1983 BMW 633CSi coupe

A neighbor of mine owned a BMW 633CSi for many years. I think all 6-series coupes from the seventies and eighties are good-looking, but this one was exceptionally attractive, with a dark blue exterior and a tan interior.

“A conspicuous exception”

For the 1983 model year, BMW changed the platform of the 6-series coupe in North America. This substantial update—the first since the introduction of the series in 1977—resulted in changes to the exterior styling, the engine, the chassis, the suspension, the electronics, and the interior. These changes still left the 633CSi both very recognizable to and quite comfortable for its intended market.

BMW updated the 633CSi’s engine to the M30 181 bhp 3.2 liter/196 ci inline six with Bosch Motronic fuel injection. This engine was available with a standard wide-ratio five-speed manual or an optional automatic. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the fuel economy rating of 19 city/29 highway mpg meant a range of between 360 and 400 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. 0-60 mph came in about 8.5 seconds—competitive performance for a luxury coupe in 1983.

The updated front suspension featured double-linked struts, making the big coupe less likely to dip under hard braking. The new rear axle assembly added a top-mounted link to the trailing arm layout of the E28 528i. BMW replaced the ventilated rear disc brakes seen in previous years with solid ones in a token bid at simplicity.

1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement
1983 BMW 633CSi advertisement

The 633CSi’s base price was $39,210—about $103,900 in today’s dollars, and about 18% more than a base 2021 840i coupe goes for. Notably, this price was still less than it’s putative German competition; a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SEC was almost $15,000 more. Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included quad headlights with halogen high beams, power steering, four-wheel power disc brakes, and 205/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14 x 6.5 inch light-alloy wheels.

Inside the 633CSi, BMW paired leather reclining front bucket seats with leather rear bucket seats. Other interior accouterments included air conditioning, power heated side mirrors, power door locks, a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, and a digital clock.

BMW would build the 6-series coupes through the 1989 model year. Like many BMWs, the 633CSi does attract collector interest, and there is series-specific club support along with that of the bigger BMW car clubs. 633CSi’s are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, an Atlantic Blue Metallic 1984 633CSi with blue leather seats and 231,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $6,900 firm. Bring A Trailer auctioned a Sapphire Blue 1984 633CSi with a five-speed manual and blue bucket seats for $11,500 in June 2020.

Make mine Lapis Blue, please.

Other BMWs I have written about include the 1984 325e coupe, the 1988 M3 coupe, and the 1988 750iL sedan.

1988 BMW M3 coupe

Earlier this month, my wife and I visited the small but excellent BMW Zentrum Museum in Greer, SC. Of course they had a first-generation M3 on display—time to write a blog entry about this game-changing little coupe.

“Created for the race track, destined for the road.”

It took the M3 two-and-a-half years to make it to the United States following its debut in Europe, but most agreed that it was worth the wait. Reviews were enthusiastic; Car and Driver exclaimed that “This is a car for us.”

The powertrain was the thing: an S14 192 bhp 2.3 liter/141 ci 16-valve inline four with four valves per cylinder and Bosch Motronic fuel injection mated to a five-speed manual. In a car with a curb weight of 2,734 pounds, this meant impressive acceleration—0-60 times were in the seven-second range. Given this, fuel economy wasn’t bad: 17 city/28 highway on premium gasoline by the standards of the day (15/26 by today’s standards). With a 14.5-gallon gas tank, the proud new owner of an M3 could expect a range of 265 to 295 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior equipment on the pricey $34,000 M3 (about $75,500 in 2019 dollars or a little over what a base 2020 M4 coupe goes for) included boxed-out fender flares, a unique front bumper, and a cap over the C-pillar which helped to feed air onto the large for the day rear wing. Mechanical features included a limited-slip differential, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and 205/55VR15 tires on 15 x 7 inch cast light alloy BBS wheels.

Inside, the M3 was comfortably equipped; leather sport seats, full instrumentation, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, and an AM/FM stereo cassette were all included.

1988 BMW M3 advertisement

Over the last decade or so, the first-generation M3 has become one of the definitive eighties collector cars. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1988 M3 in #1/Concours condition is an astounding $142,000, with a more normal #3/Good car going for $59,700. Some M3s come up for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors, but many are now sold at auction.

Make mine Salmon Silver Metallic, I think.

1984 BMW 325e Coupe

Murilee Martin of The Truth About Cars posted a Junkyard Find on a BMW 325e recently, so I’ve updated this two-year-old post.

“High technology dedicated to heightening your pulse rate.”

I see BMW’s 325e as a rare misstep for BMW in the eighties, a decade where BMW generally could do no wrong.

The e stood for efficiency, and the engine was BMW’s torque-optimized M20B27 2.7 liter/165 ci inline six with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, making 121 bhp and 170 lb-ft of torque with a fairly low 4,700 rpm redline. Mileage by the standards of the day was pretty good: 21 city/28 highway (18/26 by 2016 standards) with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Proud new owners of a 325e could expect about 320 miles of range with a 10% reserve.

0-60 mph with the five-speed manual took between 8.5 and 9 seconds, and the 325e’s top speed was 116 mph—not exactly the kind of numbers one would expect from the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” As Car and Driver wrote, “the 325e is less of a goer than you would imagine.”

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $19,700 325e (about $47,700 in 2016 dollars) included power four-wheel disk brakes, bumper-mounted fog lights, and 195/60R14 tires (the same size as those on the Isuzu Impulse). Inside, the 325e came well-equipped: power steering, cloth or leatherette manual sport seats, a power sunroof, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a three spoke leather sport steering wheel, and a BMW/Alpine four-speaker AM/FM stereo with cassette and power antenna were all included.

Available options for the 325e were relatively few: a four-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, many choices of metallic paint, and a limited slip differential.

BMW did their best to present the 325e as a legitimate part of their overall product line.

BMW would continue with the 325e as the top of the line 3 series until 1987, when the 325i and 325is were released with the 2.5 liter/152 ci M20B25 inline 6 featuring a much more sporting 168 bhp. Horsepower for the 325e would climb just a little in 1988, but by 1989 it would be gone, replaced completely in the 3-series model line by the 325i.

Hagerty does not follow 325e values, and the 325e is rarely seen in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. Examples do show up on eBay Motors—as I update this post in August 2016, there is a Bronzit Beige 1984 with a tan leatherette interior, an automatic transmission, a sunroof, and 49,000 miles available for $9,850.

Make mine Baltic Blue Metallic, please.

1988 BMW 750iL sedan

“Enter into a new world.”

After a year in production with just the straight 6, the second generation of BMW’s top of the line 7-series sedan got a V12 option in 1988. This engine, designated M70 and BMW’s first production V12, used Bosch Motronic M fuel injection and made a fairly effortless 296 bhp from its 5.0 liter/305 ci size.

BMW’s M70 V12, courtesy of Sv650k4 from the Wikimedia Commons.

The late eighties were back when BMW number and letter designations still meant something, so the breakout of the 7-series with the V12 was this:

7 – series

50 – 5.0 liters

i – fuel injected

L – long wheelbase

Of course, at the eye-popping base price of $69,000 (about $150,800 in 2018 dollars or about what a 2019 BMW M760i sedan goes for) the purchaser also got almost every piece of equipment BMW could put in the car. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, ZF’s Servotronic power steering, a self-leveling rear suspension, a driver’s side airbag, a trip computer, dual-zone air conditioning, and leather seats were all standard.

Beyond this, there were a few options available; one was a limited-slip differential. In addition, the buyer of a 750iL was paying the dreaded $1,850 gas guzzler tax—the original EPA estimate was 12 city/17 highway (the modern equivalent would be 11 city/16 highway). With a 27-gallon fuel tank, a 750iL owner could expect a range of between 330 to 350 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

I remember being in one of these cars when it was new, and I felt it accelerated like a LearJet: weighing in at about 4,235 pounds, it still could do 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds and hit 155 mph—respectable sports car numbers in the late 1980s. At the time, Car and Driver called it “the sedan of choice when money is no object.”

Folks do collect the 750iL, but the maintenance costs can be daunting. The 750iL sometimes makes an appearance in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there were none for sale when I updated this post in December 2018.

Make mine silver, please, though black also has its attractions.

Updated in December 2018.