BMW 635CSi: PH Fleet

Where to start? Well, the beginning seems as good a place as any, so I'll start there. The last time I wrote a Fleet column for this esteemed publication, I was driving a Citroen BX 16v; before that, a Toyota MR2, which - long-time readers will remember - had all the structural integrity of an egg carton, having formerly been filled full of newspaper and papier mache.

It's been a few years, and in the intervening time I sold the BX for... well, another BX, only a better one. And then I decided that, much though I loved them, BXs were no longer where my future lay. There are, after all, too many other itches to scratch.

One of those itches was for an old BMW. And as old BMWs are generally nailed-on investments, I figured I could borrow a bit of cash to help with the purchase, and not lose it. This opened up a new realm of possibilities. For my budget, E36 M3s, early 840s, immaculate E34 V8s and even chrome bumper E30 cabriolets all fit the bill.

But even before I was a bit of a BMW fanboy, I lusted after an E24 6 Series. In the Hollywood films of my youth, bad guys and bigshots alike drove shark-nosed BMs, and an E24 was the prettiest of the lot. When I discovered I could just about scrape my way into one - and a half-decent one - for my budget, I was sold.

As it turns out, I got preposterously lucky. I didn't just find a half-decent one, but one that had had care and attention lavished upon it for its whole life. F660DKN was bought new from Waldron Specialist Cars in Maidstone, and owned for the next 18 years by the wife of the owner of a haulage firm.

It was then sold, briefly, to London, before making its way down to Fareham, where it spent the next five years, in the loving patronage of Colin. Colin had owned four E24s before this one, and was the sort of owner who'd service it himself annually, despite only doing 2,000 miles a year in it, and who'd take apart the famously tricksy headlight wipers to get them working again when they seized up. Colin, in short, was the sort of person from whom you always dream of buying a classic car.

A deal was struck. I returned a week later to collect my very own E24. What an incredible feeling. And driving home in this, one of the most graceful coupes BMW's ever made - in my book - was even more special.

As a 1988 model, it has a mildly tweaked version of the M30 engine rated to 217hp, as fitted to the E32 7 Series, rather than the 215hp of the earlier 635s. It also had the Highline option pack ticked, giving it a fully leathered-up interior - the dash, door cards, centre console and even the sun visors are all cow hide.

And the original owner went further still, speccing a factory badge delete, sports front seats with two-stage electric heaters, cruise control, a limited-slip differential and the Motorsport accessory steering wheel. I haven't yet found an original price list from the period to verify it, but I have my suspicions that this car might have had all the options boxes ticked, with the exception of the no-cost manual. As you can imagine, then, the more I've learned about this car since I bought it, the more I've realised what a fabulous example it is.

In nearly three years of ownership, the E24 and I have had a few adventures together. Like the time, in 2015, when two friends and I decided to tick one of those life boxes and drive the Route Napoleon in our three cars - the BMW, a Jaguar XK convertible and a Renaultsport Clio 172. As you can imagine, the 635 was the consummate grand tourer on the journey down, but what really surprised was how skilfully it dealt with the twisty bits once there, even with its automatic gearbox. I was expecting a bit of a barge; instead I got a raspy straight-six sports saloon, in the finest BMW tradition.

Shortly afterwards, an even more special duty was called for: the big BMW became my wedding car. After an amazing deep clean and detail from valeter supreme Richard Tipper, aka Perfection Valet, the 635 was dressed in its Sunday best, and drove my wife and I away from the church in Brixton.

Between these two peaks, there have been few troughs. In fact, the 635 has barely blotted its copybook - although the bubbling front wings will need expensive attention at some stage soon. Other plans for the future include engine work to replace a worn camshaft (a common M30 issue), and another road trip... but more on that in the months to come.

Which means there's just one last question to ask: five years on, am I happy that I cut my losses and let the MR2 go? Hmm. Tough one.

1988 BMW 635CSi Auto 'Highline'
Run by: Alex Robbins
Bought: December 2014
Mileage at purchase: 100,895
Mileage now: 107,239
Last three years at a glance: Good fortune, fantastic memories, and no regrets. Here's to the next three!





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Comments (70) Join the discussion on the forum

  • 2 GKC 06 Jul 2017

    That is fantastic, lovely colour combination too. Loved them since my top trump days......

  • Rawwr 06 Jul 2017

    It really has one of the most distinctive, best-looking front-ends ever. Such a lovely thing.

  • dmatin 06 Jul 2017

    Great looking car - been looking for one and off for ages but never pulled the trigger yet - got to do it soon as the prices
    creep her upwards ! sounds you got a great one - enjoy !

  • PistonBroker 06 Jul 2017


    Lovely looking thing. Reminds me of flicking through car mags in the late 80s.


  • sutts 06 Jul 2017

    Lovely (I am a bit biased!).

    Was the original owner's haulage company Firmin Transport by any chance?

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