In 1982 BMW faced a quandry. It's well-established 635 CSi was the choice for a Bavarian touring car racer, but new Group A regulations were about to make it difficult for it to pass homolgation rules.
JAN 27th 2017
Video: Andrew Jordan tests the Group A BMW 528i
The new racers had to be based on a car that sold a minimum of 5,000 units in a year, so BMW turned to its latest saloon for the answer – and thus the BMW 528i became the weapon of choice as Group A regulations began to take force.
The humble E21 5-series was handed to tuning specialists Eggenberger who, with BMW's help, proceeded to strip the 528i of every unnecessary part to pull the car as close as possible to the 1,035kg weight limit handed it by the new regulations. Eggenberger and BMW developed a conversion kit that could be sold to anyone who wished to race their 528i in championships including the European Touring Car Championship. The kit boosted the 5-series's power to around 240bhp and allowed the car to comply with both the letter and spirit of the new regulations
Unfortunately for BMW and the 528i, not all their competitors had been quite so willing to observe the full spirit of the law. Jaguar had managed to get their XJS coupe homologated where BMW had backed away from trying to use the 635. The bigger, V12-powered XJS was considerably faster than the 528i on a single lap, leaving the Germans to rely on a greater level of reliability to stay in touch.
And the tactic worked – the 528i dominated the first half of the 1982 ETCC, one car clinching victory the first five rounds while the second took the Spa 24 Hours. But after the fifth round of the championship the 528i would not taste victory again, and for 1983 BMW chose to take the fight to the XJS with the returning 635 CSi. The 528i's time at the front was over.
One of the 528i's will star in our Group A touring car demo at the 75th Members' Meeting, so we strapped our track tester Andrew Jordan inside to tell us just how it drives.
Tickets to the 75th Members' Meeting are on sale now, for more information click here!
Photography by Tom Shaxson
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