BMW E Chassis Codes

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BMW E9
BMW E28 5 series

The “E” designation in early model BMWs such as E21, E30, E36, E46 stands for "Entwicklung" in German which in English, this translates to “Development”.  The numbers simply stood for the sequential project in development.  Many of the very early models from the 1950s through to the 1970s such as the Isetta, 700, 2002 or 1502 did not have any chassis code designation at all.

The “E” designation is a way to determine which chassis is associated with which model.  This is not only beneficial within the company as a way to keep developments secretly coded, it also has its benefits in daily use when talking amongst fellow enthusiasts.  For example, if someone says I drive a 325i, this could mean any 3 series model from the 1980s to 2000s.  If one states I drive an E36 325i we know this narrows down the body style as the third generation 3 series built from 1990 to 2000.

The “E” chassis codes are thrown around as normal jargon within most BMW circles.  The early models are simple enough to learn and not get too confused, however BMW decided to complicate things as more and more models were produced.  As you may have guessed, the two digit “E” chassis designations ran out in the late 2000’s and BMW had to resort to the “F” and now "G" chassis codes.  The "F" and "G" codes do not stand for a German word like the "E" did, it is however the next logical letter to use within the system.  The “F01” chassis code was assigned to the short wheel based 7 series in 2008.  “F02” went to the long wheel base 7 series.  

Early in the "E" designations, the model code was general to the entire lineup within that chassis.  The E36 3 series was the coupe, sedan and convertible chassis designation.  Later in the "E" models, BMW decided to break things down further and assign a code for each model type with in the model; coupe, sedan, long wheel base, hybrid etc.  This makes sense as each chassis is truly unique to the car.  The E30 convertible chassis was completely different than the coupe and really deserved its own code.

This change in practice makes sense business wise but makes it difficult for enthusiasts to recall all of the new designations.  To keep things simple we are providing a list of the original BMW “E” chassis codes below.  These are most commonly referred to and in our opinion, the ones worth learning as these vehicles are some of the most sought after models in today’s market.

BMW E chassis code chart

Chassis Code Production Model
E3 1968-1977 2500-3.3Li Sedan
E9 1965-1975 2500-3.0 CS/i/L Coupes
E12 1972-1981 5 Series
E21 1975-1983 3 Series
E23 1977-1987 7 Series
E24 1977-1989 6 Series
E26 1978-1981 M1
E28 1982-1988 5 Series
E30 1984-1991 3 Series
E31 1990-1998 8 Series
E32 1987-1994 7 Series
E34 1989-1995 5 Series
E36 1992-1999 3 Series
E36/5 1994-1998 318ti (Compact)
E36/7 1997-2002 Z3
E36/8 1999-2002 Z3 Coupe
E38 1995-2001 7 Series
E39 1997-2003 5 Series
E46 1999-2005 3 series
E46/5 2000-2003 3 series Compact
E52 2000-2004 Z8
E53 2000-2006 X5
E60 2004-2010 5 Series Sedan
E61 2004-2011 5 Series Wagon
E63 2005-2012 6 Series Coupe
E64 2005-2012 6 Series Convertible
E65 2002-2009 7 Series short wheelbase
E66 2002-2009 7 Series long wheelbase
E70 2007-2013 X5
E71 2007-2013 X6
E72 2009-2010 X6 Hybrid
E81 2007-2011 1 Series 3 door hatch
E82 2008-2013 1 Series Coupe
E83 2003-2010 X3
E84 2009-2015 X1
E85 2003-2008 Z4 / Z4M Roadster
E86 2006-2008 Z4 / Z4M Coupe
E87 2004-2011 1 series 5 door hatch
E88 2008-2014 1 Series Convertible
E89 2009-2016 Z4 Convertible Coupe
E90 2006-2012 3 Series Sedan
E91 2006-2012 3 Series Touring Wagon
E92 2007-2013 3 Series Coupe
E93 2007-2013 3 Series Convertible

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