1982 BMW 5 Series 528i 2.8 liter petrol M30 from Italy
Top reliability, top performance (still today), good comfort, engine sound, satisfactory economy
Windscreen "bubbled" (when 25 years old).
Clima regulator buttons broken (when 23 years old).
TRX tires prone to wear irregularly with steps on the tread (every time I changed them).
Two ABS sensors were changed because of the ABS warning light.
Throttle body changed to eliminate "pendular" idle (when 20 years old).
When I purchased this car, my target was to use it for a few years and a few tens of thousands km, thinking it was a car near to its end, to be purchased cheap. I was completely wrong. Interior was like new, body had no dents or scratches, but some panels had a different paint tone, due - as the seller said - to a different body shop repair due to parking damage in a different period. The engine ran fairly good, some smoke by the exhaust, not caused by wear (compression test performed), but due to the rubbers of the valves.
After five years and fifty thousand km, I decided to restore it: new paint coat of the original opal green, engine revision with new throttle body to eliminate the annoying pendular idle and new rubbers to the valves; a new exhaust line was fitted, too. After that, one of the clima buttons was lost because its arm support made by Zamak cracked (changed for a used arm support) and the windscreen was changed because of incoming small bubbles, a common defect for stratified windscreens.
Performance was at the top for its age; even if today it is still good for a 135 kW car to reach the kilometer in 29 seconds and 0-100 km/h in 8-8.5 seconds. Someone could be tempted to think of this car as a thirsty one, but it is a real matter to drive at 120-130 km/h for more than 700 km with no need to refill the tank (70 liters capacity); of course, pumping the gas pedal or driving in town traffic, the most common average is 7 to 8 km/l. Anyway, the best average I got was 11.8 km/l, the worst one was 8.3 km/l.
Comfort is very, very good. The engine can be defined noisy, but who can described the M30 sound as noise? On the contrary, I'm sure that a BMW enthusiast likes this sound: it is a sound of the "Engine Hall of Fame".
Handling is good; only in the wet does this car require a careful management of the gas pedal (the mine has no locking final drive), and the steering is light and quite precise.
Pay attention to the tires: TRX are very expensive and they are good only when new or almost new; a residual 5-6 mm of tread is not sufficient to ensure good driving, because of the step on the tread itself. Unfortunately, if you want to change them, it is necessary to change the wheels, too, being not possible to fit inch-shape tires on metric TRX wheels.
I still own this car, the engine is running good, no oil consumption, my mileage is about six thousand per year: it is time this car became a historic one.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th April, 2018
8th Apr 2018, 21:48
Nice review. The old 5-series was always a nice car, but you should try the E34 5-series next, from about 1988-1995. Even they are getting into classic/historic territory now at more than 20 years old. Also most still used the same proven straight six M30 engine if I'm not mistaken.
1st Jun 2018, 13:16
Correct. E34 model had two series, the first (up to 92) one was M30B30 and M30B35 installed. The 3.5 liter was better than the 3 liter: small issues - like the higher petrol usage, strange but true - characterized the smaller version. The 3.5 liter was unchanged compared to the E28 one. Most of the experts confirm the 3.5 is the best among the several versions of the M30 engine, apart from the 24 valve version, of course (which can be practically said to be a different engine, as BMW itself calls it the S38).
Years ago, I had the opportunity to buy a 520i: a well preserved specimen of 1991; unfortunately it was the 24 valve pre-Vanos, which has a poor yield if you rev low than 3500 - 4000. The following years I was not able to find a good specimen: the first millennium decade was a continuous scrapping campaign in Italy and the large sedans were 99% scrapped or exported.