1984 BMW 628CSi Automatic E24
The E24 6 Series remains one of the most desirable and affordable “shark nose” classic BMW GT cars. But, while the M635CSi gets much of the attention, might a facelift 628CSi offer the best ownership prospect?
Words: Simon Jackson
Photography: Jason Dodd
BASKING SHARK E24628CSi
Classic «sharknose» explored
As I write we are in the midst of what many are painting as a new global energy crisis. Oil prices have reached record highs with a barrel of the black stuff trading hands for more than $100 a pop and all signs pointing to a further rise. While it remains to be seen whether things are quite as bad in the long term as some industry commentators would have us believe, there’s no denying that we’ve been in far better shape in the recent past. Only time will tell if the situation could become as bad as the famed oil crisis of the early 1970s, back then some car manufacturers were forced to rethink their model strategies entirely by adopting more economical, fuel-sipping, creations that were easy on the wallet but not necessarily on the eye. Fortuitously or not, BMW did not allow itself to perform a knee-jerk reaction at the start of the 1970s like some other marques, the results contradicted the thinking of the time. Cars with rather large engines emerged from BMW as Munich’s suits hoped they had the longevity to ride-out the storm and overrule an influx of smaller rivals powered by low capacity engines. Enter the E24 6 Series.
“In 1987 the gentleman retired to Monaco taking his beloved BMW with him”
Now, BMW wasn’t stupid. While a continent-crushing coupé with a big straight-six up front seemed to fly in the face of oil crisis era convention, the E24 was far from an old fashioned brute when it was revealed to the public at the Geneva motor show in 1979. Regardless of what might lie ahead, BMW had spent the early 1970s working on the assumption that luxury cars would remain desirable in the future, at least to those at the upper end of the earning spectrum, and so it aimed, perhaps sensibly, for those buyers. However, while asking price and running costs might not have been quite so much of a consideration for those in the drawing rooms for the E24 this new BMW still needed to comprise a design that was advanced and efficient with a familiar design language. In Paul Bracq’s design (BMW’s in-house designer) BMW had just that.
They say fashions are cyclical and while we are today discussing an oil crisis as we were 50-years previous, BMW has also recently (and once again) generated column inches for its approach to front grille design. You see grilles were also to the fore at the launch of the E24 for it too debuted a bold front end design treatment in its shark-like nose. Bracq’s reverse angle front end design became known as the “shark nose” and the element would come to define the era for BMW. Yet unlike some BMW creations today, the E24’s elegant looks were well received at the time and to this day it remains one of its most striking designs of all time. The height of 1970’s luxury, inside it was somewhat future gazing and in combination with its striking exterior it’s fair to say that the E24 well and truly hit the spot for the majority of enthusiasts.
While the mechanical underpinnings borrowed elements from the 5 Series, the E24 6 Series is largely remembered for being the first to feature BMW’s check control system, headed by a bank of warning lights to flag system failures. This was an advanced machine and when early assembly woes at Karmann showed their face BMW wasted little time in bringing most of the 6 Series production process in-house at its Dingolfing plant. Two six-cylinder engines were available at launch in 1976, the entry-level offering was the 185hp 630CS (CS standing for Coupé Sport) though this never made it to UK or US shores. The second was the 197hp 633CSi with its 3.2-litre motor running Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. Both came with a four-speed manual gearbox with the option of a three-speed automatic for the 630CS and, from 1977, an optional five- speed manual. But 1978 saw the arrival of the most common model – the 635CSi – with its 218hp produced by an enlarged capacity 3.5-litre engine. The following year BMW dropped the 630CS in favour of the 628CSi, and it’s this model that you see here in our pictures. Out went the 2985cc engine in the 630CS in came a reduced capacity 2788cc motor running fuel-injection for the 628CSi. Power was almost identical at 184hp, a reduction in torque to 177lb ft – down 11lb ft – with the unit mated to a four-speed manual or three-speed auto. As you might expect from a car now running fuel-injection fuel economy was improved, performance was almost identical. Another noteworthy change to the 6 Series at this point was the introduction of ABS as an option.
BMW ceased production of the 633CSi model in 1982, that left the line-up as two options – 628CSi and 635CSi – and the car received a facelift to boot. The rear bumper was altered to a wraparound design, the 3.5-litre engine received a few internal changes, and the then-new 5 Series donated its front suspension design. Inside, BMW’s first trip computer and service interval indicators were added too. It’s during this period that the 1984 car you see here was built, pretty much right in the middle of the 628CSi’s production run between 1979 and 1987.
Offered for sale at the time of writing by Goss Hall Classics in Kent (gosshallclassics. co.uk), a small outfit offering classic, performance and prestige cars, this 628CSi has lived quite an impressive life. “It was supplied by a BMW main dealer – Wolverhampton Motor Services – on the 11th January 1984 and used as a weekend runabout by its wealthy owner, the managing director of a large finance company,” explained Goss Hall Classics owner, Steve Ackrill. “In 1987, having sold his business, the gentleman retired to Monaco taking his beloved BMW with him, there it remained much loved and cared for but little used – maintained by BMW Concessionnaires in Monaco where it only covered 14,000-miles in nearly a decade.” In the summer of 1996 the car returned to the UK having been sold to a new owner, a traffic policeman from Droitwich who kept it for two-years before passing it on in August 1998 when it was showing a genuine mileage of 25,349-miles, under this new ownership it was maintained by BMW main agent Howarth of Staffordshire.
“It then moved to Scotland before crossing the water to Ireland where it was maintained by BMW dealers Joe Duffy Ltd,” Steve said. “Finally, in July 2019 at 54,518-miles, it came back to the UK where it has been cosseted by its last owner since. It’s a very genuine, low mileage, car with an impeccable history.”
The car – advertised at the time of our shoot for £16,495 – has since sold to a happy new owner but it presents a mighty powerful argument for its 628CSi brethren. Opinion will undoubtedly be split over which version of E24 6 Series offers the best ownership prospect, but given that the E24 was in production for a staggering 13-years with over 85,000 built, there’s potentially more out there than some classic BMWs we might care to mention. Ask any classic BMW fan to name an E24 and their mind will probably stray directly to the M635CSi – the final 6 Series – launched in 1983 with the impressive 24-valve M88 engine from the legendary M1. However, in this facelift 628CSi we have a car that is both reminiscent of the past and forward-thinking enough to boast advents commonplace in the future. Those ingredients create the holy grail of old car ownership – the useable classic. In the 628CSi we have a car that looks every inch the iconic classic BMW, a vehicle powered by a reliable – fuel-injected – straight-six petrol engine producing a decent amount of power to keep up with modern traffic, and a car that is comfortable, well-equipped and (compared with some BMW models from this era) affordable too. Could the post-1982 628CSi be the E24 6 Series sweet spot? You know, it just might be…
Of course all that sounds pretty rosey but as any self-respecting classic BMW enthusiast knows things are rarely that straight-forward, and there is one major spanner in the works that you might be expecting to rear its ugly head – rust. Good examples of the E24 6 Series, like the car in our pictures, are becoming more and more difficult to locate, many have rusted away or suffered neglect both to body and mechanicals – especially models like this which were not quite as highly sought-after as the aforementioned range-topping M635CSi from birth. Indeed, UK cars will have likely succumbed to our horrid climate but perform your usual due diligence checks, put head firmly in front of heart, and it’s entirely possible to buy a decent E24 in 2022 – just don’t plump for the cheapest car you can find as it’s sure to be a can of worms! A good example will provide a rewarding driving experience, keep on top of its maintenance and your E24 6 Series might – fingers crossed – appreciate in value to cover its running costs. One thing is certain, it will return plenty of smiles per mile for it remains every inch the luxury GT car it was originally designed to be. The appeal owning one of the last shark-nosed BMWs remains powerful.
TECHNICAL DATA 1984 BMW 628CSi Automatic E24
- ENGINE: straight-six, 12-valve, SOHC
- CAPACITY: 2788cc
- MAX POWER: 184hp
- MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
- 0-62MPH: 9.5-seconds
- TOP SPEED: 131mph
- ECONOMY: 18.2mpg
Inside the E24 was relatively futuristic, it was the first to feature BMW’s check control system. BMW dropped the 630CS model in favour of the 628CSi, its 2788cc straight-six produced 184hp – good enough to propel the 6 Series to 62mph in 9.5-seconds.