1979 BMW E12


The BMW E12, marking the start of the renowned 5 Series, is recognized for its contribution to the reputation of BMW as a maker of driver-oriented, dynamic sedans. The E12 series underwent constant enhancements in terms of technology, performance, and design throughout its production years. The 1979 model year witnessed significant advancements and continued to build on the illustrious history of the E12.

Model Variants and Performance

In 1979, the BMW E12 lineup comprised a number of variants, from the entry-level 518 to the top-tier 528i, each catering to different segments of the customer base. The 528i continued to stand out, offering an impressive 165 horsepower from its fuel-injected 2.8L inline-six engine, and remained a preferred choice among performance enthusiasts. The 520 and 525 served as the middle ground, providing a blend of power and efficiency with 2.0L and 2.5L engines respectively.

One notable highlight of the 1979 E12 lineup was the introduction of the M535i, the first car to be created by BMW’s M division, which went on to produce the brand’s high-performance models. Powered by an M30 3.5-liter inline-six engine, the M535i offered 218 horsepower and was equipped with a close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox, larger brakes, and a Bilstein suspension, resulting in a sportier and more engaging driving experience.

Design and Interiors

The 1979 BMW E12 retained the classic design cues of the 5 Series, including the characteristic ‘shark nose’ front fascia, defined by a forward-leaning kidney grille and rounded headlights. This distinct design blended elegance and sportiness, reflecting BMW’s design philosophy.

The interior of the E12 models emphasized BMW’s commitment to driver-focused design. High-quality materials were used throughout, and the layout of controls and displays was carefully arranged for optimal accessibility and readability. This combination of comfort and functionality encapsulated BMW’s vision for the interiors of their vehicles.

Technology and Safety

The E12 models of 1979 continued to include BMW’s pioneering Check Control system, an onboard diagnostic tool that monitored various operational aspects of the car. This system promoted proactive maintenance by alerting drivers to potential issues such as low fluid levels or malfunctioning lights, thus enhancing vehicle safety.

Advancements in braking technology, tire design, and seatbelt systems also found their way into the E12 models of this year, reinforcing BMW’s commitment to safety.


The 1979 BMW E12, especially with the introduction of the M535i, played a crucial role in solidifying the reputation of the 5 Series as a lineup of high-performance, driver-centric vehicles. With a balance of design, cutting-edge technology, and performance, it set the bar high for the executive sedan segment. Today, the E12 models are appreciated by BMW collectors and classic car enthusiasts for their timeless style, superior handling, and engaging driving dynamics.