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1982 BMW 633CSi: Bavarian Shark Bargain in Boise

1982 BMW 633CSi - 1

To be honest, this car is in Idaho Falls, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I love the BMW E24 6-series – always have. I first became acquainted with them when my Dad pointed them out to me, waxing about how he didn’t care for the taillight design. It’s the little things, right? Decades later I had the chance to meet and interview the car’s original designer, Frenchman Paul Bracq, who walked me through his thought processes: a modern replacement for the pretty E9 coupe, containing many of the E9’s design elements but sleeker and hearkening to Bracq’s own 1972 BMW Turbo concept car – especially in the hood and grille. In any case, the E24 is a car I’ve long lusted for, in all versions, but have never had the stars align just right to buy. This U.S. spec car appears clean, and represents a lot of car for the low $2,500 asking price (which can be even lower if you don’t want the wheels!).

1982 BMW 633CSi - 2

So just what is it about the E24 that makes it appeal? To me, it’s a combination of the big greenhouse with slim pillars, the exaggerated ship’s prow nose, the driver-oriented dash and console, and the delicious venerable BMW M30 “big six” motor mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Don’t get me wrong: this is a big, heavy car but it pulls like, well, a big six Bimmer. These days, the design looks a little old, especially in the pre-facelift/no spoiler version, but there is a trade-off. At the same time the exterior was freshened, BMW also updated the car’s E12 5-series based chassis to the new E28’s. At the time it was lauded as a great move, improving handling and road manners. The problem, however, is that the sensitive, bushing-riddled E28 chassis is not the easiest to keep happy especially compared with the simpler E12 version. As one who hates shimmies and shakes (and worked tirelessly to chase these demons out of an E28), I’ll take the earlier version, thankyouverymuch.

1982 BMW 633CSi - 3

The 6er’s interior does show its age somewhat in general design, but then just about anything these days without nav, satellite radio, and digital automatic climate control looks old – or as I prefer to think of it: Classic. The dash is tall, and the gauges large and legible. A lot of these tended to crack, and this one appears no different. That said, how hard could it be to find a good used one with the interwebs at your fingertips? Putting it in may be a challenge, but Jonathan here at TTS would surely help. At least I know he’s done the job in E3s and E12s. Could this really be much different? The front seats appear in reasonably good condition, and hopefully the sculpted rears are as well. Since the seller doesn’t reference the AC system, chances are it doesn’t work. It’s a marginal system at best, so that may not be the end of the world. Besides, it appears that the sunroof and windows open.

1982 BMW 633CSi - 4

As mentioned previously, we are fans of BMW’s M30 inline-six cylinder motor. BMW used the motor, in varying forms, for about 25 years, culminating in the E32 and E34 7- and 5-series. Many enthusiasts have swapped later motors into earlier cars, and it isn’t rocket science once you have the general hang of it and know what you need to make things fit and work together. This car, thankfully, already has the reliable Bosch Motronic fuel injection system as opposed to carbs or the earlier and less-friendly L-Jetronic system, so driveability should be good. The manual transmissions in these cars are quite robust, and even though the throws are long by modern standards, they are positive and easy to use – not at all vague like many of their German contemporaries.

1982 BMW 633CSi - 5
Svelte, classic, affordable coupes are becoming fewer and farther between, and as years pass will likely creep up in value. These were not the ultimate 6ers, that was a role left to the 286hp M6. But these mid-series 633s have the earlier chassis combined with the later motor, and that makes them interesting as drivers. Parts are mostly available, so a driving restoration is not out of the question. However, at this cars low entry price we’d be tempted to just drive it and enjoy it.

3 thoughts on “1982 BMW 633CSi: Bavarian Shark Bargain in Boise Leave a comment

  1. You didn’t say anything about the back seats… They have to be one of the best things about the Shark. My boys would love it. I’ve looked into buying one, but find the price of a clean car all over the map. Or its never a good time for me. $2,500 looks like a good deal. You could drive it to California and sell it for $5,000 all day. They have a good following out hear.

  2. Well, having never owned a BMW of any sort, (lots of Porsches), I thought it about time to mess with one and I find the Shark the most handsome. So I made the journey to Idaho and bought this car you’ve noted from a great guy named Tedd. Funny, I found your website after returning home, though your thoughts would surely have further convinced me to make the 8 hour drive! He had done thousands of dollars of work on it and I’m still trying to figure out why he passed it on. Shifts and brakes flawlessly, fun “sedan” handling, and enough power to make it feel sporty. No corrosion, pretty black paint, super tight suspension, and a decent original interior; with dash cracks… Everything works right down to the marginal AC system, and I drive it daily. Its first job, though, was to give my motorhead 15 year old daughter 5 speed lessons! Now I’m worried about being able to keep it..

  3. This was my first BMW and now I still have 3 including a 325ix and E36 325is. Mechanical parts are pretty easy to find and mechanicals from the 5 and 7 series are shared. The trim items are another story, so look skip those that need significant interior needs. I you find them in driver condition they can be great fun as long as your expections are reasonable. Restoring one would be quite expensive. I am glad Chris is using much more than I was.

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