The First Unofficial M Car
BMW South Africa has restored a 1976 BMW 530 MLE. The car is known as the first unofficial BMW M car. It actually came to the market two years before the M1 supercar. The folks who restored it took two years to do so, and the hard work looks to have paid off. This car is absolutely gorgeous.
The chassis number is 770100 and BMW South Africa revealed the restored car at the BMW Group Plant Rosslyn on October 8. Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations and his team were the people who took the 530 MLE from its previously unrestored condition and turned it into the car you see here. The original BMW Group South Africa employees who built the car in the 1970s were in attendance at the car’s reveal on the 8th.
The 530 MLE came to be because BMW South Africa wanted racing cars. The company built two 5-Series racing cars and raced in the Modified Production Series in South Africa. The cars won 15 races and three championships. The car was retired in 1985. It’s the most successful 5-Series in BMW’s racing history.
To qualify for the racing series, BMW had to build at least 100 road versions of the car. The company made 110 units in 1976 and 117 in 1977. The car was sold as the BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition. It featured the same straight-six engine as the standard car but was tuned to a more impressive 197 hp and 204 lb-ft of torque. The car could do a 0-62mph sprint in 9.3 seconds and reach 129 mph top speed. Not fast by today’s standards, but it was a quick car back when it was racing.
This restored model is the only full 530 MLE believed to still exist, according to Carscoops. That makes it a very important piece of automotive history.