BMW Unveils Restored 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn Following Year-Long Restoration Effort.
BMW South Africa recently revealed its latest labor of love – the track-ready BMW 530 MLE – at the renowned “Home of BMW Legends”, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn, following a comprehensive year-long restoration process.
The exquisitely restored BMW 530 MLE was showcased for the first time at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. The event was made even more special with the presence of four BMW Group South Africa employees who had contributed to the construction of the original vehicle over forty years ago. The restoration, led by Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations, benefitted immensely from the invaluable insights and contributions of William Mokwape, Walter Mahlangu, Jacob Matabane, and Cassie Calaca throughout the restoration journey of this remarkable vehicle.
“It is not only the 530 MLE that was exclusively produced at this plant,” said Johan Mouton, Director: Technical and Logistics at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. Legendary cars such as the Gusheshe – the second generation BMW 3 Series (also known as the E30) – in particular, the 325iS and the South Africa-only 333i, rolled off the assembly line at this plant more than 30 years ago.
The long road back to the recognition
In the mid-1970s, when BMW South Africa set its sights on the racing world, they approached renowned racing driver and Head of BMW Motorsport, Jochen Neerpasch. Following this collaboration, two race cars based on the first generation BMW 5 Series (E12) were meticulously prepared to compete in South Africa's premier Modified Production Series.
The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) made a grand entrance in the Modified Production Series in 1976. Dominating the series, it achieved fifteen victories in fifteen consecutive starts, cementing BMW's supremacy with three championship titles over three years. When retired in 1985, the BMW 530 MLE held the title of the most victorious racing version in the BMW 5 Series' history.
To be eligible for the racing series, BMW South Africa needed to market 100 street-legal versions of this first-generation BMW 5 Series, dubbed the 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE). Conceived by BMW Motorsport specifically for the South African market as a limited edition "homologation" model, 110 units of Type 1 were manufactured in 1976, and 117 Type 2 models followed in 1977 at the BMW Group Plant Rosslyn. These models featured a specially modified six-cylinder engine from the standard 3.0-liter, boasting specs like 147 kW power, 277 Nm of torque, a top speed of 208 km/h, and an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 9.3 seconds.
Car number 100
In 2018, after a prolonged search, BMW South Africa acquired a particularly notable BMW 530 MLE, one of the few known to have survived since its 1970s prime. Car number 100 possessed a unique history, having been owned by the race driver and team manager of the racing 530 MLE, Peter Kaye-Eddie. Notably, this car's engine and chassis numbers matched, adding to its authenticity and value.
These Rosslyn-manufactured vehicles were distinct in the world for their weight-reduction techniques. This included manually drilled bodywork and pedals, the absence of air conditioning, manual windows, and lightweight Mahle wheels, all contributing to their unique character and performance.
South Africa boasts a rich heritage of unique and celebrated BMW special editions. Established in 1973, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn holds the distinction of being the first BMW plant outside Germany. Several models were exclusively produced for the local market until 1990. In recent years, BMW South Africa has embarked on a meticulous journey of restoring many of these models, including the cult classic BMW 333i.
The BMW 530 MLE.