Last December, BMW South Africa announced that they will restore one of the very few remaining 530 MLEs in the world back to its former glory.
The BMW 530 MLE was a homologation special edition of the E12 5-Series exclusive to South Africa in 1976, beating the original M1 by two years, making it the world’s first -unofficial- M car. Demand for the initial batch of 110 cars was so overwhelming that BMW SA decided to produce an additional 117 examples in 1977.
It’s a pretty special car, the 530 MLE; while it featured many body panels made out of aluminum and light gauge steel compared to the standard cars, that wasn’t enough apparently as internal panels and the bootlid hinges among other were drilled and the rear bench seat had its steel frame removed.
Power comes from a modified 3.0-liter straight-six that produces 197hp (200PS) and 204lb-ft (277Nm) of torque. 0-62mph (100km/h) comes in 9.3 seconds and the top speed is 129mph (208km/h).
The reason behind its creation was to enable BMW to enter South Africa’s Modified Production Series, which it did with a pair of E12 5-Series race cars. The specific example is chassis number 770100, the 100th car out of the production run, and belonged to the racing team’s manager Peter Kaye-Eddie.
As promised, BMW SA is sharing the progress of the restoration with the world, with the bodywork now repaired and painted in the same white that was featured on all 530 MLEs. The company even invited the people who worked on the production line of the homologation special to help with the restoration, which will be documented on social media and can be found via the #530MLE hashtag.