If there is one model in the history of BMW M that represents its most significant era, it is the BMW M635CSi. In 1984, the four-seater continued the concept of high-performance 6-cylinder in-line engines that the legendary BMW M1 had established just a few years earlier. But like no other BMW M model before it, it embodied the ultimate symbiosis of luxury and high-performance. Considered avant-garde back then, today its typical M characteristics make it a sought-after classic.
5 POWERFUL FACTS:
AN EIGHTIES ICON.
THE DESIGN: CONTEMPORARY YET TIMELESS.
Responsible for the BMW M635CSi progressive and timeless exterior design – and an absolute master in his field – is a name that should be familiar to every automobile enthusiast: Paul Bracq. The signature aesthetic of the then BMW chief designer is also unmistakable in the interior. Here, Bracq developed the concept of the driver-facing dashboard more effectively than had been seen in any previous series model.
The powerful sports coupé combines clear lines and a reduced form with a few deliberately chosen accents, creating a combination of accentuated sportiness and classic elegance that is still unrivalled in the eyes of many fans to this day. The most striking features are the tapered front end with its prominently positioned signature BMW kidney grille, and a front spoiler that extends down closer to the road surface.
TECHNOLOGY IN THE PURSUIT OF PROGRESS.
Technologically, too, the first 6 Series was unrivalled, with constant developments and innovations ensuring it stayed at the top for its entire construction period. While engineers relied on the proven carburettor engines for the first models, in later years only engines with intake-manifold injection were fitted under the bonnet. Exhaust gas purification and, in particular, the use of catalytic converters became increasingly important. In addition, modern electronics increasingly found their way into the four-seater coupé.
BIRTH OF A SPORTS CAR.
BMW M635CSi: from racing to series production.
The BMW 6 Series E24 featured an inline 6-cylinder M30 engine with capacities of 2.8 to 3.5 litres. The only exception: the BMW M635CSi, developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH and produced in small quantities from 1984 onwards. Here, the legendary BMW M88 engine – whose first variant was used in the BMW M1, the ancestor of every BMW M built to date – ensured superior propulsion. The M635CSi’s high-performance engine drew up to 286 hp, thanks to higher compression and modifications to the ignition and injection system. This was nine hp more than the standard version of the M1, from just under 3.5 litres of displacement, and unlike the M30, it featured four instead of two valves per cylinder. Altogether, it made the BMW M635CSi one of the fastest four-seater models of its time.
SUCCESS IN MOTORSPORT.
Versions of the BMW 6 Series specially prepared for racing were another big hit, and many motorsport fans will remember its successes at various 24-hour races. The 635CSi celebrated victories in the 1983, 1985 and 1986 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as part of the European Touring Car Championship (winning the overall championship in 1981, 1983 and 1986). This is also the race that its legitimate successor, the BMW M6 GT3, would go on to win exactly 30 years after the 635CSi final victory there.
BMW 6 Series (E24) models also won the 1984 and 1985 Nürburgring 24 Hours and scored other significant titles, such as Volker Strycek’s overall victory at the inaugural German Production Car Championship – the predecessor to the DTM touring car series – in 1984. In addition, the cars collected titles in the Japanese and Australian touring car championships.