BMW 635CSi: PH Fleet


'March', I thought. 'I'll get the 6 Series back on the road in March.' Doing so would allow me plenty of time to get the car ready for its big trip later this year and, of course, to maximum my time with the car during the summer months.

So I duly booked the BMW in for March 1st. And we all know how that turned out. One Beast from the East meant I'd sooner have nailed my scrotum to a motorway-bound gritter truck than take the BMW out.

A month later, and time for round two. This time, the weather was far more amenable, so there was no issue getting around to Turner Automotive in Twickenham, not just to get the car back on the road, but also to get it ready for this year's adventure.


The BMW was last in Europe a couple of years back, when a few mates and I took it down to drive the Route Napoleon. Turns out my then-girlfriend, now wife, was a little envious of such a fab trip, and rather fancied seeing what all the fuss was about. I didn't need any more of an excuse to suggest we do it again, together. A plan was hatched. And with the aid of some alcohol, as these things do, the plan grew, first to take in the Riviera and the south coast - and then to bimble back along the Atlantic. Then my folks got wind of it, and asked if they could tag along for the first leg down to Provence in their 8 Series. Who were we to refuse?

The stage is set, then, for another magnificent grand tour in my faithful old grand tourer - only this one looks like it'll be longer and more demanding than anything I've done in the 6 Series before. With that in mind, I asked Turners to give it a proper check-over and get it ready for big miles, hot temperatures, mountain switchbacks and French city traffic.

I have to take a moment here to say thanks to Barrie at Turners, and if this sounds like a plug, it is - but only because I reckon he's worth recommending. As far as I can tell, I've had no preferential treatment as a journo, and if you don't believe me, Turners' Google reviews tell their own story. Barrie's a BMW master technician formerly attached to the company's UK press and heritage fleets, and believes in reputation through good work above all else. What's more, he has an E24 of his own, currently undergoing restoration, and his disarming honesty and methodical professionalism, together with his obvious passion for my car, mean I won't take it anywhere else.


The 6 Series was at Turners for three weeks, during which time Barrie went through it with a fine-toothed comb. A few bits were deemed non-urgent and left, but the essential stuff was done; a smattering of suspension bushes, the front discs and pads, a new battery, a couple of sensors, the dizzy cap and rotor arm, fluid changes, belt changes, and of course, a service and MOT, the latter of which I'm pleased to relate was passed with no advisories. I also had a new electric aerial fitted, to replace the old bent one - something I've been meaning to do for ages - and a bit of extra security, as the car will have to be left in hotel car parks around France for two weeks.

As you can imagine, that little lot didn't come cheap - but as the car's been remarkably trouble-free since I bought it, requiring just an alternator and some engine mounts apart from the usual maintenance in that time, I feel like it's owed a big bill. And as you might expect, it now drives like a different car. I'd had a sneaking suspicion it had grown a bit wobbly in the last few months of last year, and that's been borne out by the state of some of the bushes that came out of it - and indeed, the way it's now so much tauter and crisper.

Not only that, but new fluid means the gearbox changes sweetly and smoothly, rather than holding onto ratios occasionally like it used to, while the electric aerial tucking away as it should brings me a sense of satisfaction to replace my mild irritation each time I saw the old one sticking out. Worth the outlay, then? Definitely. And now we can depart for France safe in the knowledge that the BM is about as ready as she'll ever be. I'll bring you the full story of the trip next time around.


FACT SHEET

Car: 1988 BMW 635CSi Auto 'Highline'
Run by: Alex Robbins
Bought: December 2014
Mileage at purchase: 100,895
Mileage now: 108,312
Last month at a glance: With all the niggles taken care of, the big Six is ready for its next adventure

Previous updates:

Hello to one hell of a 6 Series
Going grand touring in a proper old grand tourer
635CSi vs M635CSi

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (10) Join the discussion on the forum

  • si_xsi 17 May 2018

    The perfect car for the perfect trip! I've taken my Golf R32 on several holidays to Provence and back and all around southern France. Next time I would like to extend the journey to the Italian lakes and a few of the other mountain passes and back via Germany. The difficulty is taking enough time off work!

    Getting a car ready for such a trip just adds to the excitement. I would love to do the same trip it in a modern classic one day.

    Enjoy, looking forward to the follow up review and photos. Just watch out for those crazy French bumper car parking antics! If you get a chance the Verdon Gorge is pretty spectacular.

  • skylarking808 17 May 2018

    Glad the vintage Beemer is running well and worth the recent outlay. It is certainly a vehicle I still lust after.

    Always surprising what some fresh bushes do to the handling and feel of an older BMW.

  • HardMiles 17 May 2018

    Still miss my e24. Best looking car around, every time I see one on the road I get a fizzy feeling! :-)

    Alex, any maps / links to the route & accommodation? I’ve got my first GT car since the 635csi in the shape of an XKR & the wife fancies a burn around Europe in it! :-)

  • Scrof 17 May 2018

    HardMiles said:
    Still miss my e24. Best looking car around, every time I see one on the road I get a fizzy feeling! :-)

    Alex, any maps / links to the route & accommodation? I’ve got my first GT car since the 635csi in the shape of an XKR & the wife fancies a burn around Europe in it! :-)
    Sounds like a plan to me! Route plan has too many stops to show on one map (there's a limit to the amount Google allows) but roughly speaking it runs: Calais - Dijon - Grenoble - Cannes (via Route Napoleon) - Montpellier - Lourdes - Bordeaux - La Rochelle - Saumur (through the Loire Valley) - St Malo - Rouen - Calais.

    Lots of motorways in there but bits I'd advise you include are the D954 around Lac Serre Poncon and D559 along the Riviera. The former's my favourite bit of road I've ever tackled, while the latter is the very opposite - slow and a little traffic-filled in places, but with spectacular views as it clings to the coastline. We're mainly staying in Ibises to make it work financially but they're good for cheap rooms with garage parking. Watch out for Crit'Air schemes coming in in quite a few city centres -- older cars aren't allowed point blank, at any time, so keep them in mind when choosing your route. (We wanted to visit Paris but can't in a car as old as the BMW!)


  • Futse 17 May 2018

    Scrof said:
    Sounds like a plan to me! Route plan has too many stops to show on one map (there's a limit to the amount Google allows) but roughly speaking it runs: Calais - Dijon - Grenoble - Cannes (via Route Napoleon) - Montpellier - Lourdes - Bordeaux - La Rochelle - Saumur (through the Loire Valley) - St Malo - Rouen - Calais.
    Did about that route a couple of years ago - from Belgium - Lille - Reims - Dijon - Draguignan - Bordeaux - La Rochelle - St Malo and back to Belgium. Was in a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso though, unfortunately ;-) But France is great, beautiful cities, great history, fantastic nature. I especially liked La Rochelle (take a boat trip there!) and was pleasantly surprised by Bordeaux.

    Anyway, love the BMW :-) Always on my shortlist

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