E28: BMW’s First Computer-Designed 5-Series

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Computer Technology Was Scarce in the ’70s, and Computer Tech Had to Be Shared Along Corporate Lines to Design the E28.

Computer technology was in a boom era in the late ’70s, but it was still expensive, cumbersome, and time-consuming. BMW engineers, however, took advantage of computing technology, even if the tech was still fairly new. During the E28’s development, BMW only had one computer, which was shared by many departments.

Advancements offered by that shared technology include many things we take for granted today. Things like real-time engine conditions, efficiency, and powerful turbo diesel engines. Beyond the drive-train, comfort and convenience features were far superior to the E28’s predecessor. Driver-centric controls, which pivoted slightly toward the driver, enhanced the experience of the ultimate driving machine.

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Anti-lock Braking Systems were assisted tremendously by that technology, which still used tape, instead of discs. Severe vibrations were found in very early testing of ABS systems. They found a solution in the re-mounting of bushings and control arms in the rear axle. The ideal pivot point was located through advanced computational calculations.

Sales of over 720,000 E28 cars would prove that BMW’s technology was ahead of its time. Sharing of one device between engineers, payroll, and parts would eventually stop. Engineers would receive their own specialized equipment, and soon move on to the extremely advanced E34.

Via [Road & Track]

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