Estimated Time to Awesome: 1987 BMW 528e

This next car comes from tipper Jake who writes: You absolutely can’t go wrong here.  Amen, brother…Amen. This is not the preferred 535i “injection” version and is instead the 528e version…e is short for ETA, and is not, contrary to popular belief, named after the Basque separatist group, but is instead named ETA for the Greek letter η….which in enginerd parlance is used for efficiency. The 528e engine was tuned for fuel economy over power, and should be acceptable when paired to the 5-speed manual gearbox.  Find this 1987 BMW 528e offered for $4,500 in Smithfield, VA via craigslist.

From the seller:

1987 BMW

VIN: WBADK7302H9652977

condition: excellent

cylinders: 6 cylinders

drive: rwd

fuel: gas

odometer: 212000

paint color: black

size: full-size

title status: clean

transmission: manual

type: sedan

For sale is my 1987 BMW 528e. I am the 5th owner of the car and have had it since May of 2019. I have used it as a daily driver since then and put more than 6k miles on it with no major problems whatsoever. The second owner was interviewed about maintenance by the original owner before they were allowed to purchase it.

This car has a current VA safety inspection and regular plates.

The car is super fun to drive and row through the gears on. It’s a driving experience you just can’t get with modern vehicles. The transmission shifts smoothly and effortlessly and the clutch feels great. The engine starts right up in any weather and makes great low-end torque. The upgraded differential helps put the the power down. AC and heat both work well.

The original paint is in excellent shape for the age and mileage. There are no faded spots or areas rubbed through. It presents really well. There are some minor chips and dings, but much less than you would expect.

Interior is very comfortable and with E34 power seats and near mint E28 rear seats. The radio has blue tooth connection for calls and audio. There is a self-powered 10″ Kenwood sub woofer mounted in the trunk. Audio system sounds great. All power windows and roof work. The warning system and on-board computer both work as well. Headliner is in beautiful with no sags or tears.

I have a huge folder full of receipts dating back to the original owner for maintenance and repair. There is no evidence of a crash or body damage in this vehicle’s history.

All the recorded maintenance of the car since last 2 owners:

177k 2013

Cleaned and flow tested injectors

New Bosch high pressure fuel pump

New fuel filter

New lift pump in tank

Contitech timing belt kit

GMB water pump

adjust valves

valve cover gasket

cleaned and flow tested fuel injectors, new o-rings

new fan clutch

checked cap and rotor – relatively new

new radiator hoses

new thermostat at 185k

swapped in low mile heater blower from donor car, re-oiled bearings w/ turbine oil

replace front pads and rotors, bleed/flush entire brake system, clutch

E38 BBS wheels 16” x 8” wide

checked control arms – upper are new lemforder brand

replace lower control arms with FEBI/Bilstein brand

replace transmission fluid with dex/merc red (recommended fill)

replace driveshaft with rebuilt unit from Wholesale Import Parts

replace guibo and center support bearing w/ FEBI/Bilstein

replace transmission mounts

rebuild shifter linkage

install new shift selector seal in transmission

swap 2.93 open differential with S3.25 limited slip from 535is (diff had approx 140k miles at install)

install racingpros performance ecu chip for M20B27

K&N filter

new catback/muffler – Eberspaecher brand with new gasket and stainless hardware

stainless exhaust tip

new trunk seal – URO parts

re-seal tail light gaskets

Clutch pedal bracket brace

tint windows

repair power antenna – install bypass switch to lower while radio is on

Re-upholster door cards and deck lid with orange houndstooth

E34 black leather power front seats

E28 black leather rear seats

dye headliner black

replace clutch master with Febi/Bilstein unit

replace passenger rear wheel bearing (wasn’t bad, mis-diagnosed axle noise)

replace passenger cv axle

steering box adjusted @192k

all steering linkage replaced @192k – Febi/Bilstein tie rods/center link, Lemforder idler arm

set front alignment with slight toe-in, tracks straight w/ no steering play @192k

196k – 4 new 225/50/16 BF Goodrich Gforce Comp2 tires mounted and balanced on E38 wheels

New clutch pedal over-center (helper) spring

Alignment set by TNT in Sandston, VA

205k Aug. 2017:

New antenna mast

New front rotors/pads

Install rebuilt front brake calipers

Flush/bleed front brake fluid

Flush/bleed clutch fluid

New starter motor

New OEM turn signal switch on steering column

Install lower mileage E24 axles (disassembled, cleaned, and CRC CV joint grease applied)

New distributor cap and rotor

New Platinum AGM battery

Odometer is correct and I replaced the gear when I bought it

206k May 2019

I become the new owner, have owned it since.

210k Aug 2019

Oil change 20W-50 Bosch ST3421 oil filter

211k Aug 2019

Left front brake rotor replaced.

I also have a few boxes of spare parts that I will include with the sale if the new owner wants them as well as a Thule rack and 4 original wheels.


Purchased them a couple weeks ago.

This car is a driver, not an immaculate show car. This car is 32 years old. It has been amazingly reliable and trouble free and I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it anywhere. That said there are some minor blemishes and issues that I want to be absolutely clear it’s not a car recovered from a time capsule:

-There is a split in the driver’s seat. Easy fix – not a big deal for an upholstery shop.

-There is a rust spot on the front cowl. This is a common aesthetic blemish on these cars and will not leak into the interior. That cowl covers the wiper linkage.

-The power antenna unit in the trunk no longer works. Replacements are easy to find

-Minor rust on driver side front jacking point. I jack the car up on the frame rail forward of where the rust spot is.

I do not want to sell this car, I have greatly enjoyed owning it, but the time has come to downsize my fleet. I hope whoever ends up with it next with drive it and enjoy it thoroughly. My original goal was to take this car to 300k miles and I’m sure it will make it there and whoever gets it there will have a great time

I reserve the right to remove the listing if the car is sold. It is listed for sale on other sites.

See a better way to drive an eta?