The BMW 5 Series is the mid-sized luxury car line of BMW since 1972. The 5 Series got its name by being the 5th new series after the V-8 Isetta era. The series was a purely sedan line until station wagon versions were added in 1992. It's currently in its 5th generation.
With the large sedan line, the
E3, and the sporty sedan line, the
E10, clearly established, it was time for BMW to expand to mid-sized sedans. The BMW E12, considered the 1st generation of the 5 Series, was introduced in 1972 with the 4-cylinder 2.0-L 520 and the fuel-injected 520i. The 2.5-L 525 was added in 1973, the 1.8-L 518 and 3.0-L 530i in 1974 and the 2.8-L 528 in 1975. In 1976, a minor facelift occured and in 1977, the 520 and 520i were replaced by the 6-cylinder 520/6 and the 528 was replaced by the fuel-injected 528i. Special editions included the 3.0-L 530 MLE, the 3.2-L 533i and the 3.5-L M535i. All models were replaced in 1981 by the next generation of the 5 Series, the
BMW E28. South Africa was the only exception as they continued to produce E12 models until 1984.