European GTs, part 2 – 1980 BMW 633CSi

Recently, RustyButTrusty has been watching a lot of episodes of Wheeler Dealers. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a British show on Discovery where they buy an older enthusiast car, “restore” it, and sell it on at a profit. Who among you haven’t dreamed of doing that? I can say for sure that I have no ability in that area, instead sinking all my money into cars I sell for less than I bought them for… although to be truthful I have yet to sell one of my cars.

Anyway, one of the cars they featured recently was an E24 BMW 6-series, specifically a 635CSi. For £2000, they picked up a nice red example with cloth interior and automatic transmission. They cleaned it up nicely with leather seats from a parts car, some suspension fixes, replacing the 80s alloys with OEM wheels, and a new exhaust, and sold it on for a few hundred pounds profit. Now, £2000 is on the outside of our budget, but you can still find nice affordable examples if you’re willing to look around a bit. Looking for a car with a manual transmission (because really, what fun is an automatic?), I was able to find this tidy-looking example for sale for $2800 in Bloomington, CA (east of Los Angeles).

1980 BMW 633 CSi front

Looking pretty smart in black with partially chromed mesh wheels, this seems a pretty good deal on the surface. What could possibly go wrong? Only 30-year old luxury conveniences! It does give the appearance of having had a recent paint job, or having been garage-kept. These are prone to rusting, so even in desert conditions, make sure it’s in good shape – you never know where a car has been in its life, especially if it doesn’t have its original plates to show its origins.

1980 BMW 633CSi engine

The engine looks clean enough, at least for a driver. Since it hasn’t been detailed, you’ll be able to see where any leaks, etc. are showing up. Notice the cheezy alarm horn – make sure this has been properly installed and that your wiring is not all hacked up. And chuck it once you’ve bought the car – really, who’s going to steal a 30-year-old BMW?

1980 BMW 633 CSi interior

The interior actually looks really tidy. Normally you’d expect to see split leather and stained carpet in a car of this vintage. The seat bolsters look a little weak, and the steering wheel is not for everyone, but overall the impression is great.

1980 BMW 633CSi left

One last shot of the shark. Unfortunately, its appearance is marred by those early safety bumpers, but it still remains an attractive car. On some cars of this period, the conversion to European-market bumpers is easy – is this one of those cars, or were they too-well integrated? In any case, the great thing with these cars is that they were made with various powertrain options, so engine/transmission upgrades (available from your local junkyard) should help you forget any aesthetic issues.

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