Car of the Month - May 2009

Cars of the Month

The Car of the Month for May belongs to:
Gordon Parr

  • Model: E12 Euro 528i

  • MFG Date: July 1, 1981

  • Automatic transmission

  • Exterior Color: Kaschmir Metallic

  • Cloth Interior

  • Manual windows

  • Manual sunroof

  • No air conditioning

  • Gordon Writes:

    I bought this car in Nov 2008 from a long time E12 enthusiast, Frank Haas. I recently returned from working four months in Stuttgart Germany in 2008 and attended the German E12/28 "treffen" (meet) in Bavaria in Sep 08. This meet renewed my enthusiasm to own a Euro spec E12. I had been in contact with Frank for some time about his E12 that he had for sale. Frank emailed me some pics of his 528i and that's when I made him an offer which he accepted. I flew from L.A. to Portland, bought it, and drove it home to CA with no problems. Frank told me that the previous owner had the car in CA before he moved out of state, the seller died and the son sold the car to Frank. If you know Frank, he has numerous E12's and other high perforamce BMW's to choose from so this one was rarely driven.

    I took the WA state title to the DMV to register it in CA, they told me since it was a "non-USA" car, I had to take the car to the smog referee for a smog check before I could start the DMV paperwork. 2002 Haus in San Luis Obispo went through the car, a new cat, O2 sensor, etc.. was installed and the car was ready for smog. The smog referee pulled up the car in his data base which showed my car was previously registered in CA in the 80's and 90's before it went out of state. The smog referee said my car was considered "grandfathered" since it had originally been in CA in the 80's. If not, I would have to produce a copy of the EPA certification which I did not have since the car was 28 years old. The smog referee spent 30 minutes going through the car with a fine tooth comb before the smog test itself. It passed with no problem and the referee issued the car a CA Air Resources Board (CARB) sticker for the door frame and a smog certificate. I took the paperwork to the DMV office in SLO where they said since my car is a "non-USA" car, the title, tags and registration have to come from DMV HQ's in Sacramento. A month later I received a letter from the DMV telling me since my car is a "non-USA direct import vehicle", I have to take the car to an independent lab for a "certificate of conformance" smog test before my registration will be issued. All cars that are not registered in CA fall off the DMV registry after a period of 6-10 years (depending on who you talk to). My 528i fell off the registry and DMV had no prior record of my car being in CA. BTW, the lab fee for my car to be tested to obtain a "certificate of conformance" is about $3K and there is no guarantee that it will pass. I contacted the smog referee's and told them of my plight and they went to bat for me. They contacted the DMV and told them that my car was in CA in the 80's, it's in there data base, my car has passed smog and I'm good to go. About six weeks later, my plates, registration, and title show up in the mail. I need to find out what smog referee's favorite beverage is, I owe them big time...

    Since I've owned the car, I've put on E34 15" style 5 wheels with new H rated 205/60-15 tires. They look so much better than the stock steel wheels. I've installed the sunroof deflector which makes the interior much quieter when the sunroof is open. I replaced the sealed beam headlights with Hella H1/H4's.

    This 528i is a time warp. It still had the original 14" steel wheels along with the original V rated 195/70-14 tire is still in the trunk. The speedometer shows 135K and we believe this to be original miles (speedo mileage has to be converted from KM to miles as part of the DOT conversion). This car still has the original OEM Blaupunkt AM/FM cassette deck. Nothing has been done to the car since the original DOT certification (still had the original sealed beam headlights that the DOT mandated for DOT certification).

    I emailed the VIN to Mobile Tradition and the reply back was that car was manufactured on July 1 1981. Looking at the
    REALOEM.COM database, it shows that the Euro E12 production ran through June 1981. If so, this makes this car one of the last E12's built.

    The 528i is going into the shop for an automatic to 5 speed conversion within the next week at 2002 Haus. The automatic has got to go. I know that the 528i will be transformed into a car that will be a blast to drive with a 5 speed. The 528i came without a passenger side mirror, that's typical of Euro spec cars in that era. As you can see by the pics, we added one to the passenger side that came from Rob's parts bin. I've also scored some new old stock fabric for the drivers seat which is worn. I have no future plans for this car other than a 5 speed conversion and an upgraded stereo (CD player). Down the road, if I get the car repainted (I'll keep the original color), the DOT mandated side marker lights will come off.

    This is the second Euro spec sedan that I have purchased, my first is a 70 E3 2800 that is smog exempt here in CA (75 and earlier are smog exempt). In FEB 09, I purchased a 85 E28 Euro spec 525e 5 speed that has been in CA since EPA/DOT certification in 85 and I had no problems registering the E28. Bottom line, if you live in CA and are thinking of purchasing a Euro spec E12 from out of state, do your homework unless you have deep pockets to pay for a certificate of conformance, AMHIK!



    John Savage
    © 2009, ™