The Eighties with the Sleek 6 Series

Let’s welcome our newest Automologist, KEVIN, as he expounds the BMW 6 Series…

Sometime around the mid-eighties, being a teenager and riding in a 6 Series BMW was no less than an event for me every time. This was a logical evolution of the 7 Series luxury saloon of the same era. Today, the sleek looks and the rarity have made this icon rapidly become a sought-after classic.

Following the 630 CS and 633 CSi coupés of the 1970s, the 635 CSi arrived in 1983. It went on making a statement for seven years; these were then replaced by the 850i in 1989.

Two doors sometimes mean limited interior space. This BMW, however, offered seating for four. There was ample headroom at the back but, just like most coupés, legroom was restricted.

Conceived as a grand tourer, the 6 Series was easy to live with and gratifyingly agile. The styling, with its pillared side windows, was not as tidy as we would expect, but it aged very well during its production run.

Top of the line Beemers were quick to add the then exciting trip computers, as well as other gadgets, that made the dashboard look more like aircraft controls, especially with the instrument cluster with red backlighting. White against black dial lettering still offers the best clarity while an LED strip light lets you know when it is time for service, but had to be reset by BMW dealerships; nonetheless, third party mechanics eventually figured it out.

BMW engine sizes, even in the 1980s, bore no obvious relation to the nomenclature. The 635 CSi had a 3.4-litre (3,430 cm3) straight-six with a single overhead camshaft and delivered 160 kW at 5,200 r/min. The 1970s and 1980s saw a fuel-delivery system that abolished the carburetor. For BMW, the company of choice for fuel injection was Bosch. While older models in the family still adopted the K-Jetronic and electronic L-Jetronic mechanical system, the 635CSi used the latest Motronic system that did service in many cars well into the 1990s, after the successful use of it in the 6 Series.

In these days of eight-speed autos, it is strange to think that the capable ZF automatic transmission had just three forward ratios. This gave the test team in BMW the performance figures of 9.0 seconds to 100 km/h and a top speed of 211 km/h. This was absolutely awesome for the time, but definitely slow to average by the standards of current day sports tourers. At 1,430 kg, the CSi was relatively light, especially when you consider that recent models can go up higher than 1,800 kg.

So…what to watch out for when searching for a 635 CSi: try to find one from an inland town, as it would be less prone to rust than a coastal one; stay away from cars that originated from some of our famous islands. Engine parts are available, but becoming increasingly difficult to source for. Look out for cracked plastics especially on the dashboard, rust around windscreens and door sills, as well as non-working electrics on mirrors and windows. Mechanically, the single cam inline-six engine is bulletproof and will run if simple care is given.

Overall, this is still a very desirable car and will go on being so for a very long time.

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