BMW's press pack maintained that the BMW E12 M535i set a new standard in understatement and that it offered the restrained dignity of a Savile Row suit.
What Car? magazine called it the ultimate boy-racer's car and about as retrained and dignified as a gold lace stage costume. At £13,745 new in 1981, it must have been intended for a rich boy racer! Developed by BMW's Motorsport subsidiary, this exclusive 140mph model combined performance, comfort and tractability in traffic, offering pure excitement. Its 3,453cc twin-cam power unit developed 218bhp at 5,200rpm and a sizeable 228lb ft of torque, 60mph coming up in 7.1 seconds and 100mph in 19.8 seconds. BMW's first M-pack offering, just 200 RHD examples were allocated in 1981.
In 1985 the E28 M535i arrived, offering 218bhp and an even more outrageous bodykit. There were some suspension tweaks over the 'normal' 535i, and a hefty price premium. The E28 has gone through the hooligan's banger stage and the few that have survived are now highly prized.