1986 BMW M635CSi

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW M635CSi on Classic Driver

Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup, and we’re sporting some great 1990s style with one throwback to the 80s in this edition. With lovely coupes from Volkswagen, Porsche and BMW, two Audi sedans round out the lineup. Which is the one you’d like to grab for this holiday season? Thank you again to our readers who sent in suggestions, we always appreciate them!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi at Bonhams Auctions

1985 BMW M635CSi

Though they’re the juggernaut of BMW performance today, the reality is that there were quite a few stumbling blocks and it took many years for BMW Motorsport GmbH to establish themselves as the benchmark for German performance. Though many consider the M1 the genesis of BMW M, in fact the brand was born nearly a decade earlier with the introduction of the 3.0 CSL. The high performance E9 was built together with BMW’s competition department, a relationship which ultimately resulted in the birth of BMW’s Motorsport division. A few years later, the new entity would give birth to an equally legendary creation, the 2002 Turbo. But when it came to the first car to carry the “M” badge, it was of course the legendary M1 with its motorsport derived M88/1 double overhead cam inline six screaming in the middle of the car. You’d think this recipe carried over immediately to the sedan range, but that was not immediately the case. First, BMW produced the M535i in the E12 chassis. Though the E28 model of the same designation was mostly an appearance package, the E12 model was turned up over the rest of the range – but not with the M88; BMW instead relied on the M30 to power the M535i. Then, there was a year where nothing happened; the M1 was out of production, the E12 was replaced by the E28, and ostensibly BMW had no real performance models. That was remedied at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, where a juiced up version of the 635CSi was offered. It was labeled the M635CSi; but unlike the M535i, under the hood wasn’t the venerable M30 that powered the normal 635CSi. In its place, the Motorsport division decided to slot the M88, now with /3 designation; the result was 286 horsepower – a staggering figure at the time, considering that the contemporary Porsche 930 was considered fairly bonkers with a little over 300 horsepower and though it looked much larger, the early E24s only weighed about 200 lbs.…

1986 BMW M635CSi

It’s always a bit amusing when we stumble across listings where the seller doesn’t seem to have a full grasp of the vehicle which they are selling. In some cases, it’s a buyer’s dream – snatching a car that the seller doesn’t know the value of. In other cases, it’s just a lack of accurate information. I’ll give this seller a break in that, at the very least, they don’t offer much of a description at all on what is a very interesting 1986 BMW. Represented as a “86 M6”, enthusiasts will immediately spot many issues; it’s not a U.S. spec car, so it’s not a M6. What it is, though, is quite an interesting find in many ways, so let’s see if we can break it down:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW M635CSi on eBay

1985 BMW M635CSi

An odd reversal has occurred in the BMW world; go back even five years and the car from the 1980s – outside of the M1 – was the M6. Now, oddly, the M6 may be the best value going in Motorsport BMWs from the 1980s. What caused the turn around? Well, it certainly had little to do with the M6, and probably more to do with the inevitable acknowledgement that the more rare M5 was a great car too, and the E30 has equally gained status as – effectively – a 911 replacement. So the M6, the grandest of BMW’s grand touring lineup, has become relatively affordable for the performance level offered. The extra benefit of it’s high residual price has been that most have been kept in excellent condition overall; while it’s normal to see highly modified or ratty M3s and M5s, finding pristine M6s almost seems cliche; odd, considering the relatively low number produced. Even more affordable than the later M6s was the M6 prototype; the M635CSi. While never imported to the U.S., a fair amount made it here through the grey market long before the M products debuted in this market. With an even more potent version of the inline-6, the M1-detuned M88/3, coupled with lower weight, these early M6s were even more impressive performers than the later cars. However, unlike the later M6s, finding clean and unmolested M635CSis is more difficult as lower residual value on the grey market cars meant they were sometimes neglected or more heavily modified:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi on eBay

1984 BMW M635CSi

When it comes to rare 1980s BMWs, the M635CSi is not the rarest but it’s one that always makes me dream. There’s a look that the European-spec E24s had that just is somehow much better than the U.S. spec cars to me. They look lighter, more lithe and aggressive. It certainly helps that under the hood lies the original Motorsport GmbH engine too; unencumbered by catalysts, the M88/3 gives you the M1 experience in a much more affordable package. Lighter weight, more power, better looks – what’s not to love with the M635CSi? And this car has the double trifecta too; the above attributes coupled with one-owner history, a unique color and low miles. Put that together with some great photographs and it makes one compelling package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW M635CSi on eBay

1984 BMW M635CSi

Yesterday, Nate wrote up a last-of-the-run 1988 M6 for a budget price. He noted that $12,000 seemed like a deal for a 107K mile car with that magical S38 power plant hidden under the long hood, but concerns about maintenance costs linger with any of these complicated machines. It wouldn’t take you long if you dove into the motor to double that initial investment. Well, from last of the run to first, perhaps this 1984 M635CSi is a better proposition? It’s got a lighter curb weight, more pure European lines outside, and an even more potent engine thanks to the M88/3 pumping a few extra non-catalyzed ponies. Presented in black over black with a great set of BBS RC wheels, it sure looks fresh despite being 30 years old:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW M635CSi on eBay

1985 BMW M635CSi

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW M635CSi on eBay

Self-Serve Special – 1984 BMW M635CSi

To round up what has been an excellent week for the S38 motor here at GCFSB, I thought we’d take a look at the Euro version of this car. The M88 is a legendary motor for BMW; powering the M1, it was slightly modified with Motronic fuel injection for the M5 and M635 – where, amazingly, it produced more power than the M1 had. For a long time discarded in favor of the later M6 on U.S. shores, the grey market examples of the M635CSi offer a better power to weight ratio and cleaner European styling. Optional were then-giant 415MM TRX BBS Wheels, along with the requisite Euro-market wipers. Awesome? You bet, and one has popped up on our self-service classifieds:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW M635CSI on GCFSB Self-Serve Classifieds