When BMW South Africa wanted to go racing in the mid-1970s, the company sought out famous racing driver and Head of BMW Motorsport Jochen Neerpasch. Shortly thereafter, two of the first generation BMW 5 Series (E12) race cars were prepared to compete in the flagship Modified Production Series in South Africa.
The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) rolled up to the starting line in the Modified Production Series in 1976. Fifteen wins from 15 consecutive starts followed, and BMW stamped its authority on the racing series with three championship titles in three years. The BMW 530 MLE was the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history when it was retired in 1985.
To qualify for entry, BMW South Africa had to sell 100 road-going versions of this first generation BMW 5 Series, known as the 530 MLE, to the public. Developed by BMW Motorsport as a limited edition ‘homologation’ model for South Africa, 227 were produced between 1976-77. The six cylinder engine was a factory tweaked version of the same motor found in the 3.0L. It proved to be an early step of BMW’s ventures into track oriented cars for the road.
After years of searching, BMW South Africa managed to acquire one of the only BMW 530 MLEs known to have survived beyond its 1970s heyday. Car number 100 came with a particular pedigree, it was owned by race driver and the racing 530 MLE’s team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie.
Over the past year it has been painstakingly restored in a joint venture with BMW South Africa and Custom Restorations. Four BMW South Africa employees who were on hand to built the original more than four decades ago still work at the factory today and selflessly provided their input during the extraordinary vehicle’s entire restoration process.
Totally unique to South Africa, the BMW Plant Rosslyn-produced car saw weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.
South Africa enjoys a long history of rare and storied BMW special editions. In 1973, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn was the very first BMW plant established outside of Germany and several models were specially built for the local market until 1990. A growing list of these have been methodically restored by BMW South Africa in recent years, including the cult classic BMW 333i