1984 BMW 5 Series 533i from North America


Great fun car; but is it worth fixing up a 1984 533i in 2008?


The most consistent thing that went wrong with the BMW 533i was the water pump, which I learned to replace myself with the urging of a friend that worked on BMW and Mercedes for a living. It seemed every 45,000 to 55,000 miles I was replacing the after market water pumps (maybe that was the issue).

I also had to rebuild the master clutch cylinder several times; it was a bear to contort ones body under the dash and through the firewall to accomplish. However they got done.

General Comments:

* A very quick car, but rides like a sedan.

* Sporty, but holds 4 to 5 comfortably.

* Metric tires were OK to find up to the early 1990's, and then become more difficult and extremely hard to find now.

* Question to other 5 early model 5 series owners and specifically 533i owners; the car has not been running for 1.75 years, and is it worth it to invest the money to have it fixed up knowing there will be issues and it already has 265,000+/- miles on it? When asking one mechanic about it, he replied get a dog if you like nostalgia?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th February, 2008

21st Feb 2008, 07:56

I believe if the body is clean and in good shape keep it going. If its rusted or smashed, or the interior is really trashed, then its time to let it go. I firmly believe it all has to do with the cosmetics at that point.

Worse comes to worse, drop a chevy engine in it, like I've seen numerous times on Jaguars of similar vintage.

23rd Mar 2008, 12:48

I would like to answer your question.

It all depends on the state in which the car is in now and also on how much does for instance fuel economy bother you.

If you can get the parts cheaply and know a good scrap yard or someone that fixes these cars, why not.

But be warned, restoring an older car to its full life is a financial nightmare.

22nd Sep 2009, 16:37

I have a 84 533i 6cyl manual and it is an awesome car; fast, reliable and spacey.

No complaints here. Just a little knocking in the engine.

1984 BMW 5 Series 533i from North America


Amazing car to drive - my most favourite vehicle I've ever owned


Shortly after acquiring the car, I replaced a muffler and re-did the brake pads. These did not surprise me.

Over the past 7 years I have had a new radiator installed.

Being a German car with high mileage to begin with, I was concerned from the beginning about it not costing me a fortune to maintain. My strategy generally has been to source parts from two trusted local BMW wreckers ("recyclers"). Their deal has been, "here's the part off an old vehicle in our wrecking yard (at about 1/4 of the cost of an a new aftermarket part) if it breaks down, bring it back and we'll give you another = no additional charge. I generally have ignored the concept of regular maintenance, with exception of oil changes which I have done myself very regularly. Beyond this I have had a private mechanic who has come over to my place at $40 per hr. to work on things that have needed attention.

About a year ago I replaced the heater core. This (believe it or not) I did myself, using an old heater core bought from my trusty wrecker. (The labour estimate on this job was over $700, hence the motivation to figure it out myself.) It was quite a task, but I did it.

I have put in 2 alternators in the past year, bought from the wrecker, and the latest one is working great.

I have been able to maintain the metric tires on the car, which I was able to find about 2 years ago from Michelin via Montreal, although Michelin do not make them, as far as I know. The metric rims look great.

General Comments:

Here's the story. I had a version of this car which I bought new in 1984, which I owned for about 2 years before moving along to a string of other cars.

Around the year 2000 I was looking for another vehicle and recalled that the 84 BMW was by far the most favourite car I had ever owned, and started looking for one by putting notes on cars I would see parked, saying I was interested in buying it. About 6 months later I got a call from one of these noted cars, which by coincidence was the very last day of my lease expiring on a Rav4 I had been driving.

This car handles great, has lots of pep, has a very safe feel on the highway and in town, with awesome high speed acceleration.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th November, 2007

19th Jun 2010, 23:56

I just bought a 1984 533i with high mileage, and YES it needs a new heater core. Ah... I noticed you said you did it yourself, any tips??? I have been quoted $900 for the repair, YIKES. Love this car.