1980 M535i

Pictures and info
October 2007

    To all the E12 owners out there wondering what their options are in the wasteland of performance suspension parts for their old 5-series, I can say this. Yes Virginia, H&R does make springs for the E12 5-series.

After years of E12 ownership and occasionally finding the rare set of Alpina springs for an E12, Racing Dynamics, a Hardy and Beck or Dinan set that might appear once every 3-5 years, and usually a whisper in the wind of E12 springs by Eibach which are long since NLA, I decided to research H&R springs for the E12. I called up H&R USA and they told me no, there was no such application in the system for an E12 5-series. That's pretty much what I figured since H&R was never even a consideration for E12 springs that I knew of. At least I knew that at one point in time, Eibach had made springs for an E12.

When I was on the hunt for a set of German spec self-leveling specific springs for my E34 Touring, I discovered something. While working with my excellent contact at TireRack, Dean Hainey, I learned that H&R USA did not have access to all the part numbers that H&R Germany did. In this case, I had the part # for what I needed, but H&R USA knew nothing about it. With some help from Dean, we were able to get H&R USA to pass the order through to Germany and 8 weeks later I had my self-leveling H&R lowering springs.

This got me thinking; what about E12 springs since H&R USA already told me there was no such thing? I decided to go to the H&R main page in Germany and fortunately, there's an icon with the British flag to convert to English. I went to the sport spring lookup, keyed in BMW, and lo and behold, there are E12 springs. Part #29533. The German website even has a PDF file of the TUV certification that you can download and view!

So with this in mind, I emailed Dean at the TireRack with my exciting news. The reply came a few days later after he spoke with H&R USA. No can do. They can't guarantee that these springs will fit a US-spec E12 and therefore were unwilling to bring them in.

I was dumbstruck, but not beaten. The keyword US-spec E12 was what made me think this wasn't dead yet. My M535i is a euro-spec E12, and it is even listed in the E12 fitment guide on H&R Germany's website. I emailed Dean back with this info, offering to provide documentation of my car's DOT importation to the United States and proof that it was euro-spec. H&R USA gave in and with the understanding that this was a special-order with no returns, TireRack ordered part #29533 for me on April 26th, 2007.

I waited, and waited, and no springs. Not the 8 weeks like the E34 spring set, but this time it was 22 weeks! Wow. Dean had no idea why it took so long, but I wasn't in a huge rush anyhow. I'm pretty happy with the Racing Dynamics springs I have on the car now (with one full coil cut off the fronts) to get the lowered stance I wanted. Moreover, I invested in an alignment at the BMW dealer in the late Spring so I wasn't sure what I would do with these H&R's when they came anyway.

The picture tries to show their size next to a ruler for anyone else contemplating getting them. Dean at the TireRack is pretty sure they won't do this again for anyone with a US-spec E12, but you can try. At least we know they are out there, and they cost the same as any other basic H&R spring set from the TireRack (aka slightly more than the normal only-game-in-town E12 spring, Suspension Techniques).

The new-to-the-US shores E12 spring by H&R

October 2007

    These videos have been around for a little while, but I wanted to post these links. They are the best shots I have of my car in motion and were taken by E28 owner Patrick McHugh on our way to 5er Fest in May 2007.

Video #1 on the way to 5erFest

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Video #2 on the way to 5erFest

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Summer 2008

    At long last, after searching pretty much since I bought my E12 M535i, I found a complete headlight cleaning system in good shape. Sadly, another E12 M535i donated this as it was found in a junkyard in California. I was able to tell JayM (from mye28.com) to go back to the yard after he got the motors and wipers and retrieve the special dual pumps for the washer container and all the wiring plus relays. I have everything I need to get this in the car and working.

Unforunately this came during the time we were in transition from our move to Minnesota from Chicago, so I had to install this and do a lot of the prep work at my mother-in-law's garage where the e12 was in storage. I had a local machinist blast the headlight buckets for me and I painted them with black POR-15 to guarantee against rust. I also sucked it up and bought new, OEM, euro headlight washer wiper grilles from the local dealer. OUCH. The ones that came with the set had some cracks and were very gray from the age of the plastic. I also need to get a few more items to really get this in top shape including the covers for the backs of the headlights in the engine bay (specific to this setup so the motors can pop through), new wiper blades, and a few other odds and ends. For now they are only mounted for show but one of the winter projects in my new garage is to get them wired in.

Fresh stripped & painted headlight bucket

Old versus new

Parts swapped

Mounted inside

Mounted, cloudy day

Another view


Wiring harness, still to be integrated.

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