1988 BMW 635 CSi

One of the most popular theme weeks we’ve head here at GCFSB.com was “Shark Week”, where we reviewed one of each iteration of the E24 chassis. People love the classic styling, the understated performance, and ability to gobble up miles on the highway, and the relatively low entry price. They’re all the makings for an enjoyable classic that is affordable, too! With prices of the M models and every E30 made on the rise, these E24s are still good value. While most enthusiasts lust after the M6 and the legendary S38 powerplant, the reality is that for most of us, the less complicated and less expensive to maintain M30 found in the 635 CSi among others is a smarter option. Production ended in 1989 and these cars were lightly updated mid-88 with revised headlights and bumper covers, such as we see on this sharp white 1988 model:

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Year: 1988
Model: 635 CSi
Engine: 3.5 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 113,455 mi
Price: Reserve Auction, current bid $5,600

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 635 CSi on eBay

The classic “shark” or “sharknose” body style, chassis code E24, which is often heralded as the most beautiful of all vintage BMWs, had a very long production run from 1976 until 1989. Unfortunately, the 6-series cars for the United States market were crippled with significantly reduced power in addition to ugly and bulky padded bumpers up until the 1988 model which featured revised aerodynamic “world” bumpers and an engine upgrade that boosted power up to match the European specification car. These revised and very desireable post 1988 cars were then discontinued the very next year in 1989 and virtually all the cars imported to the US were optioned with the Automatic Transmission. This car has the best and rarest possible combination, the final body style, final upgraded engine, Manual Transmission, nearly all factory options, a full service history including original manuals and window sticker, we believe this car to be in original condition and completely unmolested. The only non-original parts on the car are 16″ authentic BBS wheels, replacing the stock TRX wheels which are no longer viable (the TRX specification tires are no longer in production).

Originally purchased in Hollywood California by a BMW collector who used it as his driver before passing it on to another BMW collector in New Mexico, this car has been in the best of hands its whole life from new. Of the 47 Alpine White 635csi’s with the Lotus White leather interior, only 11 of these cars had manual transmissions. This may be the only surviving one, and it is in pristine condition, with only minor flaws which I will note in detail. Being a Southwestern car, it has absolutely no body rust of any kind, the underbody coating is completely intact.

1988 BMW 635CSi, Alpine White over Lotus White
– Full leather interior, all seats, center console, headliner, door cards and handles, dash underside, rear speaker shelf leather wrapped
– Power seats with 3 position memory, power sunroof, power windows, cruise control
– Cold air conditioning (I do not know whether it is R12 or R134, but it works!)
– M30B35 3.5L Straight 6-cylinder engine with Motronic Fuel Injection, 221HP and 225LB-FT Torque
– Getrag 260 5-speed Manual Transmission
– Original BMW stereo, speakers, power antenna fully functioning, even BMW tape deck cleaner
– All features, lights, buttons, inside and out are fully functioning properly
– Heavy duty floormats
– BBS chrome 16″ wheels with nice 225/55/16 tires
– Rear air conditioning and drink cooler works great
– Suspension has been updated with Bilstein shock absorbers

This car runs and drives like you would expect it to as new in 1988, it runs nice and smooth, the engine purrs and pulls hard to redline, the suspension soaks up road imperfections as it should in a world-class touring car.

Noted Imperfections:
– Very small clearcoat loss (about quarter sized) driver’s side fender near base of windshield
– Shift knob is loose
– Scuffed paint on driver’s side front fender top edge
– Trunk can get stuck if opened too far
– Driver’s side interior door handle shows slight wear and is pulling away from door card slightly
– Center console leather has two small imperfections
– There are a two slight depressions in the roof, and one in the hood, very hard to see unless you look, easy to correct
– The exhaust has a broken hangar and the muffler is somewhat rusty, it does not leak
– A metal bracket attached to the front driver’s side frame rail, that appears to be an attachment point for an engine undertray is bent
– Rubber seals around outer door handles need replacement
– I cannot discern whether the memory function on the power seats work, all power functions work great however
– Slight scuff on driver’s side rear bumper

Contact:
My name is Ian, and I am here to help you with your purchase. Do you have any questions about the vehicle? Call my direct line at (505) 449-1316 or email me at iriela@powerfordnm.com.

This sales account is brand new, and as such we realize that we have yet to build up a large background of positive reviews on eBay. Our sales team is well versed in eBay auctions however, and we will treat all bidders with the same care and respect we treat all our customers at Power Ford. Please feel free to contact us, we are here to address your concerns and provide you with customer service that is second to none!

I have a complete album with 100 pictures including underbody and all detail shots of imperfections in this web album: Photo Album. Listed below are some pictures of the car as it is right now. Some minor defects in the white paint were too difficult for the camera to pick up and are hard to detect even by human eye and shots are not included.

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For a dealer, this car seems to be very honestly presented, which if you follow auctions is fairly remarkable. The seller notes the small details that are imperfections on the car, and seems to actually know what it is, too – a bit of a rarity. As the seller notes, the later cars are hard to find with a manual transmission. This car has the extended leather option like the M cars, and it looks to be in fantastic condition. Also rare for an Ebay dealer are all of the records which come with the car, making this the one to look at seriously. Downside? Well, the 528i spec wheels in chrome fit the Hollywood origins, but not the car. That said, wheels are a pretty easy fix and generally an individual item anyway, and while I’m not a fan of those wheels on this car it certainly wouldn’t stop the sale for me.

Values of these 6s have been all over the map as of late – some M6s pushing $20,000 plus for nice examples, but some 635s failing to sell well under $10,000. As the last of the breed and equipped with a manual condition, with all records and in good condition, this is the most valuable of the non-M models currently, and I would expect it to be priced between $10,000 – $12,000 depending on interest. I do hope that this dealer receives positive feedback for their ad print as I really think they advertised the car the way we all like to see it. It’s hard to believe, but in most states around me, this car could be registered as an antique and enjoyed on the weekends and at shows – rather than purchase an older car that has more needs, this might be a smart way to have a great looking and reliable weekender!

-Carter

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7 Comments

  1. Very nice. Unfortunately the miles are too high for my taste.
    Looking for an E24 M6 with very low miles…

  2. It is a great looking car and pretty rare to see one in this condition these days. I wouldn’t worry about the miles on this motor, they last a very long time. For my use, I prefer the 635 over the M6. I’d ballpark this car around $10k-$11k; I wonder where the reserve is set. I also agree that the ad copy is refreshingly honest, but I do have some nits to pick.

    First, when a flaw is described followed by the comment “easy to fix,” my next thought is “if it is so easy to fix, why haven’t you already done it?” Every car dealer has a PDR guy and a paint touch up guy they use, so why don’t they go ahead and address these issues? BTW, the loose shift knob is because the tabs inside the knob are broken and the knob will need replacement – zero labor involved, only the cost of whatever version is picked.

    Second, if the car does actually have all service records since new, the only thing needed to figure out if the A/C system has been converted to R-134 is to look through the records. Plus, most cars that have been converted to R-134 will have a sticker stating such placed on the compressor.

  3. BMW clearcoat does not fail by peeling. It simply crazes — looks like it was washed with brillo — and then fails. Any would-be buyer of this car should be on the lookout for undisclosed paint and bodywork. I am of the view that quality paint and bodywork on an older car is not a big deal, IF the work was done correctly and the car wasn’t rolled down a hill, but at the same time anyone who has been around 80s BMWs understands how the paints fail, and when you see something like this a flag should be raised.

  4. Raymond, I have to respectfully disagree – there is a Topaz Blue E46 323 not a block from my house that has serious clearcoat delamination on the roof, hood and trunklid, along with the pillars. It’s a southern car, and while I suppose it could have been repainted it’s not the only BMW I’ve seen with clearcoat issues – including my father’s blue 1985 635CSi, which also had clearcoat peeling issues when he bought it. I believe that car was Artic Blue. That car, prior to his ownership, had not undergone any body work that we were able to find.

  5. Carter,
    The paints on the new BMWs are very different from what they used in the 80s, so while I believe you with respect to an E46, I would be very surprised, more like shocked, to see an 80s BMW paint fail in that manner. To some degree, we also might be thinking of different things when we say “peel” — peel in the sense that the clear coat fails and recedes, yes that could be peel of the factory paint. What I thought the seller meant by peel here, is actual physical peel over a relatively small spot, which is not how the BMW 80s factory paints peel. With your dad’s car, I am sure the “peeling” was widespread over all the top horizontal surfaces, and not just one spot. That may be the explanation of how we are referring to the same thing with different words.

  6. Actually, from memory (it’s been 20 years, amazingly), the clearcoat issues were spotty. There were small areas on the hood, roof and trunk where the clearcoat had hazed, chipped and peeled off. It was not widespread like the E46 I speak of. The largest spot was the size of a tennis ball, the other spots were smaller. Of course, again, that was 20 years ago, and left to its own devices I’m sure the top of the car would now be “Frozen Artic Blue”.

  7. On my ’79 528i (Rubinrot Metallic), the clear coat would come off in chunks, but only from the top surfaces. Peeling would be the best way I could describe it. I could find no evidence that the car had been repainted so I assume it was original paint.

    Unfortunately in my case that is what happens when you buy a car that has been garaged for 13 years and you park it outside because you don’t have a garage…

    In any case, I have a paint meter I carry with me when I check out a car.

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