BMW South Africa is restoring a BMW 530 MLE — the unofficial original M5

5-series, News | December 17th, 2018 by 5
BMW 530 MLE 20 830x553

We all know the first official BMW M5 to be based off of the E28-generation 5 Series. However, there was actually a 5 Series developed …

We all know the first official BMW M5 to be based off of the E28-generation 5 Series. However, there was actually a 5 Series developed by the M Division prior to that but it was an extremely limited run only in South Africa and, because of that, is rather unknown to BMW enthusiasts. That car was the BMW 530 MLE and it was based off the original E12-generation 5 Series.

In the mid-’70s, BMW South Africa wanted to take part in South Africa’s Modified Production Racing Series. To do so, BMW’s Motorsport Division used the E12 5 Series to make the BMW 530 MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition). Two race cars were made and then they had to be homologated for road use, so as to qualify for the racing series.

BMW 530 MLE 25 830x553

There were two different 530 MLEs to hit the road; Type 1 and Type 2. In 1976, only 110 Type 1 examples were made and in 1977, 117 Type 2 examples were made. So it was a very rare and limited car, even in just one market. Though, because it was actually developed by BMW’s Motorsport Division, the BMW 530 MLE is technically the first BMW M car, even though it wasn’t officially. Not only is it the first Motorsport-developed 5 Series but it even preceded the original BMW M1.

Under the hood was a 3.0 liter inline-six that made 197 hp and could get the BMW 530 MLE from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds. That’s not fast by modern standards but was relatively quick then. Every BMW 530 MLE that left that factory was white with widened fenders, a front spoiler, a rear spoiler and lightweight Mahle wheels with M Division livery.

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All 530 MLEs were thought to be lost to history but, just recently, BMW South Africa found chassis number 770100, the 100th one made, and bought it. Now, a team of workers that actually worked on the original is helping to fully restore the BMW 530 MLE back to its original glory. This is an awesome project and we can’t wait to see the final result.

5 responses to “BMW South Africa is restoring a BMW 530 MLE — the unofficial original M5”

  1. mod9 says:

    This should be interesting. Love the video, nice touch at the end when the F90 stops next to the 530MLE.

  2. Anon says:

    How was it that slow with 197HP? Does it weigh 3 tons?

    • Not sure, actually. I was wondering the same thing. My E36 328i had 190 hp and hit 60 mph in just a tick under 7 seconds and was definitely heavier.

    • Brown Joe says:

      I also wondered. It could be many factors though. Lack of traction on older tyres. Long gear ratios. Also, peak bhp is only one part of the story. The area under the bhp and torque curves play a big role in acceleration times.

      Looking forward to the next video….

    • Juan Baroli says:

      Those era´M30s where not precisely fast (by today standards, except 535i). I don´t know if this example was fuel injected but M30 based E12 used long intake runners which didn´t give it very good low end torque, something that was partially fixed in M30s based E28/E34s.

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