Car of the Month - May 2007

Cars of the Month

The Car of the Month for May 2007 belongs to:
Robert Knowlton

I discovered this incredible car from a lead on the First Fives Board in Sept. '06. Somebody posted that they saw an ad in the Canadian Auto Trader for a low mileage e12 M535i (even posted the link I believe). It seem to pass relatively unnoticed other than maybe one follow up post to say that it might not be authentic, but it was worth checking out. I called promptly and spoke with the owner, Craig Jones, who gave me the low down. It is an incredible story, and most importantly, Craig had taken unbelievable care of the car. He bought it off the show room floor at a BMW dealer in Toronto in 1983. He was actually looking to buy a new e28 when he saw the car. The dealer had imported the car (unfortunately, this included Canada DOT changes, but only the side blinkers and retarding the timing for emissions, nothing elseno welded in reinforcements, no catalytic converter). The dealer had kept himself and put about 20Km on the car. It have never been titled, and thus when Craig bought it, he became the official first owner. He bought it for $40,000 CN ( 1983 dollars). He drove it regularly, but not more than about 2000 Km per year. It's always been garaged and is completely original other than the DOT mutilation of the fenders and rear quarter panels with the side blinkers (they really are difficult to look at). Craig kept it completely maintained by an independent BMW dealer (not much to be done other than oil changes). The only thing he has had to do other than routine maintenance is replace the muffler. This was done several years ago, and tells me that he could not get the original muffler from BMW, until he proved that he had a true e12 M535i. He did and it has a brand new OEM muffler. It runs incredibly well. It really is unbelievable that a car so old, with such old technology (including the freaking original Michelin rubber) can drive so well. The wheels on the car were BMW optioned (slightly wider than the standard BBS/Mahle basketweaves). The only negatives about the car (for me, at least) is that it does not have a sunroof, but rather was optioned AC and front door power windows. I would much rather trade the AC and power windows for the sunroof. But this is, of course, is trivial. What is not trivial are the side blinkers. What to do about them is something I'm still struggling with.
That's about it. I have to give Craig all the credit for the car. I paid a decent price, but it is an incredible specimen. I actually had to buy it without seeing it other than the pics and lots of questions answered. I also had fine consultative help from Adam Wilson. I had originally planned a trip to see the car in late September (Craig patiently waiting as other potential buyer were circling), but I had to cancel my trip at the last second, and reschedule a few weeks later. Toward the end he really couldn't wait any longer and he was about to entertain other potential buyers or put it on eBay. I just made the decision to go for it. I could not believe how thankful I was when I went to meet him at the Ferry from Victoria at US Customs. The car was even better than as billed. I was worried about US Customs, but they were completely cool. They just asked for a copy of the bill-of-sale, checked the build date (exactly 25 years old in October '06) and Canadian registration and charged me a 1% fee. They also loved the car and couldn't believe the condition it was in. I kept it in storage in Seattle until February of this year when I wore out my welcome for my friend's garage. I had it shipped and have finally gotten it registered in the US. I'm just waiting on the title from Alabama. It's supposed to be in the mail. I believe it when I see it.






© 2007, ™ (photo editing by T Hanson)