Collecting Cars

1985 BMW (E28) 520i

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This highly-original BMW 520i is a smart example of the marque’s breakthrough executive E28 saloon, and is presented in honest, unrestored condition. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre straight-six M20 engine, producing around 127bhp, driving the rear wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox – making this an engaging and enjoyable classic from the Munich marque. The odometer shows 76,576 miles from new.

First registered in January 1985, the car has five previous keepers on the log book, and has been in the hands of the seller for more than two years. It has been driven sparingly during this time, covering just 500 miles, but has been well maintained and improved.

The Claus Luthe-designed bodywork is as simple yet elegant as it was in the mid-‘80s, while the period-perfect Bronzit Beige metallic paint is described by the seller as being in good condition – particularly for an unrestored example. As shown in the photo gallery, there are some areas of lacquer peel, for instance on the tops of the front wings, as well as small amounts of bubbling and surface rust on the inner wheel arches, and small scratches around the driver’s door handle, as is common in older classics.

There are also some small, shallow dents visible on the doors and the rear quarter panel above the tail lights, however these may be easy to rectify by a paintless dent removal specialist. All of the car’s trim strips and badges are present and correct, although the BMW bonnet emblem is showing signs of age. The light lenses are clear and free of cracks, and the chrome bumper trim is also in smart condition, save for some oxidisation to the rear unit. This E28 still rides on its original 14-inch steel wheels, finished with the correct silver-painted wheel trims, which are in fantastic condition.

The interior is finished in black vinyl, with the seat centres and door card inserts clad in grey herringbone fabric. Original and unrestored, the cabin is remarkably well preserved, with no unsightly damage to the seat bolster, grey carpeting or cream-coloured headlining. The seller notes that there is a small crack in the dashboard and a gouge in the trim on the driver’s door cap, but it certainly presents well given the age and mileage. The controls and switchgear work as they should, and there is even a period-correct Blaupunkt FM radio.

Mechanically, the car is in fine fettle, having been well cared-for over the years, with the seller describing it as driving very smartly. Its last scheduled maintenance was carried out by the seller in May 2018, when a new timing belt, water pump and auxiliary belt were fitted. The engine oil and filter were also replaced, as were the spark plugs, air filter, radiator and coolant.

Following this, more in-depth maintenance was carried out by BMW specialist Classic Bahnstormers of Cirencester throughout 2019. This included renewal of the rotor arm, fuel filter, fuel pump, and adjustment of the throttle position sensor, as well as replacement of the exhaust system for a good-quality used item.

The car was last put through an MOT test on 6 December 2019 at 76,220 miles, which resulted in a pass with a few advisories. Some corrosion was noted on the rear coil springs, the nearside indicator dashboard light was inoperative, and the front tyres were found to be slightly perished. The latter was rectified shortly afterwards by the fitment of a fresh set of budget summer tyres in size 175/60 R14 all round, which have since seen only 200 miles of road use, so are virtually as-new.

Accompanying the car are its original books, including the owner’s manual and service record. As can be seen from the maintenance summary below, nearly all of the mileage to date was covered prior to 2006. It was subsequently stored off the road for just over 10 years, before being recommissioned in 2018 and 2019. The original tool holder in the boot is present, but missing most items. However, the original wheel brace and jack are included.

A smart, honest and highly-original example, this BMW 520i has been carefully maintained and repaired to keep it in fine running order. Representing the era that the 5-series truly came into its own as an executive saloon, the E28 set the standard for BMW’s famed build quality. These are becoming a very rare sight on the road, particularly in such solid condition, and this car benefits from comprehensive recent work to ensure it runs and drives very well.

Summary of maintenance history:

  • 2 Jan 1985 – Pre-delivery
  • 30 Apr 1985 – 1,756 miles
  • 6 Dec 1985 – 6,252 miles
  • 2 Dec 1987 – 20,752 miles
  • 5 Dec 1988 – 27,466 miles
  • 4 Dec 1990 – 41,346 miles
  • 4 Dec 1991 – 48,924 miles
  • 10 Dec 1992 – 55,105 miles
  • 9 Dec 1993 – 61,174 miles
  • 6 Dec 1994 – 63,814 miles
  • 24 Nov 1996 – 65,213 miles
  • 19 Nov 1997 – 65,980 miles
  • 18 Nov 1998 – 67,030 miles
  • 1 Oct 1999 – 69,267 miles
  • 31 Oct 2000 – 71,262 miles
  • 5 Nov 2002 – 73,130 miles
  • 31 Oct 2005 – 75,118 miles
  • May 2018 – Mileage tbc
  • 29 Oct 2019 – Mileage tbc
  • 18 Dec 2019 – 76,220 miles

All cars and motorbikes on Collecting Cars are run through an online HPI check. This vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft, and has no finance owing.

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