Collectables Review - Page 14
Classic M Cars .... Not many of these left in the world. We drive and photograph a 1984 BMW M535i back to back with its latest sibling from Bavaria.
To the untrained eye this is an old box from way back when Thatcher and Reagan were familiar household names, snackwich machines gave you gourmet like sandwiches and if you were affluent, you made use of a sodastream when your friends came over. A select few that had deep pockets and enjoyed a spirited drive had the privilege of owning a BMW and the luckiest of them had the granddaddy of the M generation of saloon cars, the BMW M535i.
Step in and turn the key to light up that 3.5 litre straight 6 single cam motor. The untrained ear will register that this is something special and those petrol heads amongst us will feel a spine tingling one gets when there’s motoring nirvana lurking by. Headline figures are 160kw, 215bhp and a 7 second 0-100km/h. Not that quick you might say however this is 1984 and if you required something quicker you had to look up exotica from Maranello or Stuttgart. The average family sedan took a week to get to 100km/h and sounded wheezy getting there. The M535i is still warming up at 160. In the early 80’s none of the big names made a super saloon. This was the first sedan from the magicians at M, and is the car that kicked off the range of M cars we are able to savour today. This here is the original BMW halo car and this particular example from the boys at SMG Collection Umhlanga is pristine beyond belief. The paintwork; the gorgeous deep dish wheels to the Recaro M embossed seats.
I have seen cars that are a few months old in far worse condition. This car was cherished by an enthusiast and continues its pampered life at SMG. However, I doubt that it will be there for much longer. Some of the most precious gems can be seen and purchased from the multitude of shopping malls around the corner. Try finding an M535i in this condition, and you will struggle to do so at well-known auction houses from around the world. Some of the best investments today are property, crypto currency and art. Motoring art does not come any better than this. BMW made just 1650 in its life cycle and the M535i was only seen in Germany and South Africa. The front
spoiler is a dead giveaway that this is a purpose made track focused machine. Then there’s the Recaro sit-in-me seats that hug you like a wrestler would. The 3 spoke steering wheel is straight out of the BMW M1. That 70’s 2 door coupe that Lamborghini and BMW collaborated to build before BMW decided to do so in-house. Nevermind that the M1 looks a lot like a Lamborghini from the 70’s. That’s a story for another time.
Speaking about being track focused, the stance of this car on its sports suspension is menacing and the gearbox is a close ratio dogleg where the first gear is down and to the left. 2nd and 3rd are in line as well as 4th and 5th. The theory behind this was on track, one used the 1st gear for the standing start. Thereafter you would use 2nd and 3rd more often through the corners, so they decided that these should be in a straight line which would save you time and reduce the risk of error. Only M could think this up and I am beginning to think that M should stand for Masterclass Magic from Munich.
This is a 34-year-old car and the gear shift is slick and precise. There’s no hint that this car packs 160kw and driveability is of ease and fluidity. The slightly heavy feel on the steering wheel is possibly due to those aggressive looking wheels and tyres. The steering feel tends to lighten up while on the move and the pedals are perfectly placed with enough room for size 12’s. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to have the voice. The M535i sounds glorious in every gear through the entire rev range from a burbly idle to the higher top end. There are only a few factory production cars that sound so good and this is one of them. Its creamy and smooth that only a 6 cylinder can deliver. No need for the period cassette player which many have forgotten and many have no clue about. Who needs one when you have those double pipes singing for you all day?
If you like the way something looks, has a drive that gets the senses going and is a sure fire investment, why not? This car has presence that no modern motor vehicle can muster. Is it the original M stripes, the fat takkies or the spoilers front and rear? No, It’s the sum of it all.