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Caffeine&Machine cultofmachine Yard Visitor Perfectly period: Beinn’s BMW E12 5 Series

Perfectly period: Beinn’s BMW E12 5 Series

BMW’s design direction of late has, it’s safe to say, stirred up some lively debate. It seems to have been aeons since Munich launched a new model to an overwhelmingly positive response to its looks.

Many would argue that this controversy is a good thing; that trying to please everyone is a lost cause. Certainly, it doesn’t seem to be hurting BMW’s sales figures, and just look at how, a couple of decades down the line, many of the once-controversial Bangle-era cars now seem plain handsome.

Head further back through the decades, though, and there are some designs that worked when they were unveiled, and carried on working through the years. Take Paul Bracq’s design for the visionary E12 5 Series, the first of seven generations and counting of BMW’s evergreen executive saloon. All the hallmarks that made this era of BMW design so enduringly popular are there: the steeply raked nose, the quad headlights, the kink in the greenhouse bearing the name of Bracq’s BMW predecessor, Wilhelm Hofmeister.

Such a well-resolved design naturally lends itself to some aftermarket enhancements, as ably demonstrated by Beinn’s E12 520. By day he restores classic Ferraris, but for the last few years, this dainty green-over-green saloon has been his weekend passion project.

In his ownership since 2014, it’s had care and attention lavished on it to an extent that many cars could only dream of. The engine bay and underside have been hand-restored, with everything from the door trims down completely new.

BBS E26 rims and air-ride lend the car a well-executed OEM-plus look, but great care has been taken to preserve the perfectly period paintwork and cord upholstery, leaving the E12’s ’70s chic well intact.

The preservation theme continues with the mechanics, where the 520’s carb-fed four-pot remains in service, although Beinn hasn’t ruled out an engine swap in the future. Until then, his E12 remains a perfectly-formed example how a strong design can endure and evolve.

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