An exceptional, rare vehicle
Bear in mind, the vehicle needed the majority of these parts replaced due to age or recommended maintenance. No parts every failed completely.
Camshaft, rockers, rocker-shafts, head-gasket - due to previous owner not using proper grade oil, and not having valves and oiler-bar inspected/adjusted every 15K. And failing to change the coolant every 2 years with BMW coolant (Up to 90K it was serviced at BMW).
Drive-shaft, transmission, transmission mounts and bracket, differential mount, shocks and upper mounts, front upper control arm bushings (750iL type/modified), lower control arms, tie-rods, center-link, radiator, water-pump and housing, alternator bushings, rotors & pads, calipers, gas tank, fuel transfer pump, exhaust, catalytic converter - needed welding - still original, rear sub-frame mounts, rear pitman arm bushings, fuel injectors, cap & rotor, and that is it for major replacement parts.
I have owned a 1984 533i since 1997. It has been my one and only daily driver. It had 113K miles. when I bought it - and now has 185K miles. Basically, the car has been re-built. Although very expensive to rebuild it throughout the years, it truly is a very rewarding automobile. The 533i, in my opinion, is extremely rare today - almost more so than a E28 M5. If you can find a nice one, buy it.
The chassis (E28) is very solid, and the motor is the kind that made the company famous - In-line-6, M30, SOHC, 181HP, 195lb. ft. torque. Curb Weight: 3,200 lbs. est. 0-60: man. 7.7, auto. 9.4 sec. The E28 5-series (`82-`88) has an enormous trunk (same size as 750iL). Top Speed: 129-134mph.
Beware of rust. Look at inner door-panels, rear fender well lips, valence panels, license plate lights, gas tank, rocker panels, and that's usually it.
The 533i used the infamous metric TRX Tire/rims package as standard equipment. If the vehicle still has these wheels (15.4"), identified by Michelin TRX tires that can only fit size 200/60 or 220/55 - the rim/wheel is 390mm, which translates to 15.4". These tires are very hard to find, except for the Tire Rack or Coker Tire. It is common to replace these wheels/tires with more contemporary ones (14"-16"). Although the original 20-spoke, metric/TRX rims do look superb!
Be very careful driving in the rain or snow! If using it in snow, is mandatory to equip it with the best snow tires, front and rear. This requires using non-metric wheels. 14" or 15" steel wheels, equipped with period-correct BMW wheel covers are the way to go when mounting snow tires. Good snow tires make a HUGE difference.
If you buy one and want to really take care of it, you must do the following: Check the valves every 15K (inspect Banjo-bolt sprayer bar), use a heavy-grade oil (15W-40 or 20W-50), use only BMW coolant (change every 2 years), trans. fluid flush every 30K, same with differential. Keep it clean! Wash it, and wax it as much as possible (wax at least 2-3 times a year) - don't skip out on the rear or front lower valence panels - under bumpers. And condition the leather (at least twice a year). The dashboard will crack like crazy unless you treat it and/or cover it when parked in sun (windshield sun shield may help too).
Overall, the 533i is a collector car in my opinion - but can certainly be used as a daily-driver. Only 10,000 533i's were produced from 1983-1984. Bear in mind, the 528e (`82-`88), which looks identical from 50 feet away, was produced in huge numbers (over 100,000) - so comparing this to a 533i, you can see why the 533i is indeed, an endangered species.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th November, 2006