No time for dawdling, then. And while, as I've said, I've struggled in vain to link our three cars in some way, it proved impossible, as you'd struggle to find a more disparate trio of enthusiast motors. Lining up alongside the BMW on the sunny September morning we departed were best man George's Jaguar XK drop-top, and a Renault Clio 172 owned by mutual friend and snapper Tom, whose work you'll have seen on these pages before.
Indeed, throughout the first day's motorway trudge down to Grenoble, the differences between the three came into sharp focus. With the top down, the Jag purred along effortlessly, leaving George to pose, while the Clio bounced Tom around noisily. And the BMW? It was sublime, sunroof open and creamy-smooth six humming along, earning admiring looks from passengers in passing cars; not quite as smooth as the Jag, but twice as classy.
The BMW was the biggest surprise, though. While its weight was undeniable, BMW's late-80s attention to suspension tuning was clear; the big Six rolled in corners to a certain point, for sure, but then it seemed to check itself, whereupon I found you could squeeze on the power progressively and lean on the grip of the chunky outer tyres to gain speed through the corner without upsetting the tail. In this way, it was capable of covering ground at quite an indecent rate, aided ably by the talkative, wonderfully progressive steering. Not to mention the gearbox's switchable '3-2-1' mode, which locks it into whichever gear you select using the shifter, and prevents it from changing up or down. Used in anger, this allows you to drive it much like a manual, albeit shifting a second or two earlier in anticipation of the slower change.
All three cars were outshone by the scenery, mind you. We deviated from the Route to take in the winding roads running down the banks of Lac de Serre-Poncon, its waters a barely believable shade of aquamarine and hemmed by steep slopes swathed in deep-pile greenery. From there, it was an equally breathtaking run along sinewy roads clinging to leafy hillsides to Digne, and then on via Castellane and Grasse to Nice, the sun growing hotter and the landscape drier and scrubbier as the miles passed.
The following day's bimble along the coast through Monaco was a delight and passed without a hitch. Then, after a night in San Remo, we headed back over the mountains, bumping into a Cars & Coffee meet at Mont Cenis, our now fly-spattered cars comprehensively outclassed by the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Alpine A110, and countless other bits of exotica that had turned up.
From there we stopped in Annecy, whose riverside old-town and lake-edge location make it one of France's nicest towns, for my money; and then it was home via another motorway stint and the obligatory stop at the old grand prix pits at Reims, the BMW again proving its grand touring cred with its smooth ride and effortless engine. It arrived back in the UK having put not one foot wrong, and neither has it done since, wearing those 2,000 miles of relatively hard driving remarkably lightly for a car just the right side of 30 years old.
[Apologies for the delay in getting this featured, Alex delivered the words in good time and we've simply slacked off in uploading - more to follow soon! MB]
Car: 1988 BMW 635CSi Auto 'Highline'
Run by: Alex Robbins
Bought: December 2014
Mileage at purchase: 100,895
Mileage now: 107,401
Last two months at a glance: Alex reminisces about the BMW's first big adventure - and looks forward to the next
Hello to one hell of a 6 Series