BMW 528 (E12) | PH Private Area

As we prepare to welcome a new 5 Series, an opportunity to revisit the glorious first

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 21 September 2023 / Loading comments

It’s amazing to think that the BMW 5 Series is now in its eighth generation. The G60 is a hugely significant 5 Series, too, though it can feel like they all are at the start. Not only is the electric i5 available alongside the combustion-powered models from the get-go, but there’s also going to be an M5 Touring for just the third time in the near-40-year history of the M-badged flagship. So that’s something to be excited about.

It’s hard to imagine the 5 Series without an M5, but the entire first generation existed without one. There was an M535i, yes, and the exceptionally rare 530 MLE for South Africa, but no fully-fledged M car. This makes sense, actually, because M Division was only formed in the same year as the first 5 Series arrived – that’s how old BMW’s standard bearer is. Which was kind of forgotten about in the inevitable 50 years of M celebrations last year. With the motorsport division all about racing back then, a go-faster saloon wasn’t a priority.

Anyway, the 5 Series in question, a 1977 528. Note there’s no ‘i’ on the end there, as fuel was still provided by carbs back then, this E12 having been built just before the introduction of injection. It’s a really, really old saloon car nowadays (the gearbox has just four speeds), even if it still looks fabulous. What we all probably had in our mind still as a 30-year-old BMW is now past 45…

Some of you may recognise this 5 Series from the PH Readers’ Cars thread, which is how we came across it. Owned by PHer Fred since 2016, you only need to look at a few pics or read the first couple of updates to see the love and effort that’s gone into classic BMW ownership. Suffice it to say the 528 didn’t always look this good, not least because the body was stripped and repainted (among many, many other jobs). Now, after seven years, it’s time to sell.

In fact, even for those who knew nothing about the thread, the advert is chock full of information that points to considered, careful ownership. When things like the differential have been changed for better high-speed cruising, it’s clearly been a real passion project. If you haven’t got time for the entire thread, flick through the advert, because it’s a really heartening read. Nothing has been skimped on, and the results speak for themselves. Those nonplussed by modern BMW styling (inside and out) need look no further.

It’s pointed out in the forum that the E12 doesn’t really seem to get the love of later 5 Series, and perhaps that’s because there wasn’t an M5; even the M535i has only recently become a prized asset. But for those after a classic straight six, manual BMW, it means this 528 is more affordable than similar contemporary models – have you seen how much an E24 6 Series is these days? Here’s an incredibly rare, exceedingly handsome, lovingly cared for old BMW for £17,995. Don’t say we never do sensible consumer advice on PH.


Engine: 2,788cc, straight six
Transmission: 4-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 170@5,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 173@4,000rpm
MPG: 22ish
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 1977
Recorded mileage: 112,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £17,995

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