These days the 5 Series is most likely to be associated with the morning commute. Three decades ago, in the mid-1907’s though, it was a competent Touring car. It’s status was such that BMW even produced a South Africa only, road homologised version in the form of the BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition.
The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition was produced on the southern tip of Africa as part of a limited production run. BMW were keen to compete in the flagship Modified Production Series in South Africa. Starting in 1976, BMW South Africa ran a car in the Series, achieving fifteen wins from 15 consecutive starts and 3 championship titles in three consecutive years. BMW eventually retired the 530 MLE in 1985 as the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history.
In order to compete in the series, it was necessary for BMW to homologate the 530 MLE. 110 units of the Type 1 530 MLE were produced in 1976, with a further 117 versions of the Type 2 530 MLE built on the production line at the BMW Group Plant, Rosslyn in 1977. Very few of these cars are still on the road.
BMW South Africa recently announced that it has purchased number 100 of these cars, previously owned by race driver and the racing 530 MLE’s team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie. The car is matching numbers, however, it is in need of some TLC. BMW will share the restoration of this rare and iconic piece of 5 Series history with us through social media using the hashtag #BMW530MLE.
The car is quite special in its own right. It has a 3.0 litre straight six which originally produced around 197 bhp together with 277 Nm of torque, a 208 km/h top speed and a 0 – 100 km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds. In the context of modern performance, this might not seem a huge amount of pace, in the mid-1970’s it would have been class leading! The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition also featured weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.
Of course, away from the racing heritage, the BMW 530 MLE plays an important part in the development of the M Division. It was the first car developed by BMW Motorsport for road use, predating the BMW M1 and the E28 BMW M5. There were no known examples of the 530 MLE until BMW South Africa sourced this (well used…) example.
The restoration of this BMW 530 MLE will be carried out by a team led by Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations.