This past weekend we finally saw a break in Chiberia’s bitter, grey winter. The sun came out for the first time in weeks and the temperature ticked above freezing….alright! We took this opportunity to stretch the legs of two cars that have been taunting us from the showroom, our ‘88 M3 and ‘84 Euro 635csi.
First off, a bit of a bio on these two particular cars. We took delivery of the M3 back in late October, so luckily we had a couple of weeks of good weather before the car was confined to climate-controlled hibernation for the winter. Just a few days after getting the car, we drove it, along with our ‘91 318is, to the Chicago area’s finest Cars & Coffee event, FuelFed. The Diamond Schwarz Metallic M3 was a hit, flanked by its Brilliantrot baby brother. Having the two cars side-by-side really showed off the M3’s racecar-for-the-street appearance, its flared out, boxy fenders looking more striking than ever.
This particular M3, though mint, has actually covered over 135,000 miles over the course of its thirty-year life. After getting behind the wheel and carving down some windy roads, it’s not hard to tell why this car has seen so much use. The e30 M3 gets a ton of hype in the classic car community as a “drivers’ car”, almost so much so that it’d be impossible to live up to, but it absolutely does. The car feels very alive and communicative; the driving experience is visceral and involved. The combination of the eager, high-revving S14 and the subtle yet no-nonsense exhaust note begs the driver to keep the gear low and the tach high. It’s easy to see why the e30 M3 was, and always has been, such a weapon on-track. The e30 M3 is one of the most respected road racing cars of all time, with an extremely impressive resume throughout the late 1980s. Between 1987 and 1988, the e30 M3 won the World Touring Car Championship, the European Touring Car Championship, the British Touring Car Championship, the Italian Touring Car Championship, the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), the Australian Touring Car Championship, and numerous other road-racing victories at the most grueling of circuits. And these championship titles weren’t in just any run-of-the-mill racing series; 80s touring car racing is widely considered to be some of the most competitive, no-holds-barred, wheel-to-wheel racing off all time.
Now, back to this past weekend’s drive. The e30 M3 was in great company, tailed by our newly-acquired ‘84 Euro 635csi. This shark-nose 6er is a seriously special example, a true time-capsule. We purchased the car from the original owner, who filled us in on every detail of the car’s history. He had imported the car new as a young executive living in Northern California. He drove the car for only a few years, racking up 50,000 miles, before moving to Chicago and putting the car in a collector car garage, where it was kept in climate-controlled storage underneath a car cover. There it sat. In 2014, after 25 years of sitting, the owner received a call from the storage facility; they were closing up shop and needed the car gone. The owner decided that instead of trailering the car home he’d send it straight to a local BMW specialist, where he commissioned a complete mechanical rebuild. The car was entirely gone through, nearly every mechanical component replaced with a new OEM part. The receipt for the job, which totals north of $30k, is a five-page parts list, in 12 point font. The car sure feels like new; getting out of the M3 and into the 635csi makes you think long and hard about which one you’d rather hold onto.
The 635csi, while maybe not quite as peppy as the M3, is no slouch. The 635csi saw racing success throughout the 1980s as well, having won the European Touring Car Championship in 1981, 1983, and 1986, in addition to the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in 1984, and the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1985. The big “shark-nose” coupe was seriously intimidating dressed in motorsports livery.
BMW was churning out home run after home run throughout the 1980s; from the docile little e21 to the fire-breathing M1 Procar, BMW really could do no wrong. Their economy cars sold, and their racing cars took home championship after championship. These cars have withstood the test of time from both an aesthetic and mechanical standpoint. The boxy lines of 80s BMWs have aged very well, with the more limited-production models gaining serious traction in the collector car market in recent years. Just five years ago a fairly well-sorted e30 M3 was a $20k car; today that same car is fetching twice as much. The same can be said about the e28 M5 of the same vintage. But the best part of these cars that come up for sale isn’t just the sharp looks, it’s the hilariously high odometer readings. It seems as though 100,000 miles constitutes “low, low miles”, while 200,000 is “just outside the break-in period”. It pains me to use this cliché, but they truly don’t build ‘em like they used to.
Written by: Jake DePierro
For more 80s BMW goodness, see the following videos of these cars in race trim at full chat:
Thanks to Youtuber MPZracevideo for the footage!