*Vendor supplied photos*
- One of only 3252 made
- Rare South African made ‘Deluxe’ special edition
- Only 93,630Km / 58,179 miles miles from new
- Owned by one family from new
Due to South Africa’s massive import tax on cars at the time, in the 70s and 80s BMW sent cars to the country as CKDs (Complete Knock Down), ready for assembly on site. This resulted in a number of special edition cars being built there, including the ‘Deluxe’ 518, which was enhanced with a 520/4 M10 drivetrain and interior.
This example has been lovingly cared for by a single family since new, and it really shows. Presented in very original condition with a cracking colour scheme and genuinely low mileage, it’s a unique opportunity to acquire a very rare and very special retro BMW.
The History and Paperwork
- Rare ‘Deluxe’ special edition
- Model code 3659
- Built in South Africa for the Euro market
- Registered in Italy in 1980
- Owned by one family from new
- Completely original
- One of only 3,252 built
- 520/4 specification interior
- Farngrün #0070 velour / vinyl upholstery
- Period Pioneer stereo system
One of the upgrades the ‘Deluxe’ received was a 520/4 specification interior. So this included the Farngrün interior you see here, complete with rear headrests and map pockets on the back of the front seats.
For a 42-year-old vehicle, the upholstery is in very good, original condition. The vinyl of the door cards is excellent, with no significant wear or damage to report, and the same can be said for the complementary carpets (apart from the driver's one) and aftermarket over-mats. Much the same can be said of the headlining, which is intact, very clean and straight and showing no signs of sagging.
The velour of the seats is fabulous – a proper late-70s / early 80s throwback and all the better for it. In terms of the condition, the rear bench and head rests are in excellent condition for the age, with no significant wear or damage. The passenger seat has slightly more wear, with some small rips on the inner bolster, but otherwise is in good condition, the seat belt on this side is not working (the vendor will include another set but in dark grey) and the vinyl on the C pillar is crumpled. The pocket on right door is only glued.
The driver’s seat displays a little more wear, as you may expect, both to the squab and most especially to the outer bolster. It’s nothing that couldn’t be sorted by a decent upholstery service, however.
The dashboard is in exceptional condition, with no evidence we could see of UV damage, warping or cracking. It almost looks factory-fresh! All of the controls, switchgear and instruments show little wear, further confirming just how well cared-for this car has been, and how little it’s been used.
At the rear, the boot area is very clean and tidy, with a grey carpet underneath which is a full size spare alloy wheel which is in an excellent state. As far as we could see, the floor itself and the wheel-well are in superb condition, straight and tidy with no evidence of corrosion or damage repair. The original toolkit is also present and complete.
- Metallic #075 Reseda Green paintwork
- Resprayed a number of years ago
- Classic ‘shark nose’ styling
- New Michelin tyres
Presented in its original Metallic Reseda Green colour scheme (although the vendor tells us that the car has been resprayed at some point in the past), this delightful retro saloon really does look every inch the 80s executive car. The E12 has great proportions, and the ‘shark nose’ styling still looks fantastic, even after 42 years.
Looking at the paintwork itself, it’s largely in good condition. The panels of the bodywork itself appear corrosion and dent free. There are a few minor dings and scratches (a tiny chip above the fuel cap, a small ding on the NS rear passenger door and a scratch on the NSR above the brake light), but these really are minor and would not give us pause.
All of the external trim and brightwork is in fine condition, with nothing missing. The glass and light lenses, including the front fog lights, are in good condition and appear to have no chips or cracks.
The wheels are the factory-fit multi-spoke 14” items, shod in new Michelin rubber. They present well, with some light blemishes, but certainly nothing like what you’d expect from a car of this age.
Overall, we think the car presents very well externally, being highly original and very clean.
- 2-litre 4-cylinder M10 engine
- Manual transmission
- Fully independent suspension
- Just 93,630Km / 58,179 miles
With rear-wheel-drive, a potent 2-litre naturally-aspirated engine and manual transmission, this 5-series ticks all the right boxes. Having covered so few miles, it’s perhaps no surprise that the engine bay looks as clean as it does – it really is incredibly tidy, with no evidence we could see of corrosion or leaks.
Making sure the car handles as well as it looks and goes, the E12 was fitted with fully independent suspension. With coils and dampers at each corner, MacPherson struts at the front and semi-trailing arms at the rear, the E12 was great to drive when it launched and remains an engaging machine to this day.
This one-family owned car has clearly been very well maintained, and the vendor tells us that it runs and drives “perfectly” and needs absolutely nothing mechanically.
Renowned for their performance and handling prowess, BMWs of this era are highly collectible. It’s easy to see why, they’re very pretty and well-proportioned cars that drive better than almost any other saloon cars from the same time period.
This particular machine has been kept beautifully, in very original condition. With such low miles and a rare, desirable specification, it really is something of a unicorn. Whether you’re a BMW collector or simply love unusual, fun and exceptional retro cars, this is sure to bring you many years of joy and delight…
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