Motorsport

This is the last BMW 530 race car left in the world

Guessing this is symbolic

Honestly the moment felt enveloping. The climatic finish to the 530 MLE’s journey to restoration that it fully deserved.

A fortnight ago the restored BMW 530 MLE was shown to the media trundling through the same BMW factory in Pretoria, South Africa just like it would have done so in the late 1970s. These guys give attention to the tiniest of historic details to ensure the provenance stays rich.

Return to present day with bated breath and as the garage door of the Evolution 2 workshop clanged opened, parked on the other side stands the last remaining 530 race car. Literal tears, you can imagine.

BMW 530 MLE SA

Grandad meets grandson…

Precisely. A sweet and charming script poured on the top of a motorsport breadwinner. Up the road from the garage is Kyalami International Racetrack and the last time these two cars drove onto that circuit would have been in the late 1970s. Of course they had to go, in afternoon traffic no less.

Remind me why the 530 MLE is so important

If you want the full 530 MLE story click here, or if you find opening another browser window terrifyingly disruptive, here’s the succinct recap. “The E12 530 MLE was devised under TGSA’s favourite law, ‘homologation’ and is considered – under some caveats – to be the genesis that predates the first M5. The 530 MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition) was built at Rosslyn and never existed outside of South Africa’s borders. It was then developed for SA’s Modified Production Racing and was successful straight out the box. Only 227 models were built.”

And the 530 race car

Hangs out in even more rarefied air by virtue of being the only one still in existence. The other chassis was scrapped after a drag racing accident, a decision that team manager/racer Peter Kaye-Eddie now regrets.  This car won fifteen of the first fifteen races and three championships, but it’s been parked in Peter’s garage ever since. ‘Yes I know it is special’ he says, ‘and the longer keep cars you know they become more important’. But he also admits that racing cars don’t like to stand and when he decided to get it ready for the BMW M Festival, they had to rebuild a lot of the engine and source parts from Germany. It’s still back to those exact specifications and even the eggshell white colour, having changed once from red, wears the same sponsors. “Maybe it makes a bit more power than the original’s 150kW because of the new exhaust.”

Must be worth a bit of money

Hence why it won’t be entered into too many events after this one. Apparently eight years ago someone from Switzerland heard about this motorsport jewel hiding away in South Africa and offered Peter 2 million Swiss francs (R30mil) for it.

Maybe one day we’ll see it in a museum in Munich but for now I don’t think Peter is ready to leave its side.

What’s next

Best to savour these images once again; this is BMW motorsport with all its patina intact and the moment is unlikely to happen again. As for the 530 MLE, this will join the BMW 333i and BMW M1 at South Africa’s museum. Will we see it at Goodwood next year? That’s the unofficial plan and as we know with the 530, it does unofficial business better than any car. Andrew Leopold

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