Jump to content

1985 BMW E28 520i - Going to be for sale for sure (I think)

Recommended Posts

Placeholder topic for now. Currently in @Steve79 mums garage but hopefully transported sometime this month. Mostly down to when @worldofceri passes by next. No rush as I have plenty of other projects on the go, just with Spring coming up quick, I'm looking forward to buzzing around in this. So don't expect anything too exciting to happen for a few weeks yet.

I was hoping the Dolomite would be drivable by now but that's not looking likely. So I'll have to either do the work on this on the drive, cart the Dolomite down to storage over spring/summer or send this off to a professional for it to be sorted. It'll need an MOT anyway, but I'd like to get some of the key things sorted before then.

Main issues for the MOT:

  • Dash clocks don't work. Battery has leaked in the original board and damaged the traces. Have another set of dash clocks here and I hope to make a good one out of the two. Something I'll definitely have to do as most mechanics won't want to touch soldering up PCBs.
  • Brake pedal doesn't fully go to the top of its travel, unless you assist it by pulling it up. I believe the Rev mentioned corrosion at the top of the pedal or something that just needs cleaning odd.
  • Cambelt. This one scares me everytime the engine is started. Label under the bonnet says last changed in 1998 and that's almost certainly true. Steve has done a few hundred miles on it two years ago, but I don't have the guts or will to do a cambelt roulette myself on it. Plus I don't believe they're that difficult to change.
  • Possibly needs some welding on the NSF. I'll clean the area up and if it's small I may do it myself. Alternatively let my local garage pickup on it at MOT time and let them sort it if it's a problem.

So hopefully a quick project to get back on the road. That's the intention anyway as I don't have time for too much more, given the Dolomite is taking my time up and the others need fettling too (1100 front calipers and also selling it, MGB service). Likely scenario is getting the above list done so I can drive it to the MOT station and let them sort anything else out needed for that if anything other comes up.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Current shopping list:

  • Cambelt + tensioner (127 or 128 tooth?)
  • Aux belt
  • Water pump
  • Dizzy cap + rotor
  • Ignition leads
  • Sparking plugs
  • Oil filter + oil
  • Coolant
  • Thermostat
  • Viscous fan tool?
  • Coolant drain plug
  • Sump drain plug
  • Heater valve
  • Radio surround

Most of that probably can from autodoc as it's the cheapest place and I'm not worried about delivery speed right now.

Only question mark is if I need a 127 or 128 tooth cambelt. Searching online isn't clear on when there was a change over and to what.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, dome said:

I had a manual 535 SE from this era and it cemented my love for old BMWs. Looking forward to seeing to this one back on the road

I would love one of them but they're big bucks now. Likewise anything E30.

This one is not only affordable but a manual gearbox 6 cylinder. So hopefully has the key parts for making the magic recipe to the golden age of BMW vehicles. 

Strangely the E28 doesn't quite have the value of the E30. They're a larger car but not that much larger in the grand scheme of things. 

Never driven a BMW before (well had a hire car Bini once but they're modern FWD BMW), so not sure what to expect yet. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a white 520i DNO844X (?) in 1998 kept it for about 6 months. Had moon miles on it and wouldn't go into 5th, accelerator pedal was just a rod sticking through the carpet.

Loved it, but MoT looming and a house purchase on the cards I flogged it in Loot for Spears or Reapers.

Shortly after I got a phone call from the old bill asking why I'd just driven away from a petrol station without paying.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooft! Love these, looking forward to updates.

Good luck with the thieves and liars at Autodoc. Personally I would go anywhere else in preference, but your choice.

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Crispian_J_Hotson said:

If it's got standard suspension then it's a unique ride. I think the E30 is added scene tax and they are an easier car to live with. These early, big models spook people out.

Just checked the dimensions and these are quite long cars. Only 10 cm shorter than our 2010 A4. A lot narrower though. But then it's a lot wider than my pre-80s cars. Actually a fair bit wider than the Clio II I have (admittedly that is a small modern car)

Hopefully not being squashed in will make this feel a bit more modern classic. This is good as I might get a bit more acceptance with Mrs SiC on this than travelling in my other cars!

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Skizzer said:

Ooft! Love these, looking forward to updates.

Good luck with the thieves and liars at Autodoc. Personally I would go anywhere else in preference, but your choice.

Usually I don't have the patience for them. Last time, pre-Brexit, they took a good 2 weeks for delivery. However they have a lot of parts for the BMW and are a very good price too. I find it as the usual German company customer service - happy to take your money but after sales support and experience is something that they're still very slowly learning. Hopefully everything I need from them should be pretty much bread and butter parts. 

If someone knows of a good UK classic BMW part retailer, I'm all ears though. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, SiC said:

If someone knows of a good UK classic BMW part retailer, I'm all ears though. 

BMW Supply is worth a look: https://bmwsupply.co.uk/part/groups?series=e28&typ=4051&view=ogindex

Not cheap, admittedly, but better than buying two or three times from Autodoc and having them attempt credit card fraud as they did with me.


Link to post
Share on other sites

The brake pedal not returning is likely a partially seized linkage, it runs across the bulkhead under the bonnet and through a series of pivots etc. Lube them up and work it a few times and it should free it off. 

Cambelt is easy but obvs don't let it break, loads of valves to bend, and they will, I know, and getting the head off is just physically hard work.

The viscous fan coupling can be knocked off with an adjustable and a few sharp taps with a hammer.

ETA, I've also got a distant memory of something that partially fouls the brake linkage, maybe a bundle of cables under the dash or bonnet.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am fully moist for this, is it Bronzitbeige? Does it have the greenish interior and dash?

I had this one for a while, 525e auto, loved it but sold it back to my mate as it was drinking too much on pizza deliveries and picking up dents being street parked in Bradford.


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SiC said:
  • Viscous fan tool?

An instance where my interests in bicycles and cars overlapped.

32mm headset spanner will do the job.


Since when did bicycle tools get so expensive...?


Anyway, I've deployed this method successfully on two different E36s so far. Just remember it's reverse-threaded.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I *do* love an E28. If that has the same M20 engine my E34 520i had, they're fabulous. Under hard acceleration they 'howl'...

Don't they have a mechanical brake servo?

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Dave_Q said:

I am fully moist for this, is it Bronzitbeige? Does it have the greenish interior and dash?

It does! @Steve79 original thread is here:

I probably should link this up at the top post. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice one!

An unusual case of me not buying one when I viewed a 1986 525e (wierd but cool long stroke economy engine ) some wierd rust underneath where @cort16 knows all about put me off. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, HMC said:

Nice one!

An unusual case of me not buying one when I viewed a 1986 525e (wierd but cool long stroke economy engine ) some wierd rust where @cort16 knows all about put me off. 

That's the engine that revs about as fast as a modern diesel does, but very clever with it, no?

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Skizzer said:

Ooft! Love these, looking forward to updates.

Good luck with the thieves and liars at Autodoc. Personally I would go anywhere else in preference, but your choice.

Just ordered something from them this morning damn it.

At least I have a thread about this excellent Bavarian to read whilst i wait...

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, HMC said:

Nice one!

An unusual case of me not buying one when I viewed a 1986 525e (wierd but cool long stroke economy engine ) some wierd rust underneath where @cort16 knows all about put me off. 

Don't forget he lives up in Scotland. Everything rust up there!

This has a few patches of rust, but nothing like on BL stuff. There is a decent level of undercoating out of the factory that protects it providing that doesn't get damaged.

This one has had welding in the past but only a few localised MOT patches. I may or may not remove them and redo them. These are at the age where you can still get away with that. In a decades time those patches will become a problem if constantly used in all weathers and not kept clean. Basically what my Dolomite has suffered from. 


7 minutes ago, spartacus said:

Also have a feeling that the cam belt could be square edged teeth, or rounded. I'm plumbing the depths here though.

I think your right as I remember reading something similar on an E30 forum. Unfortunately without the car here I can't tell exactly. I believe also the tensioner or belt has the number of teeth needed printed on it too. 


2 minutes ago, R1152 said:

Would RealOEM help?

I've tried that. I don't have the VIN yet so can't do an exact search. Based on model year, I get both listed. So either it doesn't know or there is a crossover point. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, R1152 said:

If it is of that era, have laptop with Carsoft 12 and round connector on it for diagnostics, but also ISTR the service interval indicator is very easy to reset on these.

Way too early for that. The ECU is pretty much analogue in its signal processing.


Service interval PCB in the dash is needing some love after the usual Varta leakage that 80s electronics suffer from...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had 3 of them 520i, 525e and m535i . The rust isn't just a Scotland thing, that last time I looked the South of England wasn't in a desert with 0% humidity. 

There's mounts under the sills that look like jacking points but aren't. They all get jacked up on these, which they shouldn't and it splits,  lets water get in and it rusts out the floor.

it's not immediately obvious until you lift the carpet. Hopefully you'll be lucky,  even if you're not it's worth it as they're great cars.


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're known for hiding rust well! Especially in the front footwell area and the rear subframe mounts.

These engines often don't 'self bleed' when you change the oil, so the oil light will flicker. Filling the filter before a change is the way to avoid this, the positioning of the filler makes this tricky though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - Going to be for sale for sure (I think)

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Similar Content

    • By sharley17194
      Ive been waiting to run a project thread, but as it seems i do so many projects at once picking one is a night mare, plus my plans change faster than the wind, i thought id create a random project thread and id just update it with whatever i was working on at the time. The current list of candidates is as follows....
      Vanden Plas 1300 - parked
      1993 Mini SPI - finish stripping engine for MG 1300
      MGF 75th Edition - NEW - SCRAPPED
      Rover 75 - SCRAPPED
      Ausitn 1300 GT - SOLD
      Purple Morris 1100 - NEXT! - SOLD
      Blue MG 1300 - scrapped
      Red 1985 mini - engine rebuilt
      Green 1971 mini - winter hibernation 
      White MG 1300 repaint and rebuild
      Blue mk1 Ausitn 1100 welding and paint
      Blue mk1 wolesley - decide on future
      Baby Blue mk2 morris 1300 - SCRAPPED
      Clubman estate - a one day project - SOLD
      Magenta kit car x3 ....1 one road, one painted red, one waiting to be scrapped - 1 scrapped, 1 sold
      White Vanden Plas 1300 - SCRAPPED
      Ford KA X1 - SCRAPPED
      Volvo v70 - SOLD
      Golf GTE - SOLD
      Mg 1100 - 1963 - With little garage classics being rebuilt.
      Mg 1100 - 1965 - SOLD
      MGF x1 - one scrapped one now on the road. 
      Reliant Robin x2 - one scrapped one now on the road - SOLD
      1983 MG Metro - in temp storage
      1967 Austin 1100 estate - SOLD
      New cars to fleet:
      2000 Mondeo TD Estate
    • By davidfowler2000
      Edit: This is longer than initially anticipated.
      As some will have noticed, Mr cms206 of this parish reckons the death knell for the SVM is close with his recent purchase of a Saab. Going with the fact I still have a 100% Volvo fleet, as does Mr rml2345 of this parish I would personally say it's just diversification. Especially considering the amount of non Volvos cms206 has had these days.
      This aforementioned diversification continues a pace. Although the paperwork still needs to be done, I have some non Volvo incoming.

      My aunt got the above pictured 205 back in about 2002 and ran it for about 3 years. By her accounts she put it in the lockup, got a Nissan Almera for whatever reason and basically put the 205 in to the long term deal with pile. It was initially SORN on the blue log book. Back when there was a theft of blue V5s at Swansea and everyone in the country got sent one of the new red ones, one never arrived for the 205 and after that it was properly forgetten about. Well she did. I've been keeping it in my mind every day since then. During a discussion over my birthday dinner a few weeks ago, she mentioned that she was going to pay the gardener she gets in to trim the trees to break in to the lockup because the padlock had rusted solid and she was desperate to use the space in the lockup. I said I'd do it free if I could assess the car. If it was completely fucked, it would have to get dragged out and put on a truck to go to the scrap heap. If I could get it moving, I would make it a project.
      Next day - 18th January:

      Time to break open the padlock then. Big screwdriver through the hasp and burst it within 3 seconds. Now to have a look at the car. It's dirty, 3 tyres are flat, one of them creased and the 4th is still at about 10psi. After FIFTEEN YEARS! A gentle rock confirms suspicions that all the wheels are locked so time to get all the wheels off and set about the brakes with a big swing press.
      The back wheels moved eventually. Judicious use the big hammer, two wheel bolts reinserted and a breaker bar as a lever got the back wheels turning. While the wheels were off I thought I'd see if they held air.
      All 4 tyres held 35psi. None of them appear to be cracked and the rubber is still "soft" to the scrape of a finger nail. Lack of sunlight attacking them I suppose but it'll get 4 new ones if it becomes roadworthy.
      After doing the back wheels, the front wheels quickly proved they could be a major problem. I took the calipers, pads and discs completely off the car and even with 2 wheel studs inserted and using the 3/4 drive breaker bar with an extra foot of length over the 1/2 bar, neither wheel / shaft would turn. So either the bearings had seized, the CV joints in the driveshafts had seized or something very sinister was happening inside the gearbox. By this time it was getting dark and cold so time to put it all away for another day.
      Another day - 24th January:
      Various discussions were had on the Scotoshite WhatsApp chat and the end result being Mr 320Touring of this parish agreed to come round for a shufty. He was wanting to check up on another car in a lockup only a mile or so away so it was a no brainer.
      As before, front wheels off, bar on the wheel bolts... nothing. What to do next? We need to use the car's own power to try to free off whatever is seized on the front wheels but the car is nose in to the lockup so we can't get jump leads to it. We need to drag it out but we don't have a tow rope however we manage to find what appears to be a self tightening dog collar / leash in the car and decide to cue MAXIMUM SKETCHINESS!!!

      A gentle tug from the ML of doom proved the NSF wheel is tight but not seized however the OSF is not moving. Fuck it... drag it while pushing from the front. If we need to shove it back in there's an old tyre in a pile of rubbish waiting to get uplifted by the council that can act as a cushion and the ML will do the job no bother. We also took the front brake discs off to minimise any drag from those.

      We decided to drag it out just enough to get my jump leads on to the battery. We had already taken the battery out to try it on the leads outside the car. Surprise surprise* it was so dead it had gone open circuit so there was absolutely no magic pixies flowing in to it. Luckily I had an old battery from the 740 that was the same size so that was obtained, inserted and then put to work. Time to leave it to charge for a wee bit.

      Now that we've got some electricity going from the ML in to the 205 it's time to see what will happen. Thanks to Mr Touring for providing the videos...
      At one point we were vexed by the daft French screw on battery terminals
      We were getting a bit desperate by this point. We used quite a lot of "easy start" and the amount of electricity was causing problems.
      We took a break at this point for 10 mins or so. Mainly to make sure we didn't get too frustrated but also to make sure the maximum possible amount of electricity was in the actual battery so that the leads were just there as a boost. This was clearly a good idea...
      Learning from all the antics of the last 15 mins or so we left it for another 5 mins. Using a clamp meter we let it get to the point that almost no electricity was flowing in the leads and therefore an almost complete charge and spraying the "easy start" ahead of time, results were finally had...
      YAY! MUCH ELATION! Oh and that old diesel stinks. Time to get the leads off, move the ML and let the 205 tick over for a few minutes to let the engine settle. Next we found out why the front wheels were not for turning...
      So yeah. All the CV Joints were completely solid. But anyways it was mission accomplished for the day. We got it moving and a general once over suggests that it should be easily salvageable therefore if auntie wants the space in the lockup, it's going to have to go somewhere. Time to put it back in and wrap up for the day.

      Thanks to 320 Touring in assistance. The list of work is substantial but not insurmountable. It needs - a battery, front discs, front pads, front calipers, front lower arms, front driveshafts, possibly bearings, rear drums, rear shoes, rear fitting kit, probably handbrake cables, flexi hoses all round, 4 new tyres, 3 of the 4 doors don't work properly, a water leak at the water pump but that can get done with a new cam belt, probably a thermostat, engine oil, filters all round, fresh fuel, a good clean, handbrake light, oil pressure light and a rear screenwash leak inside the tailgate.
      Oh and a sidelight bulb...

      Interim time:
      Lockup secured in Cumbernauld.
      Car transporter trailer booked for Wed 12th Feb to move it. The V70 will do the honours.
      Another bit of tinkering - 4th February
      So it has been agreed the V5 will be transferred in to my name. With an impending trailer move, I thought I'd go back and have another look at things and reassemble the front brakes. I've already installed a new battery so it can be started without the need for leads and it does so quite happily even though the fuel coming from the tank smells like paint. I drove it about in circles for 5 - 10 mins to free up the CV joints and scrape the rust off the brake discs. I also did some straight line tests pulling away in 2nd which seemed to free up the turbo actuator.
      I also found the radio code so I got that working but you'll have to take my word on it 'cos YouTube will just give me a copyright flag.
      I shall leave this one here just now. Not much will happen for a while. There will of course be the drama of the trailer move but once it's in the lockup a plan of action will need to be drawn up. A sensible first course will be, I think, to find someone who will give it a once over for MoT viability before any new parts are obtained. All the obvious stuff should be easily DIYable but I don't know what lurks underneath. Some things like the timing belt and water pump will be paid for but the rest will just get picked away at in due course.
      I also found some period souvenir parking tickets...


    • By Fumbler
      To mark the genesis of my fleet project thread I here present my new car: a 1997 Nissan Micra Shape-

      It really looks that good. There is a reason for this: its previous owner was an old lady who loved the thing so much so she made every effort to keep it in good shape. It originally came from Fleet in the GU postcode which suggests to me it was bought by the present dealer at auction, hence arriving down here in Kent. Before seeing the car I checked its MOT history and its only fails were thanks to broken stoplights, which shows me that it was very well cared for. I suppose an example of this was that on the last MOT, an advisory was a corroded rear silencer. The silencer on the car when I saw it was new. Methinks the lady wanted to keep it as good as possible. It was kept in a garage and so all the bumpers and black trim are very black and the tyres are in very good condition. Spare never used! Also included a free Dettol first aid kit from 1997.
      This car has 15000 genuine miles on the clock. We clocked over 15000 during the test drive! The lady owner really only trundled around her village in it and the MOT shows that it only did some meagre miles between tests. This, of course, came at a price. We saw a cherry red Micra from 2002 at the same dealer. Paint was shoddy and when they washed it the boot had massive sections of bare metal and it wasn't very happy. This car, however, is in fabulous condition and there was no contest between the two cars- it really is that good, inside and out. Immaculate interior, driver's airbag, cassette player... all there and all functioning (apart from cassette thanks to new battery and failed display). This meant that I bought it for £1600, £100 over what was my uppermost limit, but I knew I wouldn't see another like this that was in as good shape for a fair while. It was priced very ambitiously, at £1990, so I'm content in the fact I managed to slash a few hundred off the price. There wasn't that much paperwork though. All the dealership received was the logbook with 3 service stamps from 1998, 1999 and 2000, the radio key pass, a National Trust sticker, and the original paperwork holder. I suspect the old lady died and had her car auctioned, and the massive file of paperwork is now someone's egg carton, along will everything else she owned.

      As always, this car isn't exactly in showroom condition. While the inside is great and the floor is solid, and the underseal is in great shape, the not undersealed parts need a small looking at. Mainly the rear of the driver's side sill. It's really the only bubbling on the car. I suspect a well aimed stonechip managed to fester over the wintery salted roads, making it rust even more. It's around the size of a 5p piece, and will give me the opportunity to spray the insides of the sill with some chain oil to prevent any further corrosion. Behind the fuel tank there are a few rusty joints- places where the spraygun cannot get paint onto- which some Vactan and Dynax should put to rights. Alternator belt looks original because of the cracking and Nissan badges and will need doing soon as well as the front plate. As much as I like the 90's font and original dealer surround, the dishevelled R and general water ingress is a persistant MOT advisory. It could be the MOT station being strict (and most likely is considering there's a Saxo down the road with far worse blackening), however for the sake of peace of mind and all that, I'll get a new one made. The rear has already been replaced indicating this has happened before.
      All in all, I think this is a nice plucky motor. I'll have it by the end of the week; just got to sort out tax, insurance, and it's going to have an MOT. As part of the deal it's getting the MOT and an oil and filter change which will be something ticked off the list. It has some love scratches and chips here and there, but it drives well, is stiff and controllable, and should make out to be a nice summer project!
    • By dome
      This evening I venture forth into hitherto unknown lands (Kirkintilloch) to collect my latest acquisition.

      Which, naturally, has issues.

      I have purchased my first line of defence.

      Which appears to have antigravity properties

      More will follow this evening...
    • By 320touring
      Been far too long* since I have done one of these..
      Last night, I spent some time ( and not an inconsiderable number of £) ordering up parts to fix 4 of the fleet. Additionally, the Audi goes in on Monday for two front tyres.
      By midnight I was cash poor and not yet part rich, so I downed the laptop and turned to idly browsing my phone..
      Staying strong through the sea of " for sale" tags here, I upped the ante and broke out TEH DADDY!
      Up in these parts, the bargains are oft far flung - population density and geography conspiring against the local bargain hunter.
      Due to this, my default search includes a radius of 150 miles - annoyingly flagging up NI cars not worth the extortionate repatriation costs.
      However, it also reaches into the far flung Ecosse.. catching exotic locations such as Duns and Huntly.
      But not so this time, for lo, the tree did bear fruit and it doth fall not far from my abode.
      This is the collection leg of the adventure, a TTT/ Split_Pin co-produced Caper.
      My lift arrives at 8.
  • Create New...