For $3,500, Could This 1985 BMW 528 Still Bring It?

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

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe E28 says it’s a 528, but he leaves off the “e” part of the name. There’s a fifty-horsepower difference between the “e” and the “i” which could affect your opinion as to whether this one’s worth writing an IOU.

Sporting Hondas are like the obnoxious children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: they keep dropping, one after the other. The latest to go is the Accord Coupe. That was preceded into the grave—which is where I always like to imagine Wonka sent those snotty kids—by the Prelude, Beat, and the subject of yesterday’s attention, the S2000. That leaves only the Civic Si here in America to wave the flag for fun, but given the company’s history, I wouldn’t advise them buying any Everlasting Gobstoppers.


Of course, the kids that had a bad go of it at the hands of weirdo confectioner Willy Wonka all did return home safe and sound, albeit perhaps a little more self aware. The cars, like that 2007 Honda S2000 simply remain. That’s good since we like having fun cars around almost as much as we like seeing spoiled brats get their comeuppance.

That doesn’t mean however that we liked the $16K price on yesterday’s survivor, no not one bit. Well okay, a little bit. Still, that bit wasn’t enough and it fell in a 65 percent Crack Pipe loss.

You can generally sort car makers into two categories: those who get the idea of what makes a car fun, and those that hire marketing companies to try and make you believe that they do. BMW has long been one of the former, however just for good measure they enlisted an agency to come up with the mantra that exemplifies that ideology, denoting each of their products as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

That slogan, originally created by the small ad house, Ammirati & Puris, is now over forty years strong, but it’s an open question as to whether BMW’s products have always since been able to live up to so grandiose a promise.


Let’s look at this 1985 BMW 528 for example, and decide just how ultimate it seems, especially at its current price.


The E28 was introduced for the 1981 model year and was the second iteration of BMW’s 5-series. The mid-sizer could be either a hottie or a nottie depending on the engine that was fitted behind its shark nosed double kidney grille. Those mills ranged from 1.8-litre fours for taxi drivers in Dusseldorf, to 3.5-litre silk sheet sixes for high rollers with a penchant for driving gloves and aviators.


Right in the middle were the small six equipped cars, and those fell on two sides of the performance spectrum. The 528e came equipped with a 2.7-litre M20 six tuned for 127 horsepower and 177 lb ft of torque. This was BMW’s attempt at a model for America’s driving habits which preferred grunt off the line over high speed heroics. The 528i on the other hand came armed with an M30 rocking 182 horses and a similar quantity of twist.

This one is an “eta” since if you wanted a 5 with some more balls in the U.S. back then you had to go up a rung to the 533i or later 535i. That doesn’t mean this classic can’t be a lot of fun to drive, and adding to that will be the Getrag 260 five-speed that backs up the smallish six.


That lives in an interior that’s remarkably intact for its age and which proves that at one time BMW did some of the best interiors out there. Today? Not so much.


The exterior is a little rougher, with a front bumper that rocks an Elvis sneer in its rubber snood. That aluminum battering ram, along with its companion in back, have been given body color paint which looks okay I guess, at least maybe with the rubber on both ends tidied up.


The rest of the body seems solid, and the chunky five spoke wheels, while appearing out of place with the rest of the car’s styling, are at the very least factory jobs.


The ad notes reasonably low mileage—128,000 miles—and a clean title. The car is described as “good,” as well as to “run and drive great” and additionally… well, that’s about it. Yes there’s some wonkiness in the fit of stuff up front, and the 535-ish front valance is scraped and missing its fogs, but over all it’s not that bad.

The question however, is whether it’s not bad enough to command $3,500. That’s what you’ll have to decide. What do you think, is this old 5 worth that $3,500? Or, is this an “eta” that leaves you hungry for more?


You decide!


Charlotte, NC Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Jason for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.