1987 BMW M635CSi E24View vehicle description
The BMW E24 6 Series was first introduced back in 1976 and remained in production until 1989, wowing buyers for thirteen years with its winning combination of high-speed civility and mid-pace agility.
The BMW M635CSi, the car you see here, was developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH and produced in tiny quantities from 1984 onwards. Utilising the legendary BMW M88 engine, an engine that first broke cover in the legendary BMW M1, it endowed the four-seater coupé with 286bhp thanks to higher compression and the extensive modifications the German firm made to the ignition and injection system.
In fact, the changes were so extensive that the new engine develops nine bhp more than the engine that was fitted to the M1 and with four valves per cylinder, the BMW M635CSi was one of the fastest four-seater cars of its era; flat-out it could reach a heady 160mph.
With typical thoroughness, BMW also ensured that every single M635CSi was fitted with an upgraded and reinforced five-speed manual gearbox for better driver control plus a revised chassis and more powerful brakes, moves that ensured it handled and stopped as well as it went.
Heck, it even moved the M-car’s larger battery to the boot, simply to improve the car’s weight distribution.
And, most of us can agree that the 6 Series coupe is one of the few classic cars that is as practical as it is beautiful; it is, to our eyes at least, as lovely to look at as any hard-edged German sports car but far easier to use as a daily driver. It’s also as happy on a twisting B-road as it is on the Autobahn or the school and supermarket run.
There are also plenty of specialists out there who can keep your 6 Series running beautifully and looking wonderful for a relatively modest sum, making it one of the better ways to ease your way into the world of the high-performance modern classic.
With just three actual keepers (more of which anon), this lovely BMW M635CSi was in the care of its last owner since October 1988. Always garaged and meticulously maintained, it’s showing just 117,500 miles on the odometer, which means, in E24 years, it’s just entered puberty.
Finished in Black (yes, that’s its name; colour code #86, BMW clearly had no time for any of this ‘Elephant Breath’ nonsense …) with a matching black leather interior, it has the desirable five-speed manual gearbox fitted.
Regularly used and maintained, it is solid, gorgeous, and drives beautifully. Being offered with a very sensible guide price, this is your chance to experience the 1980s in a way you couldn’t afford at the time.
On the Outside
We’ve had a few black cars through our hands recently, which means you might be getting tired of reading about how unforgiving the shade is, how it highlights faults, flaws, and imperfections as ruthlessly as your ex, and how even top-notch cars struggle to shine when they’re finished in a glossy black.
So, we won’t mention any of that and will restrict ourselves to pointing out how bloomin’ good this one looks.
Great panel alignment and shut lines form the canvas upon which 35 years of careful curation are writ large; say what you like about the problems inherent in choosing it but black lends the BMW coupé a menace we love; if Batman had been a yuppie, this is what he’d have driven.
The pillarless doors seal well and give a subtle elegance to the profile. The sunroof seals well too and opens and closes as it should. There are a pair of A-pillar trims too, the likes of which we last saw on a MKI Golf GTI. There’s a discreet boot spoiler as well plus a deep front dam and side skirts. This sounds like a lot of extra stuff bolted on, but the effect is to enhance the underlying shape, rather than to obliterate it.
There isn’t much chrome but then it doesn’t need it. Rest assured though, what little there is shows in a great condition.
A set of BBS alloy wheels are never a bad idea, especially not when they’re the original factory fitment, are in a sensational condition and swathed in a set of matching Michelin TRX tyres.
Sure, the lacquer is peeling off in a few places but, more importantly, experience shows that matching high-quality tyres like these are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.
Speaking of which, the need for work to tidy the old girl up is limited. With only the usual little stone chips and feather-light scratches every car collects, we can’t see anything that would worry us but, if you’re the fastidious type, then the rubber lip on the wonderfully named Elastogran Heckspoiler is starting to show its age (#196).
On the Inside
The heavily sculpted, black leather Recaro seats were de rigour back in the day and they became so for a number of very good reasons. First, they look terrific. Second, they grip well in the corners. And finally, they are hugely comfortable, which is important in a car that is capable of crossing Europe in a single bound.
These have survived very well too, with only the gentlest of creases betraying their age. They still adjust as they should, with the plethora of buttons including ones to raise and lower the headrests. Nice.
The rear seats are even better. Stunning to look at, they cup and caress even better than those in the front. The restricted legroom on offer also means they probably haven’t been used much, which explains their condition.
The door cards are simple and in great shape, and the dashboard is a model of clarity and ergonomically flawless; if cars like this teach us anything, it’s that you don’t need to stuff a cockpit full of electronics and wood veneer to create an elegant, upmarket cabin.
And it’s not just beautifully designed; everything has a heft and a quality to it that shows why BMW’s claim to be building ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ was anything but the sort of marketing hyperbole the firm comes out with these days.
Hell, even the switches for the electrically adjustable front seats are bright and clean, but then given the car was owned by the same chap for the past 34 years, we doubt there’s been much need to change its position.
Other indicators of a conscientious owner include the presence of the original torch in the glovebox and the toolkit in the boot lid.
Disappointments, therefore, are few. Apart from the sort of patination any car of this age will display a piece of trim is missing from the driver’s seat (#139 but it’s in the boot), there are some marks on the centre console (#206), and the stereo isn’t the original. A car phone cradle lurks forlornly in between the front seats (#92); bereft of an actual phone, it’s a conversation starter – as long as you only want to communicate face-to-face, obviously.
There are some scuffs to the lower corner of the driver’s door card (#166) and the headlining, especially around the sunroof, is stained (#170, #211 and #214), so it would be prudent to budget for a replacement.
Oh, and they headrest switches we are so enamoured with don’t actually work. They make a noise, so something is happening, but they don’t rise and fall.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are told that everything else works, including the air-conditioning.
The dashboard is free of warning lights, and it even shows five green lights on the service interval indicator, so you should be fine for many miles yet.
As you can see, it starts immediately, settling down to a steady tickover. It revs as it should and drives well. The battery warning light go straight out the first time the engine is revved.
The vendor drove it here, attracting the attention of a Porsche 930 Turbo along the way. It was, he laughed, like being in a CAR magazine road test of the period. It covered the 70 miles without fuss and “drove really nicely” thanks to an “engine that pulls really strongly”, adding that “it sits well, and the steering is great”.
The engine bay is good without being prissy, which means we’d understand completely if you felt the need to detail it.
The underside is pretty good too, with what looks to be the original underseal still doing its job of protecting it.
A new waterpump was fitted in December 2021 and the BMW received a full service, including new sparkplugs, a month before that.
May 2019 saw four-figure’s worth of fettling, and there are plenty of invoices for work prior to that including a stack from 1994 to 2017 from the delightfully named R & N Petheram, with BMW main dealer care prior to that.
There are lots of old MoT certificates in the history file too, plus a bunch of old tax discs, the book pack, and a hand-written list of previous owners, which reads:
• BMW demonstrator,
• Private owner from February 1987,
• Into the last keeper’s hands from October 1988 at 20,000 miles,
• Passed to his company,
• Passed to a leasing company but with him as the only driver,
• Passed back to him in 1992.
This means the 635 is really a three-owner-from-new machine, rather than the (rather low, anyway) six the V5 shows.
The BMW’s MoT certificate is valid until June 2023, and the only advisory point mentioned is the tyres, which are getting old.
The recent Vehicle History Check is clean.
What We Think
While many of us lusted after the VW Golf GTI when we were teenagers, that was only because the thought of owning a BMW 635CSi was so far-fetched as to be unbelievable; we might have dreamed of owning a Ferrari or a Lamborghini if we won the pools but the idea that an upmarket executive car like this could ever feature in our lives as everyday wheels was simply inconceivable.
But, dream no more; at a time when the sticker price of a Ford Focus can easily start with a four, cars like this are still surprisingly attainable.
How attainable? Well, we think the virtual hammer will fall somewhere between £35,000 and £45,000, and while future values cannot be guaranteed,
cars of this era tend to balance reliability and style much better than older cars; this is a car you can jump into and drive anywhere without having to navigate 1950’s brakes, 1960’s reliability, or 1970’s rust.
It’s the sweet spot in the classic car canon and, because it’s a halo car from the era when a lot of us were teenagers, demand is sure to rise as we start to have more disposal income and the time to spend it on stuff that allows us to relive the glory years.
And no-one ever dreamed of owning a Focus, did they?
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- Location: The Market, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 117400
- Chassis Number: WBAEE320800760387
- Engine: 3453
- Gearbox: Manual
- Steering position: Right-hand drive
- Colour: Black
- Interior: Black Leather
- Estimated Price: £35,000 - £45,000