1 Mar 1977
BMW has a long tradition with fast four-seater touring coupes and convertibles, and the E24 6 Series is no exception.
Released on the world market in 1976, the 6 Series’ styling – complete with beautifully thin pillars, a long shark-like nose, massive glass area and three-box silhouette – had an unmistakable connection to its pretty 1968-1975 CS Coupe predecessors.
In fact the E24 Coupe was the basis for the E23 7 Series sedan released a year later.
Australians received the 6 Series in March ’77 as the 633 CSi, powered by a fuel-injected 3.2-litre single-overhead cam in-line six-cylinder engine.
Power and torque outputs were 147kW and 290Nm respectively, channelled to the rear wheels via a three-speed automatic gearbox.
Sales were limited due to the 633 CSi’s steep pricing. At the time Mercedes-Benz had carved a niche for itself with the conceptually similar SLC coupe and SL convertibles.
A rear spoiler was added to the ’79 models, but by ’80 BMW had temporarily ceased importation.
Six years later (May ’86) the E24 returned as the 635 CSi, and featured many changes as well as a significant facelift.
This time a 3.4-litre SOHC 18-valve six-cylinder engine was fitted, providing 136kW of power and 290Nm of torque, and mated to a four-speed automatic, five-speed manual or five-speed manual plus overdrive gearbox.
Equipment levels were generous: anti-lock brakes (a rarity in those days), self-levelling suspension, a limited-slip differential, air-conditioning, power steering, powered front seats, leather trim, a radio cassette player, fog lights, trip computer, alloy wheels and central locking.
The 6 Series had also received an unexpected sales boost from a top-rating television series about two detectives called “Moonlighting”, starring alongside Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis.
BMW sold the last of the 635 CSi cars sold in Australia in September 1989.
Its replacement was the E31 850i, a prohibitively expensive and high-tech 220kW/450Nm 5.0-litre V12 coupe that failed to find the same sort of audience as the lither and cheaper 6 Series.
Released in July 1990 it had arrived just as the recession of the period had really started to take hold.
In total 86,219 E24s were manufactured between 1976 and 1989.