So I have been looking for a E28 for quite a while. Most the ones I found were on the West coast, and the ones on the East coast look quite rusty. With family stuff on the weekends I didn’t really have time to make a trip all the way to the West coast for a project car.
Finally found one on Austin Craigslist this week, and it turned out to be at a fairly well-known BMW shop. Terry Sayther’s shop has a good reputation in Central Texas BMW circles, and this was one of Terry’s cars for over a year.
I spotted it on Wednesday night while doing my daily evening CL surfing. Called on Thursday to get some info, and Thursday night worked on a plan to go see it. I’m in Houston, about two and a half hours away from Austin. The big challenge was I had to work until at least 1 on Friday, and we were flying out for vacation Saturday at 11. So if I was going to go look at it and potentially buy it I had to go there and back Friday afternoon. Normally I would pull my father or brother in-law for help, but my dad was out of town and my brother in law has a two year old and four month old.
Knowing I didn’t really have time to get a trailer and take it back, my plan was to go to Austin, look at and potentially buy the car, then figure out where to leave it in Austin for a week. I have family friends on the north side, but the car was on the south side not far from the airport. So as my backup I could leave it in a long term lot as a last resort.
The traffic gods were with me as the drive on Friday afternoon really only took two hours and forty minutes. I got to the shop, and have to admit it is a cool place for BMW enthusiasts. E30s and 2002s sprinkled across the bays, with a few E24 and E28s around as well. Clearly a place where people are passionate about BMW’s.
When I was done gawking I went in and found the right person, and we headed out for a drive.
It certainly isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t expect that for a 30 + year old car. Pulls strong, stops well, turns solidly, and has extremely minimal rust. But on the first test drive it died on me three times. Each time was coming down to idle as I came to a stop. The guy riding with me said right away “vacuum leak”. We pulled back into the shop and he found a tech to check it out. While it was being looked at we went inside and he showed me the stack of records from the past three years.
A few minutes later we went back out and the tech was just firing it up. Idle was definitely smoother and we sat and watched it idle for a few minutes. There was a vacuum cap that had come off, they replaced it and we were good to go. Second test drive was good. It still had a hard time on return to idle once or twice, but even with the AC on it was good. They don’t have a complete set of records, but it may have a hotter cam in it based on the idle.
When we got back I went over the body and frame. The only thing I could find was some surface rust on the trunk lid area, that seems pretty clear it was from the trunk weather stripping failing. Other than that it was remarkably clean. I’m sure I’ll find additional areas when I get back, but really clean for over 200k miles.
So I was hooked. We agreed on a price (I’m a bad negotiator, but paid less than asking and I feel it was fair), then I asked the harder question - could they keep it for me for a week since I was headed out of town. No problem, they are even keeping it indoors.
Since it was there for the week I’m having them replace the trunk weather stripping and take a look at the idle.
So I head back home and make good time again. Now I have a week to read up on E28s and look forward to to getting it home. I’ll have more next week after I have it and get to drive and look it over in more detail. I know I didn’t look as thoroughly as I would have a car that was literally sold by anyone else. Time will tell if my trust was well placed or not.
More adventures to come, and I’ll try to do a decent job of documenting the return trip next Saturday.
If kinja cooperates I’ll add more pictures.
Purchased today. ‘88 535i. More info coming, have to pack for vacation.
Update 1: Bought it yesterday in Austin from Terry Sayther’s shop. Link below.