1975 BMW 520i LHD (E12)


  • Very well preserved chassis with seemingly no rust
  • Old full body respray in original Chamonix White
  • Blue Velour interior with some holes
  • Single previous owner vehicle from new

The Appeal

Produced between 1972 and 1981, these undeniably pretty executive saloons were the very first introduction to the German automaker's 5 series. It had a comfortable spot in their line-up between the entry-level 2002 (which would later become the 3 series in ‘75) and the larger E9 coupe and E3 saloon, which would respectively become known as the 6 series and 7 series.

Early examples of the E12 are becoming much more sought after, as few well maintained and original examples still exist - especially those fitted with the much rarer and more reliable mechanical fuel injection Kugelfischer PL 04. Even though this may not be a concours condition vehicle, it is an extremely solid foundation, and of original configuration with age-correct patina.

The History and Paperwork

  • Only one previous owner vehicle from 1975 - 2022
  • Manufactured in November 1975
  • 1 of 19,306 made
  • Resprayed in original Chamonix White, however not completed to the highest standard
  • Potential historic damage to right rear door
  • Original 2.0L 4 Cylinder engine with rare Kugelfischer PL04 injection pump
  • Matching engine and chassis numbers
  • No owners manual present
  • No service books present 

The Interior

  • Blue velour interior trim
  • Blue leather door panels
  • Good condition floor carpets
  • Wooden dashboard inserts
  • Centre dashboard clock (not an original item)
  • Seemingly all original and present interior with some minor damage

The interior of this E12 is finished in a lovely blue velour on all of the seats, along with a colour-matched leather on the door panels and the rear of the seats. Quite an eye-catching specification, and extremely period correct. Upon further inspection, the front driver side seat has some holes and tears in the velour on the lower cushion, as well as a tear on the left bolster on the upright portion. The passenger side front seat exhibits similar issues, however certainly not as bad. The vendor informs us that the leather covering the gear lever is non-original.

The dashboard exhibits no signs of any cracks or damage, and the steering wheel appears very much the same. Over to the centre console we can see the central analogue clock (which replaces the original Borletti item), between two of the air vents, and notice that some of the white markings are starting to fade - to be expected of a car this age. The gauges behind the steering wheel present well and still function as they should with the exception of the fuel gauge and odometer.

In the rear, the velour rear bench looks to be in better shape than the front seats, with seemingly only some loose threads on the passenger side - but it doesn’t look like there are any rips or tears. The central arm rest is present and functional, and finished in the same velour and leather trim.

The vendor informs us that no floor mats are present.

The Exterior 

  • Resprayed in original Chamonix White, which the vendor advises needs re-doing
  • Potential damage to the right rear door and under the C pillar 
  • No signs of any corrosion throughout
  • Alpina style wheels
  • Brightwork in relatively good condition

Early model 5 series BMW’s are undeniably pretty cars. The E12 is among the prettiest of the bunch. This particular example is finished in Chamonix White and sits on Alpina style alloy wheels. A closer inspection to the exterior reveals however that the car does need some TLC in terms of bodywork. At the front of the vehicle the lower portion of the front bumper exhibits heavy stone chipping, and the driver side under the headlights, where the bumper meets the wing, reveals some shoddy paint repair work. However, the headlights appear to be in good condition and the brightwork is surprisingly well maintained!

Around the side of the vehicle we get a better look at those Alpina style alloys the car wears oh-so-well. The vendor believes these to be original as E12 520i’s were sold in this configuration. The paintwork on the sides of the vehicles looks quite alright, there are some tell-tale signs of potential damage on the rear right door however that the seller reports - but is unconfirmed. The brightwork around the windows is present and the vents on the C-pillars are also still in place too. The vendor does advise that the black vent on the bonnet is damaged.

To the rear of the vehicle we start to see some more blemishes, more noticeable than most is the clips which hold the brightwork bumpers in place appear to be showing signs of degradation on the passenger side and some scuffs and scratches on the plastic trim. On the boot lid around the BMW emblem, small paint bubbles can be seen just to the right hand side and also some small paint chips are seen under the 520i badging.

Overall for a mid 70’s car, it’s not a bad example. It’s seemingly very straight and all of the bodywork seems wonderfully solid - this could be a fantastic starting point for a potential restoration considering the rare engine specification.

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The Mechanics 

  • Matching number engine
  • Original 2.0L 4-cylinder (130bhp)
  • Rare Kugelfischer PL04 mechanical injection 
  • 4-speed manual transmission
  • Larger brakes fitted at some point in the past
  • Potentially lowered - but unable to confirm
  • Drives fantastic with no unwelcome surprises
  • Extremely solid underside

Fitted with a longitudinally mounted 2.0L 4-cylinder (M10) engine and producing around 130bhp and 131lb/ft of torque, these 520i’s are actually surprisingly nippy cars to drive thanks to their low weight and short gear ratios. Weighing in at a mere 1250kg, these are, by today's standards, very lightweight saloons! Power is transferred through a Getrag 242 4-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels, encouraging an engaging driving experience like any RWD car, and enhanced greatly thanks to the independent suspension on all four corners of the vehicle. The vendor suggests that the 520i may also have been lowered in the past.

Even more confidence can be gained knowing that larger front brakes have been fitted to the vehicle, too! The vendor tells us that unusually, this example features the airbox fitted to the right of the engine.

Reported to drive wonderfully with no unwelcome clunks or bangs, and the gearbox feeling responsive and sporty, this E12 sounds like it’s poised and ready to hit the road with a new owner. 


Devilishly handsome E12 saloons can be quite difficult to find in such solid condition. Although this example isn’t as concours as some on the market, it certainly makes up for it with an astounding amount of potential. This would be a great base for a restoration project, or even for conversion into a track car. 

Nevertheless, this patinated and solid example would be more than happy to stay in original condition if the new custodian sees fit. A true all-rounder, if you will!

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1975
  • Make BMW
  • Model 520i (E12)
  • Colour White
  • Odometer 90,198 Kilometres
  • Engine size 2000
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Location International
  • Country Italy
Bidding history
7 bids from 3 bidders
  • crx.sup•••• €6,400 27/08/22
  • ghinghe•••• €6,300 26/08/22
  • crx.sup•••• €6,000 26/08/22
  • ghinghe•••• €5,900 25/08/22
  • crx.sup•••• €4,200 25/08/22
  • ghinghe•••• €3,900 23/08/22
  • Calinda €300 23/08/22

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