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      12-17-2018, 02:04 PM   #1
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The Incredible History of the BMW 530 MLE and its Restoration

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BMW South Africa Begins Restoration Work on Legendary BMW 530 MLE
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Background
Those familiar with BMW's global portfolio have probably heard of "special edition" BMWs that are region/country specific.
Though not always conceived to be "special" editions per se, many of these local editions ended becoming special in retrospect, due to their unique configurations and even rarity.

Throughout BMW's history, many of these local editions existed in part due to regulations that were often times, not congruent, with Europe or Germany.
Sometimes, local/special editions were created to bypass local regulations (i.e., taxes based on displacement).
The E30 320is (S14), offered alongside the E30 M3 in Italy and Portugal, was a perfect example of this, with a 2.0L S14B20 to take advantage of favourable tax schemes on engines displacing less than 2-litres.

But perhaps the most well-known and most unique [local] special edition BMWs are those from BMW South Africa.


BMW Plant Rosslyn
South Africa boasts the earliest BMW assembly plant outside of Germany, the BMW Group Plant Rosslyn, established in 1973 near Pretoria, and traces its origins to Praetor Monteerders, founded in 1968.

In the case of South Africa, sanctions and embargoes due to the political situation (i.e., apartheid) were contributing factors that led to the expansion of the local BMW operation (BMW Group South Africa (Pty) Ltd.) as other foreign manufacturers practiced a growing trend of disinvestment through the 1970s and 1980s.

The aforementioned complexities created an environment that was ripe for the birth of homegrown, special edition models, specific to the South African market.


The BMW 530 MLE, the Original of the Original Super-saloons
In Germany, BMW Motorsport GmbH was founded in 1972 during a time of a greater desire for BMW as a whole to participate in international racing.

Locally, BMW South Africa was also keen to participate in the country's most esteemed saloon car racing series, the "Star Modified Production Series".

With the blessing from BMW Motorsport GmbH director and racing driver Jochen Neerpasch, a Motorsport homologation version of the contemporary 5-Series platform (E12) was given the green light for development.



In comes the BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) , which would be developed with the help of the greatest names in BMW Motorsport and with final assembly at the Rosslyn plant in South Africa.

Technical supervision under Peter Stark would see the drivetrain modifications lent a hand by the legendary Paul Rosche and the final touches by the Schnitzer brothers from Freilassing.
The 3.0L Inline-6 (M30) would be massaged for 147kW, 277Nm, a 208km/h top speed and a 0 – 100km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds.

The BMW 530 MLE would predate the M535i of the same generation and the E28 BMW M5.
Of course, being a homologation edition of the 5-Series meant that road-going variants needed to be produced.

Between 1976-1977, just over 200 (110 Type 1, 117 Type 2) 530 MLEs were produced for the South African public.

In the meantime, BMW South Africa wasted no time in getting the BMW 530 MLE to the race track.

In 1976, the BMW 530 MLE rolled up to the starting line in the Modified Production Series and would go on to secure fifteen wins from 15 consecutive start starting races, and making its mark in the history of the racing series with three championship titles in just three years.



By the time the 530 MLE was retired in 1985, it had secured its place in BMW history to become the most successful racing BMW 5-Series in history.




Legacy and Restoration of Serial # 770100
The BMW 530 MLE set the precedent for the many other South Africa-specific special models that would spawn in later years, including, the cult-classic E30 333i, and the M88-powered E23 745i, a kind of unofficial BMW "M7".

Recently, with the 530 MLE fading into obscure memory, BMW South Africa took the initiative to acquire a 530 MLE and to get in contact with the original Rosslyn Plant employees who were tasked to assemble the original 530 MLEs during its heyday.



BMW SA was able to source and acquire a BMW 530 MLE with Serial Number 770100 (car# 100), formerly owned by Peter Kaye-Eddie, racing driver and team manager of the 530 MLE racing program.


BMW has released a video introducing this project and fans of this incredible restoration build of a piece of automotive history may follow the trending hashtag #BMW530MLE for updates on the restoration.

This thread will continue to be updated as developments are made available.




Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW
The BMW 530 MLE was the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history when it was retired in 1985. And now, the crew who helped create it are helping to restore it to its former glory. Follow #BMW530MLE for restoration progress updates and as we go back in time to the start of an important era of Motorsport in SA.



Recently, during the local South African debut of the F90 M5 on 29 March 2018, BMW South Africa gathered all generations of the BMW M5, and included the BMW 530 MLE as a nod to the spiritual ancestor to the BMW M5, the original of the original super-saloon.




Informative Sources/Additional Reading:
BMW Group
Drive4Corners
Christian Science Monitor
E12.de
Wheels24.za


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      12-18-2018, 01:26 AM   #2
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Awesome! Subscribed for future updates...
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      12-18-2018, 05:05 AM   #3
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great project.. legends or anything made some history deserves some attention..
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      12-19-2018, 01:15 PM   #4
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Good history here on the 5er. I forgot SA was the first plant expansion outside Germany.
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      12-19-2018, 01:21 PM   #5
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A great story. So it’s the most successful racing 5 series, and I didn’t know it existed...
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      12-19-2018, 08:44 PM   #6
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4-door family sedan race car? Yes please.
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      12-19-2018, 10:43 PM   #7
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Wow, I had no idea
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      12-19-2018, 11:40 PM   #8
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Wow amazing indeed
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      12-20-2018, 08:30 AM   #9
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Thanks for the report. Didn't know there was a MLE version of 5 series in SA. I'll follow this one and see the reincarnation.
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