The ad for today’s Nice Price or No Dice 535i claims its good looks are owed to it being a well-cared-for survivor, not a restoration. Let’s see if this impeccably clean car can survive our vote at its not-insubstantial asking price.
Buying a car from a tow yard may imply a similar selflessness as rescuing a dog or cat from the pound. It’s not, however, as simple as that. The biggest difference is that the previous owners of the cars at the impound probably didn’t want to give them up or had simply misplaced them. In the case of the “Tow Yard Special” 2022 Ford Mustang we considered yesterday, the car came with a clean title and a clouded history. At an $18,500 asking, that spector was OK for a narrow majority of you who gave the Ford a 58 percent Nice Price win.
A similar acknowledgment should be offered to today’s 1988 BMW 535i as it has not only survived time’s slings and arrows but looks damn good despite having done so. The seller boasts that this is the result of the car being a survivor, not a “nut and bolt restoration.” Perhaps some of the thanks for the car’s present state can be found in its relatively low use—89,000 miles. The rest is likely owed to a careful curation of the car over its life. Considering how well it is kitted, it’s not all that surprising that it was well maintained.
This is a 535i, which was second only to the top banana 535is in the U.S. market, and a more practical alternative to the M5, which arrived in the States this same model year.
Under the hood lives a 3430 cc M30 SOHC straight six offering 189 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. No, those aren’t impressive numbers today, but when paired with the Getrag five-speed manual, as in this car, the modest output feels like it’s giving its all.
According to the ad, the car has recently enjoyed a full fluid refresh and rolls on new tires. The alloys shown on the car are Style 46s off of a later 3 Series; however, the spare shown in the boot is the original bottle cap. Either pair well with the Cirrus Blue Metallic paint and ’80s-moderate brightwork. The only obvious sign of age on the car is the failure of the trim around both the windscreen and rear window. That’s as common on these older Bimmers as is the sun rising in the East. The only other booger on the exterior is a dealer advertising badge—Rob Ray— befouling the boot lid.
The cabin has fared even better, with no obvious wear visible nor any significant fading of the plastics or carpets. The car is fitted with power windows, locks, and sunroof and even carries its original radio in the dash. Perhaps more amazingly, the tool kit under the boot lid has all the tools present and accounted for. The car comes with an accident-free history and a clean title. The asking price is $23,900.
That’s a lot of Bavarian brats and beer, but then again, how often will we come across a car as nicely optioned and in as good of shape as this? Could that make it worth such a princely sum? Or does that price put this survivor E28 in a class only a Museum could afford?
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