At the start of the year, we brought you a story about how BMW South Africa had located one of 110 Type 1 530 MLE. The MLE is an important part of BMW Motorsport history. Built to homologate a BMW race car, it was the first road-going BMW built by BMW Motorsport and the first ‘M-car’.
The restoration is finally complete with the restored BMW 530 MLE unveiled at the “Home of BMW Legends”, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. The grand unveiling of the MLE took place in front of four BMW Group South Africa employees who were on hand to build the original more than four decades ago.
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.
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.