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Green Around the Gills – Sharknose 1987 BMW E28

1987 BMW 518i

Everybody getting bored of the continuous E28 posts popping up around these parts, raise your hand. Good. I don’t really care – I like them so much.

Now that little bit of tending-to-the-reader-base is out of the way, let’s focus on this exquisitely good-looking sharknose which parked under my window on Sunday. Yeah, sometimes I have to go to actual trouble when photographing cars, but this Beamer as close as parked itself on my lap. Naturally, out came the camera.

Please ignore the ice on the car and try to imagine your way under it, so you get a complete picture of the BMW. Honestly, I should put up a sign that said “Anybody with an interesting old car, please brush off the snow and ice before parking.”

Every time you see an E28, there’s always bound to be just something about it that’s less-than-ideal. With the gold 520i, it was the shunt on the front that had left a mark. With the M535i, it was the really wide Borbet wheels. With the 524td, there was the whole business of not-probably-actually-running and most likely being abandoned – and with this one, it’s the fact it’s a 518i. That means 105hp, which is about 2/3 of what one really needs on a BMW 5-series. Truth be told, the M10B18 is an excellent real-world choice as it’s fairly bomb-proof, but judging by the experience behind the wheel of a friend’s 518i Bavaria it really needs a heavy right foot to get out of its way.

But what it loses on outright grunt, it gains on style points. These lattice BBS:s are just perfect – and the fact they’re on winter rubber is actually ballsy. I imagine cleaning them from corrosive smush with a toothbrush is a day’s work.

Speaking of corrosion, the BMW is fairly rust-free. A 25-year-old car with zero rust is a rare sight, and the 518i does have a few bubbles, but it’s actually really tidy in comparison to most BMW:s of the same age.

This is why there are precious few rear shots of the car: it was so completely iced over at the rear there’s nothing to photograph. What there is, however, is a Finikor rust-proofing sticker. That’s always a good sign.

There is some evidence of a frontal shunt here, too, but it’s still reasonably easy to put right with a bumper swap. The leading edge of the hood doesn’t look good when inspected close, but it’s not rotten through. There’s a couple of cracks in the windshield, so that’ll probably have to be swapped before inspection time.

Depending of the condition of the running gear, the BM is worth something in the region of 1500 EUR. It can have anything between 200 000 and 400 000 kilometres on the clock, and fetch roughly the same price, as long as it’s inspected and doesn’t have deafening lifter tick. How does it make you feel?

  • facelvega

    I'm of the opinion that with most cars over about 15-20 years old that straddle the line between beater and collectible, it is more important to have a bulletproof engine than a fast engine. First, the fast engines generally double the cost of the car for every ten percent more enjoyment, not a good ratio. Beyond this, by and large even the fast ones aren't technically as fast as a new Focus, let alone a GTI, so vintage metal for outright speed is a losing proposition.

    Beautiful and engaging handling, on the other hand, is definitely available in slow classics, and with an E28 even the humbler engines will deliver on that front. In the US, I've often thought of grabbing an eta-engine E28 or E30 because they go for half what the faster versions of the cars run and so many of them seem to have been kept in good nick by doting owners. Also it would be nice to have a vintage car with combined fuel efficiency that is still competitive, which even an E30 325i won't give you, much less a 535i. But then an eta will deliver 20 percent more horsepower and over half again more torque than an M10B18, so it's not even as much of a sacrifice on that front.

  • Makes me wish there was another round of snow here in Seattle, so I could make use of the big parking lot at the UW gym for some donuts…

  • sport_wagon

    I love love love this car. Beautiful color, fantastic wheels with meaty rubber, sassy mud flaps. I'd daily drive this car, no problem. Makes me want to search for a similar vintage 528. They're around, and usually rust-free in these parts (central Oregon). But getting rid of a bulletproof Sportwagen for a questionably reliable old car is a tough sell to the wife. Ah well, just need to save up for that MINI Cooper S. Or buy a 528 as a third car… I could park it on the lawn…

  • This one is a beauty. Love that generation of 5 series and while I wouldn't necessarily think of a car in this color, it just works here. I wonder what condition the interior is in – that is one of my favorite interior designs as well.

  • lilpoindexter

    I have a daily driver 1988 528e that I just bought in December. 10 years ago I would have felt uncomfortable using a 20+ year old car as a daily driver, but to hell with it…I have auto club.
    Please feel free to send me euro spec front and rear bumpers, and even the euro grille and lights.

    • TDI_FTW

      That one little number "2" makes a big difference….. Driving an E28 BMW without an inline 6 doesn't do it for me, no matter how bullet proof that engine is!

  • Van_Sarockin

    How does it make me feel? Like I want to buy a car today. $2,200 sounds like a very good deal for what I see there. makes me want to see if I can push it hard enough to get the rear end to step out a bit. But I'd probably hammer the car for a bit and then try to get out of the way before something big let loose. It's not on my tip top list of BMWs to have, so I'd try to have some fun but not get too emotional here. Now, tell me again about that barn find 507…

  • IMHO, this is one of the cooler vehicles, among many, many cool ones, you have posted Antti. Snow, ice, rust and wrinkles just add to the character of it. Thanks.

  • Remdog

    Is that an s4 avant parked behind the e28? Sorta looks like it, but again, there is a lot of snow.

    • julkinen

      You're correct.

  • Really nice, and the cross-spokes are great, but I'd prefer to see the fairly rare early '80s steel rims with centre hubcaps; the ones with the tiny circular holes around the outside. Google isn't playing ball and I can't find an image, but I like them anyway.

    • julkinen

      You mean these?

      <img src="; width="700">
      <a href="” target=”_blank”>

      • Thank you!

        I'll take a sleeper 535i with those, please!

  • danleym

    Does anyone have a link to a decent primer on BMW and Mercedes (because I see things I don't understand with them, too) designations? Because I honestly have no idea what E28 means- I'm assuming it's a factory code or overarching series code that lumps together a bunch of different models, but I don't really know. I've never really been all that into BMW or Mercedes, which would explain me not already knowing these, but I see those codes thrown out so much around here, I'd kind of like to get educated.

    Thanks for helping out a noob.

    • julkinen

      … Start here. The E-code is a factory model designation; E28 is 1981-1987 5-series.
      … Same goes for Mercedes.

      • danleym


  • schigleymischke

    Stupid Europeans and their stupid pretty sedans laying around all over the stupid place. What we get? Camrys and Cavaliers. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Hrmph.

  • hotrodrendering

    I have a unused taillight for one of these, I aquired it along with a headlight lens, housing and bezel all made of clear plastic for a newer 5 series, when I worked for a co that was owned by Hella. I never knew what BMW it was for. Like other hooners, I don't even know why I held on to it for all these years. I'm gonna have to put them on a BMW f/s forum.

    • HSA

      " I'm gonna have to put them on a BMW f/s forum"
      Bzzt – Wrong! The correct action is to buy an E28 as you have spare parts in stock!

      • hotrodrendering

        Do they make an M version of this model?

        • julkinen

          Two, actually. M535i and M5.

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