BMW 5 Series E12

The 5 Series got its name by being the fifth of the "new series" cars after the V-8 and Isetta era. The preceding models were the 700, the "New Class", the "New Six" 2500/2800/Bavaria and the CS. The 5 Series was intended to replace the older New Six sedans.

The first generation's body was styled by Marcello Gandini, based on the Bertone 1970 BMW Garmisch 2002ti Geneva show car. Gandini also did the Fiat 132 and Alfa Romeo Alfetta, two other cars that have a similar design.

There have been six generations of the 5 Series to date. To differentiate between them, they are referred to by their unique chassis numbers (EXX or FXX).

The 5 Series began the BMW tradition of being named with a three-digit number. The first digit (5 in this case) represents the model, and the following two digits (usually) represent the size of the engine in decilitres, which is the main distinguishing difference. Additional letters or words may be added to the end of the three-digit number to define the fuel type (petrol or diesel), engine or transmission details, and the body style. The 'i' originally stood for (fuel) 'injection'.

The BMW E12 was the first 5 Series BMW made. The following models were produced in this series:

1974 518 - 1.8 L M118 I4
    1976 518 - 1.8 L M42 I4
    1980 518 - 1.8 L M10B18 I4
    1972 520 - 2.0 L M17 I4, 115 hp (86 kW; 117 PS)
    1972 520i - 2.0 L M64 fuel-injected I4, 125 hp (93 kW; 127 PS)
    1977 520 - 2.0 L M20B20 I6 122 hp
    1973 525 - 2.5 L I6
    1975 528i - 2.8 L I6
    1975 530i - 3.0 L I6, 176 hp (131 kW; 178 PS)
    1976 530 Motorsport Limited Edition - 3.0 L I6, 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS)
    1979 M535i - 3.5 L I6, 218 hp (163 kW; 221 PS)

The 1970 BMW 2200ti Garmisch show car designed by the Bertone Design Centre led by Marcello Gandini set the style for the E12 5-series. Designed to compete with the Mercedes-Benz W114 sedans, the E12 models were fitted with a variety of engines. 1.8 L and 2.0 L M10 I4 engines from the older Neue Klasse sedans were used in the 518 and 520, respectively. A six-cylinder version of the 520, built with a 2.0 L M20 belt-driven engine was also available from 1977 on (to coincide with the minor restyling).

The 525i, 528i, 530i, and M535i, were fitted with M30 six-cylinder engines as used on the large E3 sedans and E9 coupes. With the exception of the 520i, four-cylinder and 2.0 L six-cylinder engines were fitted with Solex carburetors (although in the UK the four-cylinder 520 was fitted with twin Stromberg 175CDET carburettors). The 520i used the mechanical fuel injection system from the BMW 2000tii and BMW 2002tii. Six-cylinder versions were available with dual Zenith two-barrel carburetors or Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection. Fuel-injected models contain the i letter at the end of their model badge. Although BMW had always located turn signal stalks on the right hand side of its steering wheels, the E12 was their first model to have the stalk on the left side.


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