1980 BMW E12


The year 1980 was a transitional period for the BMW 5 Series as it marked the final full year of the E12 generation in Europe, making way for the introduction of its successor, the E28. As the E12 neared the end of its lifespan, it had successfully created a strong identity and set a high bar for subsequent generations to follow.

Model Variants and Performance

The 1980 E12 lineup continued to offer a diverse range of variants from the base 518 model to the performance-oriented 528i and M535i. This varied offering aimed to cater to a broad customer base, each with different requirements in terms of power, luxury, and affordability.

The M535i continued to impress with its sporty performance. Powered by the M30 3.5-liter inline-six engine, it generated 218 horsepower, providing an exhilarating drive and demonstrating BMW’s commitment to creating driver-focused vehicles. The 528i, with its 165 horsepower fuel-injected 2.8L engine, offered a balanced combination of luxury and performance.

Design and Interiors

The exterior of the 1980 E12 stayed true to the classic design elements of the 5 Series, characterized by the ‘shark nose’ front end with the iconic kidney grille. The aesthetics reflected a perfect blend of sportiness and elegance, which resonated well with customers and critics alike.

Inside, the E12 offered a luxurious and driver-focused cabin. Controls and gauges were designed and positioned to maximize driver comfort and ease of use. The focus on ergonomics, combined with the use of high-quality materials, provided a sense of luxury and refinement.

Technology and Safety

BMW continued to incorporate its innovative Check Control system into the 1980 E12 models, which monitored a variety of vehicle operational aspects. This diagnostic tool would alert drivers to potential issues, thus contributing to preventative maintenance and enhancing vehicle safety.

Safety was also enhanced through continual improvements in braking technology, tire design, and seatbelt systems, reaffirming BMW’s commitment to producing safe and reliable vehicles.


The final full production year of the E12 generation in Europe was an important one, as it marked the end of the first chapter of the 5 Series story. The 1980 E12 models encapsulated all the core characteristics that had made the series a success — engaging driving dynamics, a commitment to technological advancement, and a focus on driver-oriented design. The M535i, in particular, would serve as a precursor to the high-performance M5 model that debuted with the E28 generation.

The 1980 BMW E12 models, being the culmination of years of development and refinement, are appreciated today for their place in the evolution of the iconic 5 Series. Collectors and BMW enthusiasts continue to value them for their classic design, performance, and the driving enjoyment they offer.