
  • RHD
  • Chestnut Red
  • Grey Leather
  • 3.5L
  • VINWBADG0209B4148313

Lot Overview

  • Lot #03161
  • private Sale
  • Sydney, Australia


  • Bullesmily

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