Showcasing South African BMWs and its passionate fans

THEYS' M535i

Posted on: 10 August 2020

GAS ADDICTS ran an online competition at the beginning of initial lockdown during that dreadful month of April 2020.


The competition was purely digital with car fanatics from all over South Africa sharing their rides and passion with fellow petrolheads while everyone was stuck indoors. 

bmw m535i

 Ghaleeb Theys from Cape Town won the first round of the competition with his iconic BMW E12 M535i.

Here we have a closer look at this legendary car and showcase his ride.


 bmw m535i


 The E12 M535i BMW will always be a cult classic. 


 bmw m535i


This model wasn’t liked by everyone but it left a longing impression to those that were fortunate enough to experience it, especially to the Merc drivers – it was too fast & sporty for them. 




The standard E12 introduced in 1972 was a very popular sales model for BMW. It cemented their market share in the executive saloon market which was ruled by their biggest competitors at the time, Mercedes Benz.

But BMW offered its customers a sportier feel in the E12 than the more luxurious and softer Mercs - thereby aiming at a different driver. The 5'ers were first introduced with the smaller 1800 and 2litre 4 cyl (the famous M10) motors. 

 The top of the range model came about in 1980 towards the E12s almost 10 year production line with the introduction of the M535i.


 ///M535i model (AS PER INTERNET)

The first M-badged 5 Series was the M535i, which began production in 1980. The M535i is powered by the 3.5 L (214 cu in) M90 straight-six engine which produces 160 kW (215 bhp). The sole gearbox choice is a 5-speed manual and 1,650 M535i cars were produced (including 240 CKD for South Africa)  Features include optional front and rear spoilers, optional M-striping, sports suspension, Recaro sport seats, the steering wheel from the BMW M1, a dogleg close-ratio transmission, a limited-slip differential and larger brakes.

The M535i is considered to be the predecessor to the BMW M5 model, which has been produced since the E28 generation.


bmw m535i


bmw m535i


Theys owns this 1984 model . He has had this car for 2 years now. It started off as a restore project and he is now at about 50 percent through the project. The mechanicals have been sorted with all the proper bits sourced and fitted to ensure it is daily driveable. Wheels are a period classic in the form of 17” Racing Dynamics.


bmw m535i


BMW 535I



bmw m535i


  bmw m535i

Plans for the next step of the restoration process include fitment of the standard 15 & 3quarter BBS wheel,  as well as a complete strip and respray of the body with maintaining this lovely 80s metallic colour. 


The "Standard E12 M535i models are fitted with 195/70VR14 tires but was available different wheel options. All European models are equipped with 6.5x14-inch BBS cross-spoke alloys while South African versions use a slightly wider 7x14-inch version of a similar design made by BBS/Mahle. They also feature unique center caps bearing the BMW Motorsport logo.” 


Ghaleeb is no stranger to the M535i. He has had a few E12 535i's before.


He recalls the time when the car just came out and was called the “boss of the road” by some. It was the “street bully” of the time.  He tells us about the famous street racing in the 80's and 90's that happened during the late nights of a vibey Cape Town suburb where the M535i was feared and well known, with its signature 'rear-drop' when launching the M535i from the line -  1st gear to 2nd gear - (the towbar actually hitting the ground when this happened). 

Note the M535i came standard with the one-down dog-leg gearbox which also came in a few 80s performance Beemers (M635CSi / E30 333i / E30 M3) 


We remember the days of "Indiana" where the M535i built a good reputation for itself. The E12 M535i won some and lost some races but it made for good friends along the way that  the friendships are still holding to this day - 30years later.  It was a very different experience to the 'keyboard ninja racers of today" Theys tells us.


The guys at Golden Dish Take-Aways - a well known establishment that is running for over 50 years now with the same owners tell us a briefly as it happened right in front of their doors. They still cater for the late nighters with some of the best gatsbys, toasted sandwiches, salomies & more that Cape Town has to offer. 


bmw m535i


 bmw m535i


The racing happened mostly on weekend nights starting late in the evening with popular 70s and 80s car taking each other on from robot to robot.  


The M535i being a 4 door mid sized saloon car had fun playing with the smaller and lighter 2 door sports cars. It was a good vibe while it lasted. Streetracing has since been banned. 


bmw m535i



bmw m535i










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