The foundational car of modern BMWs was 1962’s Neue Klasse - which also gave birth to the 1602/2002. Redesigning that aging car was a daunting task, but its replacement, the #e12 5-series, was a gem. Like the Neue Klasse, it was also a car of firsts. The e12 was the first #5series and the first car to debut BMW’s now-familiar naming model names. Launched in 1972 with a pair of 2-liter fours (the carb’d 520 and injected 520i), it was the first new car to come out of the #BMW Dingolfing plant, formerly the site of the Glas/Goggomobil production. It might seem unusual that the 5-series was launched with only four-cylinder engines, but remember that the Neue Klasse had used only fours, and in 1970-71 when the e12 design was being finalized, sixes were the province of the larger e3 sedans. But over time, the 520/520i range was quickly expanded both upward and downward - with the M30B25 Six joining the line in 1973 as the 525, and the M118 four arriving for 1974 as the economy model 518. With the 2002 being replaced by the e21 3-series in 1976, the e12 had room to grow upward - and in time a gaggle of six-cylinder engines were offered from the relatively humble 525 with a pair of Zenith carbs and 143hp to the 3.5L M90-powered #M535i (precursor to the M5) with 210 injected hp. For that reason, and the fact that only six-cylinder versions were sold in the U.S., the e12 is primarily remembered as a six-cylinder car. Paul Bracq’s sharp styling was a study in contrast to the e12’s main competitor, the conservative Mercedes W114, which Bracq had also styled in his earlier tenure at Mercedes (he was BMW’s chief designer from 1970-74). Sleek, modern, and distinctly BMW with it’s shark nose and subtle Hofmeister kink on the C-pillar, the basic lines would translate through it’s 1981 replacement, the e28, which has to some extent overshadowed the e12 (as the e30 has overshadowed the e21). In the U.S., the e12 didn’t hit showrooms until the 1975 model year, and it was sold only as the 176-hp 530i until the lower-power, lower compression 528i, aimed at MPG and emissions issues, replaced it for 1979-80.
#BMWe12 #BMW530i #BMW5series #5series #BMWClassic #youngtimer #1978 #70s