M535i FULL Restoration

Specific conversations and info for the BMW E28 M5 and M535i.
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Alan
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 20, 2019 4:10 PM
Location: Dublin

M535i FULL Restoration

Post by Alan »

Hi folks.
I'm just wondering if you can help me. I've an E28 M535i which needs some work. I have all the bits to get it roadworthy but, what is the general consensus regarding a full professional restoration that obviously costs thousands.
Fully stripped and rebuilt.
It would not be my intention to sell but, fully restored , garaged, and maintained correctly for the next 30 or so years,, would it be worth much then?
Maybe I'm mad. Probably!
Or am I best to patch her up and just drive it.

Any constructive advice from you guys is very much appreciated.
vinceg101
Posts: 4253
Joined: Jun 20, 2007 2:40 AM
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: M535i FULL Restoration

Post by vinceg101 »

I will try to synopsize my thoughts to something that you might recognize as helpful:
1. First you need to clarify for yourself what is a priority: capturing a potential financial gain in the future or the experience of the project and enjoying the results? As an Architect, I pose this question to every client that approaches a home remodel from the financial perspective solely. Granted it is a much easier analytical discussion with real estate than an automobile; with the exception of some very rare models and examples, auto restorations of general or "average" mid-line models rarely if ever come close to recouping the costs (and I'm talking total costs) of a full restoration. Most everyone of us that as embarked on either a full or partial restoration (partial for me), have done it for the love of it and for the experience of it. Make note I am talking about those of us who have actually done some if not all the work and not merely paying a professional to do it.

2. Costs: Your statement of "...a full professional restoration that obviously costs thousands" is off by at least a factor of 10. Unless you've got a pile of cash equaling $30K-50K US, you are not prepared for this venture (especially if you're having a shop do all the work). You have to define your budget, both the actual budget of a restoration and what your tolerance level is compared to your goals. Granted my perspective is from this side of the Atlantic and this side of the continent, so the potential value of an M535i is very different than in IR or the UK in general. Once you factor in the actual condition of the car you're starting with and what you will need to do to bring it back to spec, you're likely to be upside down in your investment very quickly. Breaking even is about the best you can hope for. The market "value" of a highly maintained original or restored E28 has been all over the map lately; it may have spiked 5-8 years ago and a lot folks still think their average M5 is worth in the high 5 figures but they are finding the market has cooled. Sure the overall bottom line value of good E28's has risen in general, but the high spikes have dropped off. So, will your fully restored M535i be worth "a lot" in 2050? Sure, likely, but how much? and are you really going to keep it for another 30 years for something that "potentially" might recoup your initial investment? Be honest with yourself.

3. Pick your battles: You need to fully asses the car you're starting with: how much will it take to get this car back to spec? If simply having a fully restored spec (maybe with some smart upgrades) M535i is your goal, shop around for either a better car to start with or one that has been partially or even fully restored already. It may be cheaper and faster in the long run. Secondly you need to completely define your goals and parameters in your project. Define what is important and a priority (better suspension, speed, cosmetics, etc.) and focus your efforts and wallet towards them. Be ruthless in your analysis and execution. Not knowing the condition of your car or how familiar you are with '80's BMW's or the M535i specifically (you've not shared this with us, yet), I would likely say aim to make it roadworthy and solid and enjoy it for a while to see what you want to focus on. Heck, you might find you hate the car and would rather focus your time and budget on a Porsche (or Rolls-Royce, or Ferrari, or Nissan, or...).

I hope that helped. Just know that if you do embark on this and are going to do this yourself, THIS is the place for help, information and inspiration.
Last edited by vinceg101 on Dec 06, 2020 7:58 PM, edited 2 times in total.
Preyupy
Posts: 245
Joined: Jun 21, 2012 12:48 AM
Location: Issaquah WA

Re: M535i FULL Restoration

Post by Preyupy »

As above, you need to really look at the car and decide what YOU want the car to be when it's all done. Betting on what it might be worth in 10 years much less 30 is a fool's errand. The biggest thing you need to know is how much rust is there? Where is it? A restoration starts there, if you are looking at doors, rockers, floors, spare tire wells this is relatively easy (not cheap but doable). If you have rust around the windshield or rear window things just got more difficult by a order of magnitude. If the A pillar, B pillar or front frame rails are bad it's just about time to walk away.

"Fully Restored" is a very complicated enterprise. This means entire driveline, Engine, Trans, Diff, suspension, brakes all rebuilt. All trim, moldings, windows etc removed from the body. Complete respray and then you have to put it all back together with new door and glass seals. Retrim the interior? Carpets? Gauges, lights etc? If there is no rust at all and minimal body work with a good quality paint job (not SHOW quality!) this could easily run $50-60k if you have a shop do it. If you want a "Show Quality" paint job add another $12-15k minimum.

I don't think a M535 is going to be worth $60-70k in the near future on the open market so you need to make decisions based on what the car is worth to YOU! You already have some amount invested in it so you need to keep that in mind when you are making your calculations.

In the 2002 world it does not cost any more to restore a Turbo, Ti or Tii or even a real Alpina than it does a plain old 1602. They probably cost more to buy in the 1st place but after that it really does not make a huge difference which one you are stripping to bare metal and restoring. The big difference is when it is done a absolutely perfect 1602 might be a $50k car to the right guy on BAT but a Turbo in the same condition is more likely a $175-200k car. You can afford to spend more restoring the Turbo than you can the 1602 and still be above water.

The big issue we see on occasion is when the car has some historical or family significance. Then all bets are off and the value is truly in the eye of the beholder. To spend $50k restoring your grandfather's MGB to your family might make perfect sense, it just does not make any difference to the next guy who it USED to belong to. Now maybe if it was Sterling Moss's MGB that might make a difference.
Alan
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 20, 2019 4:10 PM
Location: Dublin

Re: M535i FULL Restoration

Post by Alan »

Thanks so much for both of those detailed responses, and apologies for the delayed reply.
I truly value your opinions regarding this matter, and with that, I think the best course of action is to dress my M535i up as best I can and simply enjoy it for the now. 30 years is a long time, and I was thinking it might be useful to sell then to offset a deposit for a mortgage for my daughter. But as you folks have said, who knows what it might be worth so far into the future. I'd be better just saving some cash for her over this time instead, and that way I get to enjoy my most favorite car!
I "restored" (by myself), a Range Rover Classic before. It's 41 years old, and as my daily driver, it has given me no breakdowns in the last seven years. That project took me a year, as I removed the engine, running gear, body, etc. The M535i on the other hand just needs paint on the bonnet, wing, sunroof, and boot-lid, along with all the other bits like brakes, bushes, ignition, exhaust, and the rest. Not a shortlist of jobs, but I don't mind stretching the work out over a year max. I have all those new parts waiting to go onto the car right now. I'm an aircraft engineer by profession, so I'm not afraid to get right into a DIY build.
Maybe in the future, I might try to buy an E28 M5 or and E28 Alpina, or something else really special ( if I'm lucky enough to be able to afford one!), and keep that for a few years.

Thanks again. Really genuinely appreciated that you both took the time to give wonderfully comprehensive responses.

Alan
stuartinmn
Posts: 9068
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 1:00 PM
Location: Minneapolis

Re: M535i FULL Restoration

Post by stuartinmn »

Ten years ago I tossed a ton of money into the cosmetic restoration of my M535 (the build thread is here: viewtopic.php?t=77409) If and when I ever do sell I doubt I'll ever get my money out of it, but that wasn't my goal...I felt the car deserved it, and it still makes me happy whenever I look at it or drive it.

One way to look at this sort of thing is the cost isn't that hard to swallow when it's spread out over a number of years. It's also less expensive than going out and buying a new car.
M5BB
Posts: 1549
Joined: Jun 13, 2007 10:13 AM
Location: Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Re: M535i FULL Restoration

Post by M5BB »

Alan wrote: Dec 03, 2020 10:28 AM Hi folks.
I'm just wondering if you can help me. I've an E28 M535i which needs some work. I have all the bits to get it roadworthy but, what is the general consensus regarding a full professional restoration that obviously costs thousands.
Fully stripped and rebuilt.
It would not be my intention to sell but, fully restored , garaged, and maintained correctly for the next 30 or so years,, would it be worth much then?
Maybe I'm mad. Probably!
Or am I best to patch her up and just drive it.

Any constructive advice from you guys is very much appreciated.
This one on BAT did not sell at $17500 last week. Reserve was ???

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1987-bmw-m535i-2/

I restored a 72 E9 over 4 years. $60k in parts paint and metal work.
Over 3000 hours of my labor.
Car insured with Hagerty for $125k but definitely upside down if I consider my labor.
Look for a good car, is yours that car? Buy the best car you can afford and go from there. You will save so much money.
Good luck,
Gary
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