Over the course of the year, we’ve been following the restoration project for the South Africa-market-only BMW 530 MLE, a car that’s mostly unknown to BMW enthusiasts around the globe. However, BMW SA has been working on a restoration of the forgotten icon and has even employed the help of former BMW workers that built the originals back in the ’70s. It’s been an interesting project to watch and it’s not reached a milestone stage.
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At the beginning of July 2019, car number 100 was painted in its original Chamonix White Metallic paint. On July 12, the body shell was mounted to its suspension, creating a fully restored rolling chassis. The bare engine has also been fully rebuilt and restored and was also started for the first time in more than twenty years. Not only that but the engine was started by Mr Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, and Mr William Mokwape, a retired former employee of BMW Group Plant Rosslyn who built the car in 1976. Soon enough, the engine will be installed in the old BMW 530 MLE.
Car number 100 has some special meaning to BMW SA. This specific 1976 BMW 530 MLE was owned by former racing driver and the 530 MLE’s racing team manager, Peter Kaye-Eddie. So it’s a special car for the team in South Africa and one worth the effort to fully restore. It’s also a very rare car, with not many of them being built and having only been built in South Africa.
Not only that but the BMW 530 MLE is a special car for South African BMW enthusiasts. It was designed specially to go racing in the Modified Production Series in South Africa and won its first 15 consecutive starts. In fact, when it was retired in 1985, it was the most successful racing 5 Series in history. But to qualify for the racing series, BMW SA had to homologate it and sell at least 100 units. So it sold over two hundred; 110 Type 1 models and 117 Type 2 models. So not many existed even back in the late ’70s, so you can imagine far fewer exist today.
That makes the BMW 530 MLE even more special of a car and one we’re excited to see when it’s fully restored. We’re also sure South African BMW fans will be very excited to see it as well.