Because of the isolation of South Africa in the late 1970's and 1980's several unique BMW models were created here in very limited numbers. The first BMW M car ever produced was in fact a South African homologation special, the 530 MLE long before any other M models. This is an amazing fact not widely known.

Some of these models are popular as gangster cars and are used for shows at funerals of gangsters etc. (really!). They are therefore easily stolen and thrashed. This on top of all the other reasons that make old high performance cars rare will make these cars nearly impossible to find in future.

For the 40 years anniversary of BMW production at their Rosslyn plant a nice article was written:

BMW 40 1
BMW 40 2


530 MLE E12

Unbelievably the first M BMW was produced in South Africa four years before the M1. MLE stands for Motorsport Limited Edition and it was developed by BMW Motorsport in Germany and subsequently built in South Africa. The car was developed in 1976 and sold in 1976 and 1977.

The car was a light weight version of the 530, with many modifications to reduce weight. The racing engines used produced an impressive 202 kw at 6750 r/min with 318 N.m peak torque at 5500 r/min, and a maximum fifth-gear speed of 235 km/h.

BMW South Africa initially produced 100 of these cars for the public to get them homogated, but demand for the cars were so high that they decided to produce more and production numbers are estimated to be 201.

FirstFives has a nice writeup on the 530 MLE

Here a mint local car is shown:


TopCar published a fantastic article about the BMW 530 MLE - go out and buy it! Here is an excerpt showing the essentials.


M5 E28

M5 (E28) - only 96 produced in South Africa - the only country other than germany that produced the first M5 series.

For more info see BMW M Registry

What distinguishes the South African-market E28 M5 from the German-built versions?

The 96 right-hand drive E28 M5s produced for the South African market were assembled at the Rosslyn, South Africa factory using German-supplied Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits. The mechancal items are thus identical to those of the European-spec E28 M5.

Cosmeticaly, however, the South African E28 M5 is somewhat unique. All are equipped with the M-Technic body panels that could be ordered as an option in some European markets, as well as Shadowline trim and the 7.5x16-inch cross spoke alloy wheels. However the South African E28 M5s do not include the body-color fender lip extensions found on the German-built cars, nor were they offered with headlight washer/wipers. Also, because the South African E28 M5s were painted in the local paint shop, exterior colors were limited to five choices: Henna Red, Ice White, Cirrus Blue metallic, Delphin Gray metallic and Diamond Black metallic.

On the inside, all South African-built E28 M5s are fitted with just about every available 5 Series luxury item as standard equipment, the only extra-cost option being a power sunroof. Unique to the South African version is a complete “Highline” Nappa leather interior normally offered only in E24 6 Series and E23 7 Series models. Available in four color choices (Lotus White, Natur, Midsilver and Indigo), the interior includes Nappa leather on the seats, door panels, center console, glovebox door, headliner, sun visors, upper door trim and dashboard. (NOTE: The passenger-side dashboard does not include the storage tray found on all German-built E28s.) The M tri-color insignias remain present on the front and rear seats, though the "M5" sill plates used on all four doors of later Garching-built M5s is only found on the front doors of DC98 models. Finally, South African-spec models are not equipped with the M5-specific black inner trunk lid liner used on all but the earliest German-built E28 M5s, though they do utilize the unique black trunk carpeting.




And a road test from car magazine:




745i E23

745i (E23) - only 209 produced with the M1 engine!


The South African E23 745i is unique in that it is the only 7 Series model that is powered by the BMW Motorsport-designed 24-valve M88 powerplant also used in the E24 M635CSi coupe and E28 M5 sedan. This effectively makes it an "M7" in all but name. E23 745i models sold in the rest of the world use a turbocharged version of the 12-valve M30 engine instead.

A picture from one that was for sale late in 2012



 A road test from car magazine

BMW-745i 1a
BMW-745i 2a BMW-745i 3a
BMW-745i Front1
BMW-745i Dash1