The BMW 530 MLE is one of the very early SA-only specials built by the company’s local subsidiary. BMW South Africa created the 530 MLE in the mid-1970s, under the guidance of the head of BMW Motorsport Jochen Neerpasch. Special versions of the E12 BMW 5 Series racecars were prepared to compete in the South African Modified Production Series.
BMW South Africa had to sell 100 road-going versions of this racetrack special to the public. 110 units were produced in 1976, while 117 versions of Type 2 rolled off the production line in 1977.
The 3,0-litre inline, six-cylinder engine was factory tweaked to produce 147 kW with peak torque of 277 N.m. Performance was brisk for the era: a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 9,3 seconds and a top speed of 208 km/h. Mass-saving measures included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows, no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.
The 530 MLE opened the door for other homologation specials created by BMW SA for the local market. Included among these are the 333i and famous 325iS.
Click here to read more about homologation specials and the reasons we don’t see them anymore.
A real success
The BMW 530 MLE for Motorsport Limited Edition claimed fifteen wins from as many consecutive starts. Three titles were claimed in as many years. The BMW 530 MLE was the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history when it was retired in 1985.
A ground-up rebuild
BMW South Africa recently acquired a BMW 530 MLE. Car number 100 was owned by race driver and the racing 530 MLE’s team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie. To add to its value, the car still retains its original engine, making it a matching numbers car. BMW Group South Africa employees who assembled the original 530 MLE will help restore this car to its former glory.