Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Today Nice Price or Crack Pipe is seeking to counter Cyber Monday with an almost completely analog car. This BMW 535i is in fact a car that never was, but could it currently be priced to be a future star?

Mazda has always proven to be one of Japan’s scrappiest car builders. While other marques have faced accusations of having “lost their way” or to have “never been interesting in the first place,” Mazda has consistently endeavored to produce cars with both performance and personality.

One such charismatic car was represented by last Friday’s 2003.5 Mazdaspeed Protegé. Hell, it’s intent is even right there in the name “Mazda-speed.” Everybody likes a little speed now and then, especially Meth addicts! We all like the term for a different reason (remember, don’t do drugs, kids) and we liked that little turbo sedan too. In fact, we liked it well enough to give its $3,600 price a stupendous 90-percent Nice Price win. That’s one of the best outcomes we’ve ever had, and a fitting deal for Black Friday.

Today of course is Cyber Monday, which may sound like a cheap-ass ‘80s sci-fi movie title, but is in fact the day following Black Friday where we’re all supposed to shop online for holiday gifts and other useless crap.


We’re not sheeple and that’s why you’re here reading this rather than giving your credit card number to cyber-steals-dot-com for that Internet of Things combo deep fryer/foot de-scaler. Instead, we’re all looking at a car that’s for sale… um, well, online. Aww, crap!

This 1977 BMW 535i is offered up on the Austin, Texas Craigslist, however I don’t think you could actually buy it on that site. You’d need to actually contact the seller, perhaps even go and look at the car in person, drive it around a bit, and then wheel and deal around its asking price. You know, old school.


The car itself looks like it may be worth the trip, and is equally elderly educational edifice. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein car too, as it’s a Euro model that has made it here to the U.S., and has been put together in the creation of a version that was not officially made available anywhere in ‘77.

The E12 was the first in the iconic line of five-series, and it was also the first of that line to offer an official “M” edition, the M535i. That car didn’t arrive however, until 1979.


According to the ad, this car started its life as a Continent-dwelling 528i. It’s since been restored, and imbued with both a 3,453 cc M90 SOHC straight six and a Getrag close ratio five-speed with a dogleg linkage.

That engine should be good for somewhere around 215 horsepower and shouldn’t demand quite the maintenance schedule as the twitchier albeit more muscular M88. There’s no word on whether the diff has been upgraded to match the M90's output though.


Okay, so it’s a car that’s in many ways a homage to a later and rarer edition. That was also a car that was never sold here in the U.S.. The rest of this E12 totally looks the Euro part too. It rocks the tiny blade bumpers front and rear rather than the American edition’s picnic tables. The Topasbraun paint is uninterrupted by Federally required side markers—the front signals are tucked into the bumper—and all that Euro-ness looks to currently be in wonderful shape.

A twin pipe center exhaust adds a nice touch, as do the painted wing mirrors. In fact, the only seeming misstep here is the offset on those fat Rondells. That’s a personal thing, and admittedly, those are pretty rare wheels. A under-bumper oil cooler is another head scratcher, but isn’t too obtrusive, just watch those parking lot berms.


The inside is just as nice, with a dash that’s free of cracks, and reupholstered seating including some sweet Recaros up front. A wood-rimmed wheel offers tactile pleasures for your hands equal to that offered to your ass by those seats. Manual windows and sunroof belie the car’s era.

The ad includes an up skirt shot, and the car looks just as clean and tidy down there as well. The engine bay is another work of art with wiring properly routed and secured, and everything appearing clean as a bean.


In fact, seemingly everything—save the wheels—feels just right on this car. If you’re a stickler for matching numbers and maintaining model originality then this ain’t your car. But then, if those things matter to you, you’re probably not looking at E12 BMWs anyway.

For the rest of us however, this is one sweet looking unicorn, and the updates to the suspension and chassis may address the handling issues for which the E12 were known.

Mileage is claimed to be 61K (96,000 kilometers), and the car is said to come with a clean Texas title.


The asking price is a cool $18,000. That gets you a turn-key ride, but one that’s very obviously does not have broad market appeal. It will certainly resonate for that certain someone however, and that’s why we need to decide if it’s also appropriately priced.

What do you think, is this mix and match Euro “535i” worth that $18,000 asking? Or, is that just too much to make this Bimmer werke?


You decide!

Austin, TX Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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