2004 BMW 645Ci E64
Many have forgotten about the early E64 645Ci – the expensive V8 6 Series Convertible that arrived in explosive style dividing the opinions of passionate BMW fans the world over. Words: Simon Jackson Photography: Jason Dodd.
In contemporary times we are accustomed to the established evolutionary nature of vehicle designations. A uniquely styled 3 Series will follow the previous version like night follows day. That the next X5 could look absolutely nothing like its forebear and be powered not by internal combustion but magic beans would likely not surprise. In an automotive landscape where the Ford Mustang can be an SUV-style crossover largely anything is possible. But we haven’t long been so blasé.
Cast your minds back to 2003, the X3 has only just arrived, the 1 Series is a year away from joining BMW’s model line up – things looked a bit different to today. Most cars from other manufacturers of the era played it pretty safe in the styling stakes too, so an unusual looking car wearing a traditional model name was far from the norm. Enter a BMW bombshell. Not only did the E63/64 of 2003 revive the 6 Series nameplate, but it did so with a car that did everything but play it safe – to say that this new generation 6 Series was rather like Marmite at launch is fair. The bold new look of the second-generation 6 Series meant the motoring press and buying public alike either loved or loathed its brave aesthetic – there was seemingly no in-between.
Today’s buyer can pick up a E64 645Ci from around £5000...
Unusually, both Coupé and Convertible versions of the first offering – the 645Ci – were available immediately, driven by the press in late 2003 and in UK showrooms in spring 2004. At their hearts the 645Ci models boasted the 4.4-litre Valvetronic V8 borrowed from the 745i of the time, and power was suitable impressive for the period – 333hp with a torque peak figure of 332lb ft. This enabled the 0-62mph dash to be competed in 5.6-seconds (manual) or 5.8-second (automatic), with an electronically limited top speed of 155mph and a perhaps surprisingly decent return of 25.9mpg. Those numbers were aided by extensive use of lightweight materials; aluminium bonnet, doors and chassis components, plastic front wings and boot lid. While the styling was new under the skin this 6 Series pinched more than its V8 engine from elsewhere in the BMW range.
Much of the technology came from the E60 5 Series and E65 7 Series.
In 2004 £55,000 was a lot of money to spend on a car, that was the sticker price of the new Convertible Six, yet few paid that for most versions were optioned-up to their eyeballs with extras over and above the extensive list of standard equipment – read 18-inch alloys, sports suspension, Bi-Xenon headlights and more. Add in an automatic gearbox (£1350), Active steering (£675), Dynamic Drive (£1755), TV (£610) and more – as many did – and these quickly became very expensive BMWs. And yet, almost all were snapped-up before they even made landfall in the UK. Subsequent E63/64 models followed in the tyre tracks of their forebears, and – such is the way of BMW model evolution – in October 2005 the 645Ci was superseded in came the 650i, its 367bhp 4.8-litre Valvetronic V8 engine (N62) borrowed from the 750i E65. A facelift version arrived in 2007 and production ceased but a few years later and today I’d say it’s the range-topping V10 M6 model – released in 2005 in both Coupé and Convertible guises – that are best remembered and revered. But what of those early V8 Convertible cars that made such a dramatic entrance into our lives and are now a rare sight on UK roads – are they now a forgotten 6 Series?
They certainly are not forgotten by 53-year old Del Curtis who has been a firm advocate of the E64 645Ci Convertible – the car you see here – from its inception:
“I have owned three BMWs – a 3 Series Saloon, Coupé and this 6 Series. I have always loved cars, in my younger days I was an avid VW Golf GTI fan – I had a 1981 Mk1 Golf GTI,” Del smiled. “But ever since I saw the 6 Series I loved the look of it, especially from the back with its rectangular window – I think it is a really nice looking car.”
Del put his money where his mouth is all the way back in 2007 when he purchased the car you see here at just two-and-a-half years of age. “It was mint in mint condition when I purchased it with 2500-miles on the clock.
The lady who had traded it into a BMW main dealer in Lancashire had undergone a hip operation and could no longer get into it,” we’re told. “One thing I asked the dealer to do was to change the wheels, I never liked the multi-spoked wheels and opted to change them to what you see here now.”
As we’ve already said, most of these cars left the factory with desirable upgrades and this one is no different – it boasts that Ј610 TV option though this sadly no longer works. “I always get people looking at the car, I think it’s because of the colour – there are very few of these in this colour as they all seem to be black or silver,” Del smiled.
Once something of a daily driver, today this 6 Series wears its 125,000-miles exceptionally well and is used sparingly as Del’s change of career seven-years ago now calls for him to use a van for day-to-day driving. What’s his secret for keeping a car like this in such tip top shape when it’s not tucked up on his driveway under the protection of a fitted car cover?
“Regular servicing and general upkeep are key. All work on the car has always been carried out with my local garage – who have an experienced BMW specialist working for them,” Del explained. “I had the engine rebuilt last year as it was smoking and using a large amount of oil. But previous to that I have had no reliability issues whatsoever. Ownership of this car has been a joy, it’s a beautiful car and lovely to drive. I love the rear view of it when you squat down and look from the back. And the combination of the Blue and Cream leather looks very classy.”
Del is certain that the E64 is a future classic BMW, he stresses that he has no plans on selling this car, though a second BMW could be added to the driveway in the future when a van is no longer the order of the day: “I think BMW is a quality brand, I wouldn’t hesitate in purchasing another in the future – I like the 3 and 4 Series hard top convertibles, and love thenew 8 Series!”
While you can’t buy Del’s pride and joy, he whole heartedly recommends E64 645Ci ownership: “You get a lot of car for your money, I would highly recommend anyone to own one – just make sure all then usual thorough checks are carried out,” he said. Del is absolutely right. Much is said of the E63 – the Coupй version of this model, far less of the E64 Convertible, a car that offers much once that vast canvass roof is lowered better connecting the driver to its sonorous V8.
Depreciation was an enemy for this generation of Six, but that’s not the problem of today’s buyer who can pick up a 645Ci from around Ј5000. The problem might be that there are a few similar and equally attractive options in the E64 line-up; 630i, 645Ci and 650i, but don’t discount the early V8s for these are fine cars. As Del can testify the N62 engine is known for oil leaks, so too rocker cover gasket failure, but do your checks as he advises to avoid inheriting a problem. A good E64 645Ci will reward with an exhilarating, relaxing, driving experience accompanied by a petrol V8 soundtrack the likes of which is fast being consigned to the history books. There are few BMWs of this price point with such road presence.
The E64 was eventually replaced by the F12, and while much is said about how that is a far better car, getting on for two decades since we first saw the E63/64 generation of Six, might even its most impassioned detractors now see its appeal as a bargain modern classic BMW? The E63/64 successfully resurrected the 6 Series name for the brand, while some at the time might have felt it too much of a departure from the original recipe or the rest of the BMW range, with hindsight and knowledge of today’s mixed-up automotive model ranges and wild styling cues, to my eye its once radical styling no longer looks unusual. Rather, this is a 6 Series that absolutely fulfils its brief – carrying people in style across long distances as quickly and comfortably as possible.
The E63/64 successfully resurrected the 6 Series name for the brand.
- 2004 BMW 645Ci E64
- ENGINE: V8, 32-valve N62
- CAPACITY: 4398cc
- MAX POWER: 333hp @ 6100rpm
- MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 3700rpm
- 0-62MPH: 6.1-seconds
- TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
- ECONOMY: 22.1mpg
- EMISSIONS (CO²): 279g/km
- WEIGHT: 1820kg
- PRICE (OTR 2004): £55,905