THE MAN BEHIND KOHLER'S COLLECTION - CHRIS KOHLER HIMSELF.
READ ABOUT: THE E28/E12 PASSION, THROUGH HARD WORK AND LUCK
Mesdames et Messieurs, here I am sipping fine scotch by the fire place, it is snowing outside and I am thinking where to start this story. No actually I am in Texas, it is a short-sleeve weather and I am drinking a PBR. The fire place is not on, because I have the AC blowing cold. Welcome to a Texas Winterland! And I love it, because I call this home.
By now you must have noticed, I am heavily influenced by the Vintage BMW community. The nostalgia of the past is strong with yours truly. My primary focus remains 4 door sedans, primarily E28s and some E23s. For us E28 guys, there are a few names in our community that always linger in the air to remind us of excellence, commitment and knowledge. Yeah that is right - Christopher Kohler.
I was delighted to hear that Chris is interested in letting me post about his spectacular cars on DAILYVINTAGERIDES, but more so to write a bit about him. You have to understand, currently Kohler has the keys to the most diverse collection of E28s, which could make even the most renowned collector envious –‘85 E28 ALPINA B7 Turbo, ’85 E28 M5, ’85 E28 528i, ’87 E28 M535i. But it doesn’t end there.
Currently, Chris has a ’80 E12 M535i on the restoration block. I am hoping to be able to show you more of it soon, as it’s getting wrapped up as we speak. It is complemented by his beautiful Golf ’75 E12 530i, which I posted earlier. And as he would hate to admit an S50 swapped E34 Touring, to haul him around. I know, if you are a regular DVR reader you know by now that almost all of us keep a Touring in our stables. Coincidence? Neh..
Daily Driver Status - E34 TOURING
But why E28s? How did it all start?
Chris K. loved the 2nd generation 5 series since he was a young fella. My understanding is that this love for cars, was fueled by his dad. Naturally, that led him to look for an E28 when he went to college. His first E28 was a 533i. This is how I discovered the wealth of knowledge Chris has about these cars, when I was looking to purchase my $750-special ’83 533i/5. He had a very detailed reflection based on his experience on the forums, referring to the pros and cons of the 533i vs 535i. I read it, and I was ready to go buy my first vintage daily ride.
The 533i served him well while in college, but unfortunately met its demise shortly after he moved back to Phoenix. The Red 535is came after. In the midst of all that he started acquiring more cars. The one E12 M535i currently on the restoration block, came then. Afterwards followed his first M535i. The 535is was plagued (hail damaged, floor buckled from an accident “having frame straightness resembling that of a banana”, with 320k miles on the clock) and parted to finance his prized ALPINA. Chris also acquired the Red Euro 528i, which he scored for free. He loving refers to that car as - Flirtin’ with Disaster.
His second 533i and M535i soon left the herd to free up space and time, so his commitment to the E12 can begin. Shortly around that time he became the custodian of the ’87 M535i. Regretfully, he had let go a gorgeous E23 745i (yeah the turbo kind). Fortunately, it went to a good friend of ours, the same one who I bought my Touring from. Additionally that is the same car that got me the love and appreciation for the E23 body.
The rest unfolded in an almost perfect way. I am sure if you asked Chris, it wasn’t really that easy, with countless sleepless nights and a lot of stress. The E28 ALPINA got completed, and brought a lot of happy moments accompanied by trophies to take home. The focus turned back to the E12 M535i. And in the meantime, the Euro M5 surfaced. It took Kohler only 18 months to settle this deal.
Chris’s car collection is a combination of luck and hard work, many countless hours of research and connections. The knowledge Kohler holds is immense and we are grateful to him being able to not only share that with us, but also let us be around his priceless vehicles. He brings the best of us, by sharing his perseverance and commitment.
Let’s geek out a bit before we put a close on this, to give you a better scope of his line-up:
“The ALPINA B7 was called “The Fastest Sedan in the World” when it debuted in a U.S. publication of Road & Track. Only 278 E28-chassis based B7s were made, of which a small fraction of which were imported to the North America” - RESTOMOD
I am fortunate to know four E28 ALPINA B7 owners in the US. If I recall correctly, a few years back there were only 5 of these cars in North America. More on the Kohler’s B7 - www.retromodmag.com/features/super-sedan
On another hand, the E12 M535i is considered the true first M designation BMW, officially sold to the public. The development of this car was provoked by the ever rising interest in Touring Racing with street cars. BMW recognized this and provided their customers with the most non-assuming hot sedan of the times, in its class. The M535i was the predecessor of the first generation M5. The E12 M535i was only produced from 1980-81, with only 1650 units produced worldwide. www.bmwblog.com/2016/12/29/photoshoot-with-the-iconic-bmw-e12-m535i/
And of course to top it off there is the true euro ’85 E28 M5, in Chris’ collection. No need to comment here. Just to say, I hope I can offer Chris my knowledge of the M88/S38 engine lineage.
Lets wish Chris a great 2017, as he keeps building his projects and keeps us updated on the progress. Cheers!