When it comes to BMW design, the E24 6 Series, or the shark, or shark nose, as it has been colloquialized, is among the most striking and memorable. Despite the fact that the 6 Series, no matter the generation, has always been overshadowed by other BMW models and series which have sold in greater numbers, the first generation stands as a great example of what BMW does best: building a car that remains incredibly capable outside of its intended realm—which for the 6 Series, is grand touring.
It’s not just the eye-catching design of the original Six that sets it apart, however. Manufactured for well over a decade and a period that spanned two different platforms and body manufacturers, the array of E24 6 Series models is heavily varied, and a lot changed from when the first examples became available in the 1970s to when the model signed off in 1989 ahead of the 8 Series introduction.
Roughly three decades after production of the first generation of the 6 Series concluded, the model seems to be enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with younger drivers who may not have been alive when they were on sale taking notice and making them their own. It’s easy to see why, as the E24 has all of the ingredients to make a great BMW: sharp looks, respectable performance, and a presence few other cars, both new and from its era, can replicate. It also bears mentioning that today, we also find ourselves in another era in which the 8 Series has taken the crown 6 Series after the most recent platform which held true to the original formula went out of production in 2018.
In a new video by BMW Classic, hosts Marc and Christoph take us on a tour of two of the best example of the original Six: the M1-engine-powered M635CSi and the 635CSi race car which wears one of the best BMW liveries ever created (Original BMW Teile). The M635CSi used the 282-horsepower version of the M88/1 engine, while in the U.S., the car was badged as the M6, and was powered by the M5’s S38 engine which developed 256 horsepower. The race car, on the other hand, allowed BMW to continue its success in motorsport, picking up where cars like the 3.0CSL and E21 3 Series left off, capturing multiple touring car titles throughout the 1980s, and showing that, despite the model’s grand touring roots, it had no trouble competing on the circuit. The video also shows just how technologically advanced the E24 was when it arrived, thanks to technology like the service interval board, check control system, and onboard computer (OBC), items which arrived on the 6 Series, and not BMW’s perennial technological flagship, the 7 Series, which debuted a year later in the form of the first-generation E23.
Check out the video below to see why the E24 remains an important BMW over 40 years after it was introduced.—Alex Tock
[Photo and video courtesy BMW AG.]