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Understanding different model names

Discussion in 'DIY (Do-It-Yourself)' started by cappleberry, Apr 7, 2008.

    cappleberry guest

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    Does any one know of a book that explains the numbers and letters of all the different model names?

    snikwad guest

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    Aight check it.

    You already know the 1st # is the series, or the model.
    The letter "I" is an abbreviation for the german word for injection.
    The last 2 #s are in some way, an indication of engine size. Back in the days of the e28, e30, e34 it was accurate, but when the e46 and e38, e39 came along it started getting off track.
    Also a iS, used to mean injection sport back in the 80s and 90s, and was an indication of a coupe model, but that's been replaced by iC for injection, coupe, or Ci for convertible injection. I don't know for sure if CiC was a legitimate BMW designation so I won't speak on it.

    Back in the E30 days a 316i was a 3 series, 1.6l sedan, and a 316iS was the same car in coupe form.
    Same with the 318i, 318iS, 320i, 320iS, 325i and 325is. With 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5l engines respectively. Since the 5er was only available in sedan and touring you only had to look for 535i, 525i, 520i models, if there was a T at the end it was a wagon, not a turbo. Example 525iT, this was true for e34 models and I think e28s also. The 540 back then was a actual 4.0l V8.
    When the e36 came along it maintained the names from the e30 predecessor. Though, right now I can't remember if the T was used in the 3 series name at all. Anyway, e39 comes along in 97 and the 540i had a 4.4 now, but since 540 sounds cooler than 544, which sounded volvo-ish, bmw kept the name. Same for the 740, imagine u buying a 744 bmw? Exactly. Too volvo-ish.
    The 750 was indeed a 5.0 V12 so no tricks there.
    When the e46 debuted in 99 in sedan form, if u wanted a 99, M3, coupe or cabriolet, you had to settle for the e36 style. Now remember in 96 bmw had bumped up the M52 to 2.8, so u already had a 328i and 328iS on the roads alongside the old trusty 2.5, 325. So when the e46 2.5 came out they wanted to deffrentiate it from the e36 2.5 since the 2.8s already shared names, so they decided on 323i, now this would lead u to think its a 2.3, but alas it was still a 2.5, just rebadged to deffrentiate from the older e36 2.5s.
    When 00 came along the e36 coupe were replaced with e46 coupes and a little later convertibles. M3s took a year off and returned in 01. At that point bmw was in full swing with the new M54 engines, which mean the 2.8 328 was replaced by a 3.0 330, and the 323 name was dropped in favor of the rightfull 325 since there was no longer any other 2.5s being sold by bmw.
    The new 7s had debutted also, and their engines a little bigger, so to help deffrentiate from the previous 2 generations of v8 7 series they named them 745 even tho in reality, they were still closer to 4.4s. The 750 name remained.
    When the new 5s came along they adopted the new names, ie. 545 instead of 540 and 530 instead of 528. In other markets the 525 remained.

    snikwad guest

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    Fast fwd to the current lineup. E90 came out. Bmwna has 3 engines. The old M54 from the e46 330, alongside 2 new engines, a screaming 250hp 3.0 that makes 260hp in euro markets and a twin turbo 3.0. That's 3 different 3l engines. Solution call the old one a 328i the n/a screamer is called a 330i and the big boosted follow, called a 335i. Pretty slick huh.
    Well u know already the 5er shares engines with the 3er so those names carried over, 535 and 530. I'm not sure about the older m54 3.0 in the newest 5s.
    The 7 series also received a much needed facelift in 06 I think and some engine and name tweaking. They finally made the v12 bigger and its almost a full 6l, rumour has it bmw only did this for marketting reasons so as not to seem like their v12 was smaller than you know who's. Anyway, the facelifted 7 w/ v12 is called 760i, u already know the L on a 7 series indicated the long wheelbase version.
    The v8 in the 7 and 5 also grew. And dropped the 545 and 745 names for 550 and 750. This v8 750 and previous v12 750 has a lot of bmw rookies fooled. But 1 look at the cars headlights or taillights and u will know which it is by telling if its a facelifted 7 or not. The difference between the facelifter 5er and the orginal e60 d isn't as easy to spot however but 545, 550, 540 they're all v8s.
    The older trick to the 5er name is the 535 which has the 3l twin turbo, yet shares its name with the e38 3.5 n/a straight 6 screamer from the 80. I think there was a 535 for the e34 also.

    So there, I hope I makes sense, it the 12th hour of work and I'm tired and want to go home. If u have any more question, feel free to ask, I'm sure one of the day bird will help you, or clarify or correct anything I may have said. If not ill get it tonight again.

    snikwad guest

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    Oh, and the iX and Xi models. X designates all wheel drive. Bmw used it 1st in the 80 with the e30 325iX and it returned with the E46 and a e60 in recent times.
    X5 and x3, that's pretty obvious.
    In other world markets a "d" indicates a oil burner.
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    nice reply, musta took awhile! A minor addition - the "s" (ie, 'sport') designation indicated a level of performance-oriented trim or equipment, not necessarily that the car was a coupe. Most of the models w/ an 's' however, have been coupes. There were E28 5's that had an 's' designation. The E28 was the 535is, which was the performance 5er just under the E28 M5. Not sure, but I don't think there was a 533is, just a 533i, prior to the 535i.

    The E30 325is came with leather interior, sport seats, 14x6.5 BBS Basketweave wheels (stock E30 wheels were 14x6 'bottlecaps'), on-board computer, stereo w/ upgraded rear deck speakers & additional speakers on the doors, body-colored mirrors, rear decklid spoiler, different front airdam w/ brake ducts (changed in the latter years and then was only nominally different from the stock E30's), slightly stiffer 'sport' shocks and springs (I forget if the swaybars were any larger or not), and solid rubber differential mount and possibly solid rubber control-arm bushings. Someone else will probably have some other details I'm not recalling.

    The E28 535is was probably similarly outfitted. I think most other models that had an 's' designation were coupes. The E36 I believe had the 325is and 328is, and w/ the E46's, I think the 's' was moved in front of the 'i' for some models. Not sure, but I think lately, the 's' designation has been dropped, or mostly dropped.

    The gorgeous coupe of the early-mid 70's had the C designation for Coupe (3.0csi = 3.0 coupe, sport, injected), which was re-introduced with the E46's.

    I don't know if it was here in the U.S., but I believe the awd system ('x' designation) was available for E34 5ers at some point.

    snikwad guest

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    Good catch on the S, I can't believe I forgot the e28s with the S designation.

    I'm pretty sure that atleast in the E36 gen iS means coupe. Especially since sports package is optional on the sedan, but standard on the coupe with the premium or cold weather package determining how "sporty" the car actually looks.

    snikwad guest

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    With the E30s, was there ever a 325iS sedan? I can't recall ever seeing a sedan with the S in E30 form.

    Who wants to tackle the 2002, its names and how it evolved? All I know about them is that Tii meant bad ass

    snikwad guest

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    Oh yeah, as of 08 or maybe 07 bmwna dropped the whole C thing from the coupes, so its just plain ol 650i, 335i, 330i, 328i I may be wrong but I think the convertibles still carry the C but they dropped it from the coupes. Gotta stay on your toes man.

    iS was also used for the X5 series to desognate the top dawg, Cayenne turbo wanna be version of the Ex Fizzle. Ie ExFivizzle, fo point 8 eye izzle or X5 4.8iS, which replaced the og 4.6iS. No coupe, just mad sporty, and if some sports car drivers don't watch their back they'll get eaten up too.

    AIREDALE guest

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    2002? Well the engine displacement was 1997cc so they rounded up. The 1st 2002 was in either '70 or '71 (cant remember) and by that time there was already a 2000 (which came out in the late '60's as a 4 door and also 2000c) so that name was taken. The -02 was also designated for the smaller engine in the same car which was the 1602. There was also the 4-door pre-Bavaria 1800 and 1802.

    Keep in mind that of the cars in those days 1600 cc was normal and a full 2 liters was big time power - put you in the league with TR-8's, the 2000tc Rover, etc. VW Bugs went from 1100 to 1300 and later on 1600cc. Fiat Sport Coupes and convertibles ran 1600cc and only later broke the 2 liter barrier.

    the initals:

    t = touring
    i = international (later on 'injected' - while MB still attached 'e' for 'einspritzer')
    tii = touring international injected


    then came the real Touring which was a 1602 or 2002 hatchback so then there was the 2002 Touring.

    Their system had it's limits. When they came out with a turbocharged tii it would have been a 2002 tiit so they just called it the 2002 turbo.

    Then there are the Euro convertible & targa variations such as the Bauer and cabriolet but I don't think they carried a nameplate (except maybe the bodybuilder's one someplace) and were imported into the US as 'grey market' by individuals (same for the Turbo).

    Like the other poster said, in the late 70's the cars were then designated by their series and engine displacement. Oddities like the short-lived (but now restored) 'e' for economy (525e) meant a 5-series with a 2.5 motor (which was detuned for mileage) and the -td for turbo diesel)

    CS was coupe sport and CSL +lightweight

    The end of the Bavaria line in the '70's saw the car drop the name (the last time any BMW had a real name to my knowledge) and become the 3.0iS when it got the 1st Bosch Motronic 1 electric injection.

    I'm still stuck in the '70's with a '74 tii and '76 2002 and when my son's friends flock around these cars and begin to talk about all the E-numbers I just nod and stare blankly because its all beyond me.
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    There were no E30 325is 4 doors (all E30 are sedan technically) BUT there are 2 door E30s that are not "is" models. Now once we move on to the E36 series, then yes now the "is" means the car is a 2 door and just "i" means it is a 4 door. Both could be purchased with sport package.

    Also some of this can be thrown out the window when you start talking about Euro versions.

    On the coupe issue, technically a true coupe is a car with NO B-Pillar. The B-Pillar is the pillar is the post half way down the roof line or separates the front from the rear glass. So a coupe can be a 2 or 4 door.

    A sedan HAS a B-Pillar and can also be either a 2 or 4 door.

    The 8 series is a true coupe, so is the 2.5, 2.8, and 3.0 CS, CSI, CSL coupes from the 70s. Unfortunately I think only some of the 70s coupe could have their rear windows rolled down. I love the look of a coupe with all it's windows down.
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    John in VA

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    John in VA

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    The 2002 was introduced in very late-'67 to early '68. The 2000 was a 4-door sedan, so -02 signified the 2-door "sedan." There was also a 1602 and 1502.
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    It got off track before then. The very first US E28 was named wrong. It was a 2.7 liter M20 engine entirely different from the previous E12's 2.8 M30, but in order not to confuse us poor stupid 'Murricans, they called it "528e". They thought they'd screwed things up with the name change from the 530i to the 528i in the E12 was the reason, I guess.

    They had already pulled the same trick a couple years before when the E21 320i got a 1.8 liter engine but continued to be known in the US as "320i".
    FWIW, there was a 320iS at the end of E21 production. It was actually a 318 with some sporty parts on it. It certainly didn't distinguish it as a coupe since there was never a 4-door E21.
    You're just too young to be talkin' about this. There was never a production E28 touring. The few that exist were custom built. There was an 's' package in the US in 1987 and 1988 with the 535is. It was generally equivalent (except for some plastic body cladding) to the Euro M535i.

    mac townsend guest

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    • Technical Service Advisor


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    Yes, but the i stuck. You could still get carbureted BMWs in other countries for a long time after they were dropped here. Now, the i sets them apart from the diesel models, as well as a couple of oddballs (316g anyone?) Also, I believe that it helps set them apart from other car companies that use numbering schemes (Peugeot for one) since you can't trademark numbers (just ask Intel.)
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    The only time I recall BMW using just a number here was the late 80's E30 sedan which was labeled "325" with no "e" even though it had the eta motor. I think this was 1987.

    Also with regard to the Bavaria (which was a product of Max Hoffman's marketing genius), it was only named such here in the USA. The E3 evolved from just 2500 and 2800 models to in 1971 having the Bavaria and the 2800. The Bav was essentially the 2500's level of standard equipment with the engine from the 2800. In 1972, the M30 went to 3.0 liters, and the two E3 models were the Bavaria (with 3.0 liter six now) and the 3.0S (i.e. fully decked out E3, leather, power windows, power locks, etc). This was the same in 1973 and 1974. In 1975 the L-jectronic fuel injection M30 was introduced to the US market, and now BMWNA was running the show. The only E3 model for 1975 and 1976 was the 3.0Si (similar equipment to 3.0S but now with the L-jetronic).

    dizzytats guest

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    Very cool link John.

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