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Restored BMW 530 MLE Returns Home
After a year of painstaking restoration, BMW South Africa unveiled its latest restoration project – the track-inspired BMW 530 MLE – at the “Home of BMW Legends”, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn on Tuesday, October 8, 2019.
Just after a year of restoration, BMW South Africa revealed its latest classic project car as a limited edition “homologation” special developed especially by BMW Motorsport for South Africa.
Now, the meticulously prepared BMW 530 MLE has enjoyed its first showing at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn in the company of four BMW Group South Africa employees who were on hand to built the original more than four decades ago. Restored by Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations, William Mokwape, Walter Mahlangu, Jacob Matabane and Cassie Calaca selflessly provided their input during the extraordinary vehicle’s entire restoration process.
“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, speaking at the unveiling event. “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.
“We are a future oriented company, but we take immense pride in where we come from,” Mouton adds.
Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, adds: “The BMW 530 MLE at the time demonstrated how competitive sporting events were the ideal setting to impress the motoring public with the performance of new vehicles.
“The success of the 530 MLE was a pure example of ‘What wins on Saturday sells on Monday’, and it paved the way for BMW South Africa as a sporty brand and a serious motorsport contender in the country. To this day, M remains the most powerful letter in the world!”
Car number 100
After years of searching, BMW South Africa in 2018 acquired one of the only BMW 530 MLEs known to have endured beyond its 70s heyday. Car number 100 came with a particular pedigree – it was owned by race driver and the racing 530 MLE’s team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie, and its engine and chassis numbers are a matching set.
Unique in the world, the Rosslyn-produced vehicles saw weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air conditioning, and Mahle wheels.
South Africa enjoys a long history of rare and storied BMW special editions. In 1973, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn was the very first BMW plant established outside of Germany and several models were specially built for the local market until 1990. A growing list of these have been methodically restored by BMW South Africa in later years, including the cult classic BMW 333i.
Tuned Chevy Impala (1962)
Image by Stephen Trinder
Cars: The 2003 Bentley Speed 8, 1999 Toyota GT-One (TS020), 1986 Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2, 1990 Jaguar XJR-12, and the 1967 Ferrari 330 P4.