Car of the Month - May 2008

Cars of the Month

The Car of the Month for May belongs to:
James Heaney

  • Model: 528 double barrel carburettor

  • Date: 1975

  • Exterior Colour: Sienabraun-metallic

  • Interior: Beige

  • Bernadette

    The Overview
    Previous cars of the month were mostly eye candy; neat photographs of splendid examples of the E12. This month showcases a treasure of not just the car - but the devoted owner. You've been wowwed with pictures, now be wowwed with words. Hats off to James for sticking by Bernadette.

    James Writes:

    Bernadette James M Heaney

    Bernadette is a 1975 528 BMW first of the five series;
    528 E12 double barrel carbureted 2.8 ltr 6cly
    In those days it was wholly made at Stuttgart in Germany
    The E12 started life in SEPT 1972 as a 4 cylinder and replaced the 1500/200 series, known as the “new class of cars”. (Came to AUST in 1974)

    The E12 was designed by French stylist Paul Bracq who joined BMW after leaving Mercedes. It was directly and wholly aimed at the 280 Benz (“First of Fives”)

    The 528 with it’s more like a wedge shape body must have seemed refreshing and youthful against the boxy Benz at that time.

    I saw Bernadette somewhat back in the early 90s, in stunning metallic brown with matching chrome, and her alloy shoes sparkling at the European car showroom at Port Melbourne Australia in the early nineties. My partner at the time told me not to touch her as she’d be too expensive to run....I did the opposite and I bought her anyway...I was looking for an old Benz or something European.

    Had to be from the "old school " smell like leather, wood grain, classic shape, stately looks, and of course the bonnet open the reverse too – how sensible -conventional cars ... Bernadette filled the bill. With her long bonnet and short backside (like all good German sports car should be) I fell for her wedge shape so James and Bernadette were an item. My partner also loved her when I finally brought her home.

    Bernadette was my Sunday car, as I always had a run a round car, but also would drive her on week days to clients. We spent long weekend drives and picnics in the old girl she never missed a trick. And always had a presence when parked.

    She loves to eat the highways and feels at home traveling 140 KM but hates the cold until warm. She tolerates stop start traffic. She loves a bit of a drink with her 1 ton frame a tough old bird at the best and worst of times. Bernadette was always reliable and never let me down.

    In 2003 I came back from being overseas (OS) for six months.
    Bernie was being look after by family members she was not exercised.
    While driving merrily down the freeway with the music on and a bright sunny day, windows down. I heard a noise I look at the bonnet and saw steam coming from all directions I looked at the temp gauge to my shock the tempeture was on boiling. Bernadette coughed, spluttered and choaked, pulling over she died at 29 yo with the original motor and it still would have been going today.

    It was a sad day as the mechanic driver told me the worst “you’ve cooked the engine”. As I was traveling behind her I was watching her on the back of a truck in all of her classyness; she still looked beautiful even in death.

    Every body said well “it’s too expensive to get fixed and she’s old parts are hard” etc etc. The money I needed for her was a problem at the time as I just got back from OS. So she stayed at my friends for some months.

    Everybody told me the same things get rid of her.Even the mechanic told me it wasn’t worth it , "you’re wasting your money to completely redo the engine from the ground up" . . . So I did it anyway.

    I was happy to do it and never regretted it. Bernadette was always a reliable car in the past besides she is rare and no one has a car like her that alone was enough. WELL THEN the family said “What a good car,” the mechanic said “What a good car and a brilliant motor” and sung her praises. .. he became a fan . . . and everybody said the car would it will last another 29yos. Hmmm

    Somebody scratched her in Fitzroy, a trendy suburb of Melbourne, running a coin down all of her left hand panels it was 1 cm deep.. The only car in the street she was parked near hot sportier cars, Range Rovers, but they wanted to damage the old girl. I also had the ash tray pinched and never been able to get a replacement as it was upholstered with chrome around the edges not in the country.. Parts are getting harder.

    Bernadette is rarer each year. Often people would have a look at her and say nice old BM, or they don’t make em like that any more to that extent. The past BMs ,MERCs are the true German classics how I expect a European car should be (somewhat lost in recent years blending in this more of the same is best attitude) I have to agree I have no interest in the newer BMs and prefer other makes. It’s OLD BMs for me and the second one is going to be a 2 door a rare one again- besides Bernadette needs a partner!

    Bernadette is: Model 1975 528 double barrel carburettor
    Colour : Sienabraun-metallic
    Interior: beige
    Made: Germany
    Exported: South Africa then Australia
    Re_ built engine after cooking motor 15000kms
    Mechanically sound
    Only minor cosmetic details needs addressing

    Pin stripping
    Raised bonnet
    Power aerial
    Power steering
    Air con
    Alloy wheels

    John Savage
    © 2008, ™