1978 BMW E12


The BMW E12 series, debuting as the inaugural 5 Series in 1972, established BMW’s reputation for creating engaging, driver-focused sedans. As the E12 evolved, it continually incorporated technological advancements, improved performance, and design enhancements. The 1978 model year, in particular, added another significant chapter to the E12’s distinguished history.

Model Variants and Performance

In 1978, the E12 series offered a variety of model variants, each catering to different customer needs and preferences. The lineup ranged from the base 518 model to the more powerful and luxurious 528i.

The 528i variant, introduced in 1976, continued to be a standout model in the lineup. Powered by a fuel-injected 2.8L inline-six engine, the 528i offered an impressive 165 horsepower. This engine represented BMW’s commitment to performance and advanced engineering, and was a preferred choice among enthusiasts for its superior power output and smooth driving dynamics.

The 520 and 525 models served as the middle ground, offering a balance between performance and efficiency. Equipped with a 2.0L and a 2.5L engine respectively, these models demonstrated BMW’s ability to cater to a broad range of customers, with the 525, in particular, receiving praise for its perfect blend of performance and fuel economy.

Design and Interiors

The 1978 E12 retained the classic 5 Series design language, including the iconic ‘shark nose’ front end, characterized by a prominently angled kidney grille and slim, rounded headlights. The vehicle’s overall design embodied a blend of elegance and sportiness that was characteristic of BMW’s styling ethos.

Inside, the E12 models featured a driver-oriented cockpit with high-quality materials and an intuitive layout. The dashboard, with its logically arranged controls and displays, facilitated easy access and clear readability. The interiors, as always, were carefully crafted to provide a blend of comfort and functionality, highlighting BMW’s commitment to driver-focused design.

Technology and Safety

1978’s E12 models continued to feature BMW’s pioneering Check Control system, an onboard diagnostic tool that monitored various operational aspects of the vehicle. This innovative system alerted drivers to potential issues, such as low fluid levels or malfunctioning lights, promoting proactive maintenance and enhanced vehicle safety.

Further, the E12 models of this year also benefited from advancements in braking technology, tire design, and seatbelt systems, reinforcing BMW’s dedication to safety in its vehicles.


The 1978 BMW E12 played a vital role in cementing the reputation of the 5 Series as a line of high-performance, driver-centric vehicles. Its design, combined with state-of-the-art technology, set the standard for the executive sedan segment. Today, the E12 models, including the 1978 version, are prized by classic car enthusiasts and BMW collectors alike for their blend of timeless style, superior handling, and engaging driving experience.