One of the things I love the most about the Euro M cars is their colors. While the bulk of the US cars boiled down to just a few shades, in Europe you could really get some treats. Case in point is today’s Burgundy Red Metallic (199) ’85. This color was only available on pre-facelift European models (5511, 5531, and 5532) and sufficed to say is quite rare. It looks great, especially over the white interior and is accented by some flashy 17″ BBS Style 5s with throwback Motorsport-logo center caps:
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Tag: Euro BMW
The late 80s and early 90s was a great time to be a fan of German cars, as each manufacturer advanced in leaps and bounds. Volkswagen had the succession of 16V, supercharged, and then VR6 engines. Porsche launched the supercar 959 and beefed up the 911, 944 Turbo and then 968, and the 928 GTS. Mercedes-Benz had the audacity to replace the stalwart R107 with the R129, launched the W124, W201, and finally the W140 and generally remained the benchmark of the world. Audi’s success with the Quattro proliferated the model range, and the company that dared to be different ended the 80s with the wild quad-cam all-wheel drive V8 quattro and introduced the S and RS model ranges in the 90s.
BMW was not to be outdone. While the M brand had its roots in the 70s, it was really the 80s where they stretched their legs; the introduction of the definitive sports sedan and coupes of the M3, M5, and M6 still have repercussions today. But they weren’t about to let the go-to W126 and the upstart V8 quattro have all the large-executive limelight. The E23 had been an interesting alternative all along, and it was quite advanced in many ways. But it was its successor, the E32, that really took BMW to the world stage in the large executive market. And the top-tier model was nothing to sneeze at. Gone was turbo power, and in its place BMW sistered two of their M20 inline-sixes together on a common crank, creating the M70 – a 5.0-liter V12 with an aluminum block and the best part of 300 horsepower. This was 1987, mind you, and that was still a pretty big number. Complex, expensive, and not without fault, the 750iL generated a lot of headlines and more than a few headaches for the other brands and its owners. Only available as a long-wheelbase sedan in the US, the E32 750 was offered in short-wheelbase configuration in Europe – and it just so happens one is for sale right now in the US:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: Euro 1988 BMW 750i on eBay1 Comment
Sometimes, basic can be cool. Case in point – today’s E36 Touring. This is about as basic as they came; powered by the M43 1.8 with 114 horsepower, the car has cloth seats, no sunroof, and manual crank rear windows. This is a 1996 BMW, right? In all seriousness, that makes it cooler today. And, in fact, it has some nice optional equipment – heated front seats, air conditioning, a sport steering wheel – even body-color bumpers were optional on the low-end E36s in Europe, and this one has them. Speaking of color, it’s a great one – Montreal Blue Metallic, and even the basic cloth has a neat pattern. Other Euro-slick items like adjustable headlight control and a European cluster top it off, and it’s got alloy wheels too. And it’s in the US already! This means it should cost an arm and a leg, right?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 318i Touring on eBayComments closed
The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with the potent performance of the M106 and sprinkle in some sport seats and a 5-speed manual from an E28, and there’s a lot to like here – though today’s car is pretty firmly in “project” status:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: Euro 1983 BMW 745i 5-Speed on eBay2 Comments
Following up on the E31, it seems smart to look at its predecessor. As iconic designs go, the E24 has to rank pretty high on most German car enthusiasts’ lists. The lines are pure and classic – a long hood line with a chiseled front end, delicate and subtle wheel arches, a sweeping greenhouse and a flowing trunk line. It just looks right – the front of the E9 that it succeeded was equally as classic, but I have always felt that the back of the 6-Series was prettier than the car it replaced. It took elements of some classic BMW designs that preceded it and incorporated them flawlessly with updates for a new time. By 1970s standards, it was a very clean design – consider what was coming out of Detroit during this time period, and you’ll understand why the 6 still looked reasonably fresh a decade on in the 1980s. But for my money, the prettiest of the 6s are the early Euro cars, unencumbered by the DOT bumpers. Early on, though, the 6s suffered from not much performance – the engine lineup was effectively carried over from the previous E9 platform. That was solved in 1978 with the launch of the 218 horsepower 635CSi; a 5-speed transmission, deeper airdam, and black rubber rear spoiler with model designation indicated the higher performance of this model. The 635 officially wouldn’t come to U.S. shores until much later in 1984 with the E28 updates in place, but for a time this was the highest-performance BMW coupe you could get. Finding early examples that are still in prime shape is quite tough these days, but there’s a lovely example on eBay today in Pennsylvania: