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1988 BMW 635CSI Alpina trim E24

This is not an Eighties car, I can hear the naysayers proclaim – and yes, the elegant E24 first edged its (shark)nose into public consciousness halfway through the Seventies. However, it’s here because it was the halo car for BMW’s Eighties ascent into the upper echelons of desirability. We have to strip back years of 2 Series Active Tourers and ratty 320Ds to uncover the BMW of old. The badge was a status symbol – king of the keyfobs at yuppie dinner parties. All the prestige of a Jaguar or high-spec Rover without the whiff of old-school England, and much sportier than a Mercedes-Benz. The BMW was engineered of the right stuff – its sharp, crisp lines a foil to British notions of luxury and prestige still predicated on more chrome, wood and leather than an MP’s secret cellar. BMWs were properly expensive too – sift through the price list of the era and the difference between a E24 635CSi Highline like the one seen here and the top-of-the-tree M635CSi E24 could swallow a semi-detached home in the Midlands. So E30 3 Series aside, Eighties BMWs were always a fairly rare sight; nowadays every third car seems to wear an ever-more gopping kidney grille.

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