While at your BMW Service Center you might have overhead a lot of “e” words, and possibly some “f” and “s” words, but terms such as e36, e60 and e28 have a distinct meaning to BMW technicians and enthusiasts.  For instance, if you have a 2003 330i, it is termed an e46.  These ‘e’ terms are used to identify BMW Body style design depending on the look and year of your BMW.  E is short for “Entwicklung” which is the German word for development, or to link the ‘e’, evolution.

If all these terms are Greek to you, here is a list that should prove helpful in determining the code name of your BMW.

3 Series

1976-1983 – e21

1984-1991 – e30 (convertibles produced in 1992 also fell into this category)

1992-1999 – e36

1999-2006 – e46 (some sedans were produced in 1998)

2006-present – e90(sedan), e91(wagon), e92(coupe), e93(convertible)


5 Series

1974-1981 – e12

1982-1988 – e28

1989-1995 – e34

1996-2003 – e39 (there is no official 5 series sold as a 1996 in the US Market)

2004-present – e60(sedan), e61(wagon)


6 Series

1976-1989 – e24

2004-present – e63(coupe), e64(convertible)


7 Series

1977-1986 – e23

1986-1994 – e32

1994-2001 – e38

2002-present – e65 thru e68


Other Models

X5 – e53 from 2000-2006 and e70 from 2006-present

X3 – e83

Z3 – e36 (same as 3series, sometimes called an e36/7 or e36/8)

Z4 – e85, e86

1 Series – e87

8 series – e31

The new 7 series, due out shortly, will be dubbed the F01. BMW has decided to drop the ‘e’ designations and start with F for some reason (can’t count to 100 maybe?).  In any case, I hope this guide gives a better understanding of all the ‘e’ talk you hear when you’re in for service.  If you bring your BMW into us for Service in San Diego, don’t be bashful using these terms as it’s much quicker to say e46 than it is to say 2001 3 series 4 door.

Drive Safe!

Chris Keefer

Independent Motorcars

5836 Autoport Mall

San Diego CA 92121