BMW 635CSi Face-off: High mileage US-Spec vs. Low mileage Euro

BMW 635CSi Face-off: High mileage US-Spec vs. Low mileage Euro

With its sharply raked front fascia, long hood and tapering rear end, the E24 6-series is arguably one of the most beautiful BMWs ever made. The grand tourer first arrived in the US in 1977 as the 630, powered by a 3.0 liter M30 engine that produced a not-terribly-impressive 176 hp. While a series of improvements and changes to the lineup would improve things little by little – the 630 was replaced by the 633 in 1978, then the 635 in 1985, and an M6 would arrive in 1987 – the American models would remain saddled with performance-sapping emissions equipment and engines with lower compression ratios than their European counterparts. It wasn’t the end of the world: the E24 was not really about out-and-out performance anyway. Instead, it was for loping across vast stretches of road in comfort and style while conspicuously showing off your wealth. The US-spec 635CSi appeared 1985, bringing with it the 3.4 liter version of the M30 engine and Motronic engine management. Still underpowered in comparison with its European cousin, it was at least significantly torquier than the 633 it replaced. And the performance gap would close almost entirely by 1987 when power output on US-models was bumped to 208 hp. For today’s post, I’ve selected two lovely looking examples of the 635. Both wear Bronzitbeige Metallic paint and come equipped with manual gearboxes. One is a high-milage US-spec example, the other is a low-mileage Euro-spec car with a significant price premium attached.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 635CSi on Hemmings.com

End of the Shark Era: 1988 BMW 635CSi

End of the Shark Era: 1988 BMW 635CSi

We have not written up an E24 in the past few months.

‘For shame!’ you should be shouting at your screen, and you’d be right. Quintessentially an 80s car (though designed in the 1970s), the BMW 6-series offered performance, elegance, presence and practicality to the 2-door luxury market. While the Mercedes-Benz SEC might have enjoyed a better reputation and the Audi Quattro was technically more exciting, the E24’s resilient staying power has meant that some 28 years after production wrapped these lovely coupes are still eye catching.

This particular car caught my eye because of a unique combination of factors; the Cirrus Blue Metallic exterior mated with the later bumpers is a rare sight, but inside was a 5-speed manual. How rare is this combination? Well, prepare yourself for one of the most exhaustive (and entertaining) listings we’ve seen in a while:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 635CSi on eBay

1988 BMW M6

1988 BMW M6

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The coupe is a no compromise automobile. In a world that demands convenience at every turn, I’m surprised vehicles that make you twist and turn into the backseat are still a part of the automotive landscape. Being single with no kids, practicality isn’t something that enters into the equation for me when it comes to vehicle purchases, so a coupe with a usable backseat is all the better. This 1988 BMW M6 is the car I dreamed about upgrading to when I was driving my 1988 325is. The original M3 was, while ultra popular now, was a relatively obscure option at first. But for me, the draw of the silky smooth power of a BMW inline-6 trumps the race-derived inline-4. So being the contrarian I am, this M6 lets me have my inline-6 cake and eat it too. This Alpine White M6 for sale in New York is served up with some attractive BBS alloys in a contrasting dark gray that is pleasing to the eye.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M6 on eBay

1989 BMW 635CSi

1989 BMW 635CSi

Having featured one final year model earlier today, let’s take a look at another. The BMW E24 6 series coupe didn’t make it into the 1990s, making way for the radically different E31 8 series coupe. In my opinion, these were two very different beasts. The 6 series was based around evolutionary styling, whereas the 8 series was more revolutionary with its concealed headlamps and wedge shape. While I like both of these BMWs, the 6 series always had a way of making me lust after it. That raked front end was just too irresistible and by the end of the production run, we even saw two special versions in the US, the potent M6 and leather-clad L6. This 635CSi for sale in Oklahoma apes a bit of that M look, sitting on later model Style 5 alloys and looking all the more aggressive for it. It also has the five-speed manual gearbox to get the most out of the 3.5 liter inline-6.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 635CSi on eBay

1986 BMW M635CSi Euro

1986 BMW M635CSi Euro

The other day my wife texted me a picture of an E24 she’d spotted while biking home from work. “It’s gorgeous!” she wrote. I went to have a look at it for myself; you can see the picture I took of it here. It was a 635CSi, parked a few blocks away from the White House with a license plate that read “1LADY.” I can only hope that this means Michelle Obama surreptitiously drives a shark nose when not traveling in the official motorcade. While that particular car was a little worn when seen from close up, with broken bits of trim and some scuffs on the front bumper, even in less than stellar condition it reminded me of just how beautiful these elegant grand tourers are. I haven’t seen or thought of an old 6-series for a while, and that put me on the hunt for a nice one to write up for today.

While I toyed with the idea of featuring a lesser, cheaper model – there are certainly a few knocking around on Craigslist and eBay right now –  ultimately I opted for a car that’s a bit special. This utterly gorgeous, low mileage and mint condition European-spec M635CSi is listed on US eBay, but it’s actually located in Portugal. I’m guessing that anyone who can afford to bid on this car will have no trouble paying for the associated costs of bringing it over.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW M635CSi on eBay

1984 BMW 633CSi

1984 BMW 633CSi

I find it pretty interesting that while the E30 and E28 market have really heated up, for whatever reason the E24 market seems to be relatively stagnant. For some time the big coupes held a price advantage over their siblings, but look in the right spot now and you can find a pretty good deal on a nice one. Case in point is today’s late run 633CSi. Now, I’ll admit that at least on paper the 633CSi might be the least appealing of the E24 lineup; the earlier 628 and 630 models were a bit prettier in their simplicity and 1970s style, the later 635 and L6 models were quicker, sportier and more luxurious and the M6 has the name and motor you want. But bear with me, because there’s actually quite a lot to like here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 633CSi on eBay

1987 BMW M6

1987 BMW M6

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The shark-nosed E24 looks good in just about any color, but red always seems extra appropriate. From more than a few angles the Paul Bracq design cuts some Ferrari-worthy lines, and the S38 engine helped it streak down the roads with similar power and performance to the contemporary Italian 328. Thanks to the good looks, considerable speed, and increasing coveting of early M models, we’ve seen prices for these fast and luxurious GTs start chasing the E30 M3.

This red example has just 54k miles, making it one of the nicest on the market. We should expect nothing less from Hemmings, one of the most reputable names in classic cars. It has all of the documentation from new, but isn’t quite all-original. The self-leveling rear suspension has been replaced with conventional shocks, a reasonable update for longevity and maintenance. OEM+ BBS wheels are the other update, giving a little deeper dish and allowing for more modern tire sizes while looking almost identical. The original shocks are included in the sale in case you want to go old-school, but the original wheels are not. The Lotus White interior is very nice, but not the most attractive color. Low miles and nearly perfect condition mean the seller is shooting high and looking for almost $50k.

Click for details: 1987 BMW M6 on Hemmings Classifieds

End of an Era: The last 1989 BMW 635CSi

End of an Era: The last 1989 BMW 635CSi

I always get excited when I come across a car that is the final example of a production run. These cars tend to have all the bugs worked out that may have existed when the model first started rolling off the assembly line. My 2006 MINI Cooper S hardtop is one of the final R53 hardtops produced. The car I drove before that, a 2007 Mercedes-Benz C230, was built in the last four months of W203 production and one of a few painted in Granite Gray Metallic. Even the 1998 Volkswagen GTI 2.0 I had years ago was one of the last Mk3 GTIs, fitted with special interior trim and polished aluminum wheels specific to that model year. This 1989 BMW 635CSi in Bronzit Beige is claimed to be the last of its kind built, with a letter from the President of BMW to back it up. Those looking for a late E24 won’t want to miss this.

Click for details: 1989 BMW 635CSi on Hemmings Motor News

1985 BMW 635CSi Euro-Spec

1985 BMW 635CSi Euro-Spec

It’s been a good week for European specification BMWs here at GCFSB, with the ultra-clean and original E28 and unique E34 the other day. Today is a more desirable model to many, because beyond offering the slimmer bumpers the rest of the world enjoyed, through the mid 1980s if you wanted any real performance from your BMW the Euro versions offered a substantial bump. Through 1984, the top of the heap on U.S. shores was the 633CSi – power had steadily improved since launch, but only slightly – from 176 horsepower in the 630CSi to 181 in the 633. Running concurrently in Europe, however, was a hotter 635CSi. With 218 horsepower on tap from the enlarged 3.4 liter displacement, coupled with a lower weight, these sharks offered much better performance than the U.S. bound models and it was quite popular in the early 1980s to import them. However, in 1985 BMW brought it’s own semi-neutered version of the 635CSi to the North American market, meaning the flood of European models slowed to a trickle and it’s fairly rare to find any post 1985. Today’s example is from that changeover year, and looks splendid in black over tan with BBS wheels:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 635CSi on eBay

1987 BMW M6

1987 BMW M6

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As cool as I think the sharknose E24 M6 is, it never quite grabbed ahold of me the way the E28 M5 does (hence my purchase of the latter). Despite sharing the heavenly S38B35, something about the way most E24s sit comes across just a little too soft, more Lexus SC400 than Ferrari 550. Well, today’s beautiful red M6 changes all that with a lower stance and beautiful – if very 80s – gold BBS 3-piece wheels. Something about the red, chrome, and black bits seem to all come together perfectly on this car, pulling me in like no E24 before it.

Click for details: 1987 BMW M6 on eBay

Honorable Mention Roundup

Honorable Mention Roundup

We get a lot of submissions from readers – something we greatly appreciate! But the reality is that we don’t get the chance to write up all of these cars, and some deserving examples slip through the cracks. For some time I’ve wanted to do a roundup of all the examples we missed out on, so today I’m doing just that. Here’s a group of neat cars that we didn’t get a chance to look at in more depth. Thanks again to all of our devoted readers who have sent in some of these suggestions – we really do love getting your suggestions, so keep sending them and tell us if this “Honorable Mention Roundup is a good idea!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC on eBay

Euro Big Coupe Showdown: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC v. 1984 BMW 635CSi

Euro Big Coupe Showdown: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC v. 1984 BMW 635CSi

In the early 1980s, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz offered big coupes based upon sedan brethren. But to get the performance that matched their looks, before 1985-1986 you needed to look towards the “Grey Market” to get the hotter original specification motors. For the BMW 6-series, that meant the 635CSi jumped from 182 horsepower to 218, with 10 lb.ft more torque, too. But the Mercedes-Benz SEC was the big jump in power, with 27 horsepower more than the 380SEC but a massive 67 lb.ft of torque added. Coupled with lower weight, better headlights and slimmer bumpers, today these Euro editions are still quite popular and highly sought. Today I have two to face off; are either worth the high asking price for the ticket of admission?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC on eBay

1988 BMW 635CSi

1988 BMW 635CSi

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Our intrepid editor here at GCFSB sent over this listing when the 968 I was going to write up sold. Though it’s an entirely different style of vehicle, the purpose of the E24 is quite similar to that of the last four cylinder Porsche. Both were geared towards upwardly mobile citizens who wanted to spice up their lives and make a statement with what they drove. Make no mistake, the E24 is a statement vehicle, from the 628 CSi all the way up the M6. It has mountains of curb appeal from any angle, which is what makes it one of the prettiest cars of all time. The spacious cabin has a airy greenhouse feel, something sorely missed in modern car design, which has become a study in minimizing blindspots while raising belt lines. Everything about the E24 is balanced, it’s just the right amount of luxury, just the right amount of sporty, it’s BMW at their best. While the current 6 Series is a brutish grand tourer that I admittedly have a soft spot for, especially in Gran Coupe form, it doesn’t come close to matching the beauty of the original 6. It’s incredibly difficult to produce a car that manages to draw all the right kinds of attention. The 968 is a fun car, but in its heyday it was seen as a car for those seeking attention.  The E24 on the other hand was for those folks who just wanted to go about their business, but wanted to look damn good while doing so.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 635CSi on eBAY