Car of the Month - May 2011

Cars of the Month

The Car of the Month for May belongs to:
Blaise Descollonges

  • Model: 1980 528i

  • Color: Arctic Blue

  • Interior: Beige

  • Manual transmission; 5 speed

  • Milage: 301,333

  • Blaise writes:

    My BMW E12 adventure started when a great friend and vintage BMW aficionado sent me a craigslist add for a little 1977 sierra beige 530i. I did a little homework and discovered that it did not run and was an automatic. But, my friend assured me that the automatic could be converted to a 5 speed in a weekend (that proved not to be the case, for me), and that we likely could get the car running in no time (he was right about that). We went to see it and I just could not resist the car. It was in worn but stock condition with all of the original dealer documentation. Best of all, it looked like a rust free car. So, I made the deal and we immediately set off to get the car running. Within a half an hour, we got it started and off we went.

    While I enjoyed the car, I could tell that the 3 speed automatic had no business behind a 6 cylinder M30 motor. That had to change. I started making a list of the parts needed for the conversion and asking around. It soon became apparent that I would need lots of little odds and ends. To this day, I do not think that there is a comprehensive list on the web of what is actually needed. As I am not in the process of doing the conversion, I am finding more parts that I had not anticipated. When I added up the cost of all of this and soon realized that I would be better off finding the right donor car.

    In came my blue 1980 528i. The previous owner had a hard time letting it go, as he had aspirations of restoring it. I made a list of all the parts that I would be getting from that car and it became obvious that it was well worth buying.

    I bought it and drove it for a few months. It was great fun to finally be in an E12 with a manual gear box. The car burned oil, had a jerky low rpm temperament and had a driveline clicking.

    Finally, I put it up on jack stands and started taking it apart. I spent more time than you can imagine coordinating with other E12 members to get them the parts that they needed. For those of you entertaining the idea of parting a car out and making money, let me just say that it is not worth it. Lots of coordination and packaging, with pennies in return and lots of time gone. But, it supports other owners trying to restore an E12.

    Now the blue car is gone and was scrapped for metal. I ended up getting more parts for my car than I could ever have imagined. It was well worth it.

    Lastly, in going through the blue car, I was able to confirm that it was not a viable restoration candidate. It had too much rust and had been crashed (front dent frame damage). But that car will have largely contributed to what my sierra beige car will soon be (more on that soon).

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