I give Audi a lot of credit for bringing the R8 to market. It took a fair amount of gall for a company best known for mid-range all-wheel drive luxury sedans to up and produce a supercar-beating mid-engine road car capable of being used year-round and every day. It’s a feat nearly without precedent. Of course, I said “nearly”.
That’s because BMW pulled off a similar trick the best part of thirty years before Audi did it. And arguably the development of what would become BMW’s fledgling Motorsports division was even more impressive than what Ingolstadt pulled off. The M1 burst onto the scene at a time of economic austerity, global oil crises and came from a company who not only didn’t have a history of producing such cars, but didn’t have connections to others who did (unlike Audi’s corporate Lamborghini partnership).
Speaking of Lamborghini, because of BMW’s lack of expertise in supercar design it was the Sant’Agata firm that was employed to produce the M1. But because of Lamborghini’s lack of expertise at being…well, a company capable of producing something on a schedule, BMW engineers had to first liberate the early molds from Italy and then find someone who could produce the car. Ultimately, it was a combination of ItalDesign in Turin, Marchesi metal working in Modena to build the frames and Karosserie Baur in Stuttgart that stuck the M1 together. Though it doesn’t exactly sound like a match made in heaven, and indeed the M1 was a relative sales flop, it has nonetheless grown to cult status as one of the most user-friendly supercars of the late 1970s:
The M635CSi somehow gets lost among the other greats of the period from BMW. Perhaps, for U.S. fans, it’s the nomenclature that’s confusing. After all, there was a M1, an M3, and a M5, but when it came to the M version of the E24, BMW stuck with the moniker M635CSi in all markets but the United States and Japan. Confounding that decision was the launch of the E28 M535i. Like the M635CSi, it had additional body pieces, special interior trim and wheels from M-Technic. But while the M535i had a fairly normal M30 under the hood, the E24 received the full-fat M88/3 that was shared with the M5. Like the European M5 production started in 1984, well before they were available to U.S. customers. But while the M5 only sold in very sparse numbers over its short production cycle (about 775 sold in Europe between 1984 and 1987), the M635i was a relative hit, with just over 3,900 selling overall – far more than made it the U.S. market. Additionally, the European models were a slightly more pure form of the design; smaller bumpers, less weight, and about 30 more horsepower on tap without catalyst.
These European spec models were offered with some color combinations and interiors that never came to the U.S. market. A great example of the combination of these factors is today’s 1986 right hand drive model in the striking “Akaziengrün” – Acacia Green Metallic:
I won’t bore you with an attempt to fully recount the storied history of the M1 here. But there are some interesting developments that helped create this halo car, changed its purpose and created the car that you see here. The M1 is a legendary car that, like the 959, 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth, RS200 and some other notable historic cars was born into a world that had already passed it by. It seems that often these ultimate cars have come about when the series rules have changed, and the M1 was part of that. The 959 moved from Group B to Le Mans, running high overall both attempts that it ran. The 190E took to the race track instead of rally, creating a new motorsports legend in the process – who can forget the images of Senna in the 190E? The RS200 moved towards the popular European sport of Rallycross, where it was extremely successful. And the M1? Well, the M1 was a bit lost; BMW had to build 400 of the expensive machines in a bit of a global recession, so they decided to make a one-make race series called the Procar series. Of course, it didn’t hurt that BMW was attempting to get its foot in the door with F1 management as an engine supplier, and the promise of the spectacle of F1 drivers let loose in supercars before the real race sure sounded appealing. What it was, most of the time, was a train wreck of crashes – but it was entertaining for sure, and they ended up building enough M1s to go racing where the car was intended, in Group 5 racing. While BMWs interests and technology passed by the M1 in the early 1980s, there was nevertheless a group of individuals who wanted their M1s turned up in the style of the wild winged, wide fendered and massive wheeled Procars.…
In Paul’s recent M6 Roundup he celebrated the many different colors that the M6 came in, including a rare Bronzit example. It’s one of the many reasons I prefer the M6 over the M5. The second reason is the particular look of the updated 88 examples; with slimmed down bumpers, they look a bit closer in my mind to the original design than the other U.S. spec cars. Of course, in an ideal world I’d want a clean Euro example – with small bumpers, the right motor and perhaps an even more rare color combination, such as this Alpine White with Buffalo hide leather 1985:
A about a month ago I wrote up a M6 roundup, covering the many nice examples for sale. They range greatly in price and condition these days, so it’s really best to do your homework, find the one you like and try to get one with a solid maintenance history over a few less miles. But occasionally one pops up that you just say “Wow!” to, and this one is pretty high up here. With a reported 40,000 miles, this European-spec 1985 M635CSi is just jaw-dropping:
If you want a grand coupe, room for 4 in a pinch, looks to melt hearts and minds and a race car soundtrack, the E24 M6 and M635CSi are one of the few options for you. A supreme autobahn blitzer capable of hanging with sports cars on back roads, the M6 has a pretty unique skill set hidden beneath that flowing exterior. Right now, there are five great condition Ms up on Ebay, so I thought it was time to do a roundup of what was available and take a look at the options. The first is probably the best one money can buy, and not a stranger to these pages. We saw this ultra-low mile museum piece as part of the 1980s BMW M “Holy Trinity” post I did last fall, and while the location and seller has changed, the condition hasn’t:
If the classic 911 market has scared you, the Mercedes-Benz SECs are a little too soft and you worry about a foray into 928 ownership costs, M6 and M635CSi are a great alternative for a high-speed weekend transport for two. The U.S. received the quite potent and catalyst-equipped S38 motor, while the original daddy M635CSi got the full-fat M88 motor right out of the M1. With nearly 300 horsepower on tap, the M88 and those beautiful headers was a healthy upgrade from the U.S. version. If that wasn’t enough, you also got the much cleaner looking bumpers to go along with the extra ponies. Many M635s made it here thanks to the grey market, and occasionally one pops up for sale, such as today’s silver example:
Looking for some garage art and a BMW fan? This valve cover off one of the highest regarded engines ever may suit the bill. The M88 was and is a fantastic motor, redefining the place of BMW amongst the great car makers of the world for enthusiasts. While it’s not so cheap to buy a M88 engine or M88-engined car, you can pick up this great looking valve cover to adorn a wall and pay tribute to that monster inline-6:
Model: M1, M635CSi, M6, M535i, M5
Price: $175 Buy It Now
This is the Valve Cover pulled from a 1985 M635 with 100k miles on it. The cover is in mint condition. The finish is in beautiful shape. One of the nicest I have seen.
This is for the Euro M88 motor – 1984 – 1987 e24 M635csi and e28 M5. It will not fit the North American S38
US Shipping is $16
Local Pickup is Welcomed.
International shipping is $70
Prefer PayPal. International Payment Must be via PayPal. Payment must be received within 3 days of end of auction or sale void. The photo of the merchandise is always the actual merchandise. Bidders with a high percentage of negative feedback will not be honored
I love the slightly worn but still very presentable look. It has just the right patina to make it fly as wall art. At $250, it’s not cheap, but as I said it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a whole car!
When someone is asked to name some of the great models in BMW history, historically the same names populate the list – 328, 2002, 3.0 CSL, M1, E30 M3 and the E28 M5. Newer converts to the BMW brand will extol the virtues of the E36 and E46 M3, E39 M5 and the monstrous howling V10 E60 M5. They would be right, for sure, but notably absent from the front of most enthusiast’s minds is the spectacular E24 M6. Available initially in Europe in 1983 with the M88 motored M635CSi, North America later received a special S38 (catalyst equipped) version of the magical 24 valve inline six motor churning out enough power to scare most supercars. Though designed in the 1970s, the E24 seemed to really come into its own in the 1980s and defined “the look” – low, sleek and aggressive, these were highway predators that could hold their own on any back road. In terms of grand touring coupes, the M6 was simply in a class of its own with its unique combination of luxury, style and sport. Today’s 1988 M6 is an example of how perfect that combination was:
Engine: 3.5 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 63,700 miles
Price: $23,800 Buy it Now
1988 BMW M6 coupe, Cinnibar Red with natural, 63,700 miles, 256hp in-line 6 cylinder normally aspirated M6 engine, 5 speed manual transmission, power seats, factory power sunroof, factory alloy wheels with correct Michelin TRX tires, fresh servicing, owner’s manuals, tools and jack, clean CarFax title history, USA example. Nationwide and international delivery arranged from our suburban Boston showroom. We reserve the right to end the auction early if the reserve has not been met. For more information about Copley Motorcars, please refer to the “About Me” button in this listing.
The M1 was a curious car for BMW; it was unlike anything the company had ever manufactured and we haven’t seen a modern day equivalent since. To this day, it is known as one of the rarest BMW models, yet its influence throughout the lineup can be seen right up to this day. This was the car that kickstarted BMW’s Motorsport division into the mainstream, as the M88 inline six lived on in such cars as the E24 M6 and M635CSi and E28 M5. It’s uncommon to see an M1 in the wild, in fact, the only one I’ve ever seen was at the BMW Zentrum in Munich. This particular example for sale in London is originally a California car and one of the last ones off the production line.
Engine: 3.5 liter inline six
Transmission: 5-speed manual
1981 BMW M1, One of only 453 cars produced (399 Road Specification), Chassis No. 4301154
The M1 was the first car unveiled by the independent BMW Motorsport division; the M1 represented a radical departure for the famed German marque. Designed to do battle with Porsche in FIA’s Group 4 category, the mid-engine BMW supercar was developed in tandem with Lamborghini, designed by influential Italian stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro and constructed by Baur in Stuttgart. An extremely capable and well-rounded sports car, the BMW featured a Marchese-built tube-frame chassis, fiberglass construction, large vented disc brakes, a five-speed ZF transaxle and fully independent suspension as well as luxury amenities such as air-conditioning and power windows. At the heart of the state-of-the-art supercar was BMW’s magnificent M88 engine, which featured chain-driven camshafts, four valves- per-cylinder, dry-sump lubrication, steel tube headers and advanced Bosch Kugelfischer timed mechanical fuel injection. Boasting 0–60 times of 5.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 160 mph, the car was one of the fastest production sports cars of its era.