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Car of the Month - January 2010



Cars of the Month
The Car of the Month for January belongs to:
John Savage



  • Model Year: 1980 E12 528i

  • Build Date: Dec 1979

  • Transmission: Manual 5 Speed

  • Bilstein HD shocks & struts

  • Mason Engineering strut bars

  • Wheels: 15 inch after-market, 215/60-15 tires

  • Exterior Color: Alpine White

  • Interior Color: Beige



  • An "Olde School" Bimmer

    John Writes:

    This Car's History:
    The original owner had this BMW E12 for a couple years in the San Francisco area before he sold it to Steve Gordon. Steve took extraordinary care of the 528i; garaged all the time and well maintained for the next 19 years. It came with sheepskins on the front seats. There was a leather bra on the front. He replaced whatever needed replacing. The car was sold in 2004 to Eric Quon. Eric later sold it to me in Dec 2006.

    So why did I get this car?

    This Writer's History:
    Way back in 1985, we bought a 1979 528i from an M.D. friend (my wife is a nurse). Swartz, red leather, 4-speed. Although it was driven a lot, it was also fairly well maintained. At the time, I was hesitant about getting a BMW; parts and service were costly and although I had experience in working on other cars, I didn't know anything about BMWs. (Oxygen sensor? Bosch L-Jetronic?) Dependability was an unknown, this seemed to be a risky purchase.

    That E12 was the most dependable car I've ever had. By the time we retired her, she had over 460,000 miles! I've had cars that got better fuel mileage, but this car was the most economical regarding overall cost-of-ownership.

    Since then we've had other 528i's. My wife got a Black 1980 with an automatic which was very comfortable and a dream to drive (we later sold it), and I had a white 1981 5-speed; this one met a nonsensical death and wound up in a wrecking yard. Fortunately for me, most of my experience as been fairly trouble-free and the cars didn't need much fixing. It's the combination of good engineering, and proper maintenance.





    Refurbished the left & right grills.
    The headlights are converted to the brighter H4 bulbs.
    Duo-Kidney center grill was mail ordered from Bavarian Auto.




    Fifteen inch Wheels were bought from a fellow member of the First Fives Registry.
    I presumed they were used, but mistaken: Brand New in unopened boxes.
    A sweet deal in exchange for three Benjamin Franklin trading cards.




    Gutters are clean, no rust.




    Replaced the Roundels soon after I purchased the car




    Easiest way to identify the E12 from an E28 are these cabin vents




    PROBLEMS when I first got the car --
  • Failed SMOG testing, high HCs, CO and NOx
  • Engine only Revved to 3500 RPM then hit ignition cut-off
  • Cold idle was very low, would stall often until it warmed up
  • Rear differential would GROWEL loudly after 30 minutes of driving
  • Hazard Switch would occationally pop-out, draining my battery.

  • REMEDIES:
  • Bruce Barthel adjusted the AFM, I did the valve adj, new silver plugs and wires, cap & rotor & timing; PASSES SMOG.
  • Replaced Ignition Control Module, engine revves well over 6000 rpm now.
  • Adjusted Air Bypass Valve; cold idle is higher and doesn't stall any more.
  • Drained the differential oil and refilled with Valvoline 90 Wt hypoid gear oil. Silence is golden.
  • Performed a hazard switch repair; No problemo any more.




  • The engine bay was very dusty and dirty.
    An hour with a scrubbing sponge with soapy water and nitrile gloves,-- she cleans up really well.
    Added the Mason Engineering strut bar (front & rear) and the M30-B35 AFM cover as dressing.




    Signl lenses are clean, antenna is manuel; roll down the window and pull.
    Stock side view mirrors were replaced with the E28 version.




    Interior is excellent. The front seats could use some re-padding. Steering wheel from an earlier 530i is shown




    Five-speed stick. (Although I don't mind driving the automatic)
    Shifter bushings seem new and tight




    No cracks in the dash, Not even a little one.
    THE SECRET? -- Always use a cover like a Sun Shade or DashMat
    Air conditioning is excellent - Got a rebuilt unit from Auto Parts Exchange in Fort Worth, Texas.
    Frigiking of Simi Valley fabricated new hoses, installed the rebuilt unit and charged it with R12.




    Impressive, huh?
    The cluster was replaced, car actually has about 270K miles.




    Again, the interior is very nice.
    I rebuilt the glove box hinge, some nuts and screws were missing. It works like new again.




    Power windows and sun roof all work




    Trim is clean, almost like new




    Rear Seats along with the fronts are kept soft and rejuvinated.




    Original tools are all there.




    Front License plate is nested behind the bumper.




    Home, sweet home.
    We moved here when I was seven years old.




    Another "Olde School" look.




    Oak trees are indigenous to the area. The Chumash Indians made meals from the acorns.




    This car gets waxed often; usually two coats.




    Woolsey Canyon Road; to and from work :-)




    A new day in this Cool car.




    LINKS
  • Mason Engineering
  • Barthel Moteren Werke
  • Auto Parts Exchange
  • Bavarian Automotive



  • John Savage
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