BMW 1976 3.0CSI + 1986 M6 + 1987 Alpina Comparison

By: Matt Thewlis, Guy Allen, Photography by: Nathan Jacobs

Presented by

bmw comparison bmw comparison
bmw csi bmw csi
bmw csi 3 bmw csi 3
bmw csi 2 bmw csi 2
bmw csi onroad bmw csi onroad
bmw csi onroad 2 bmw csi onroad 2
bmw csi side bmw csi side
bmw csi badge bmw csi badge
bmw csi badge 2 bmw csi badge 2
bmw csi badge 3 bmw csi badge 3
bmw csi engine bmw csi engine
bmw csi engine 2 bmw csi engine 2
bmw csi engine 3 bmw csi engine 3
bmw csi engine 4 bmw csi engine 4
bmw csi wheel bmw csi wheel
bmw csi interior bmw csi interior
bmw csi dash bmw csi dash
bmw csi dash 4 bmw csi dash 4
bmw csi console bmw csi console
bmw csi dash 2 bmw csi dash 2
bmw csi dash 3 bmw csi dash 3
bmw alpina bmw alpina
bmw alpina 6 bmw alpina 6
bmw alpina onroad bmw alpina onroad
bmw alpina onroad 2 bmw alpina onroad 2
bmw alpina side bmw alpina side
bmw alpina wheel bmw alpina wheel
bmw alpina 3 bmw alpina 3
bmw alpina 4 bmw alpina 4
bmw alpina 5 bmw alpina 5
bmw alpina grille bmw alpina grille
bmw alpina engine 3 bmw alpina engine 3
bmw alpina engine 4 bmw alpina engine 4
bmw alpina engine 5 bmw alpina engine 5
bmw alpina engine bmw alpina engine
bmw alpina engine 2 bmw alpina engine 2
bmw alpina interior bmw alpina interior
bmw alpina dash bmw alpina dash
bmw alpina dash 2 bmw alpina dash 2
bmw alpina dash 3 bmw alpina dash 3
bmw alpina dash 4 bmw alpina dash 4
bmw alpina console bmw alpina console
bmw alpina steering wheel bmw alpina steering wheel
bmw m6 2 bmw m6 2
bmw m6 4 bmw m6 4
bmw m6 onroad bmw m6 onroad
bmw m6 onroad 2 bmw m6 onroad 2
bmw m6 side bmw m6 side
bmw m6 wheel bmw m6 wheel
bmw m6 3 bmw m6 3
bmw m6 badge bmw m6 badge
bmw m6 exhaust bmw m6 exhaust
bmw m6 grille bmw m6 grille
bmw m6 wheel bmw m6 wheel
bmw m6 engine bmw m6 engine
bmw m6 engine 4 bmw m6 engine 4
bmw m6 engine 2 bmw m6 engine 2
bmw m6 engine 3 bmw m6 engine 3
bmw m6 interior bmw m6 interior
bmw m6 console bmw m6 console
bmw m6 console 2 bmw m6 console 2
bmw m6 dash bmw m6 dash
bmw m6 dash 2 bmw m6 dash 2
bmw m6 pedals bmw m6 pedals

Performance testing three top-echelon Bimmer coupes

This was one of those ideas that grew a life of its own – performance test of three classic BMW coupes, all of which are available, in one form or another on the market today. So we’re talking a modified E9 3.0 CS running a later M30-based powerplant, a very desirable E24 (aka 635) in Alpina B9 form, plus the ultimate chrome bumper sixer – the M6.

The E9, which started life as a very late model 3.0 CSi (1976) is the most modified of the trio. The original driveline was removed and carefully put aside, replaced with a 3.5lt engine bumped out to 3.8lt, feeding through triple Weber carburettors. Behind that is a five-speed normal-pattern transmission and limited-slip diff.

bmw-comparison-2.jpg

As for the 1987 Alpina, after its first European touring car championship in 1970 the specialist tuning house was the name in BMW performance before the company’s own M division became dominant. Modifications to the M30 3.5 engine include the ECU, camshaft, head and pistons. There is also a five-speed dogleg Getrag transmission. The chassis gets revised suspension, and interior changes are extensive including driver seats and extensive use of buffalo hide.

| Read next: 1987 BMW E28 M5 review

The performance claims include 245hp peak power (up from 220 on a stock E24 635) and 320Nm of torque (up from 310).

bmw-csi-badge.jpgThe distinctive badge tells you all you need to know

And the 1986 M6? This is the pinnacle shark-snout Sixer for enthusiasts. Fitted with the M88 version of the 24-valve engine out of the M1 supercar, it claims an impressive 282 horses at a fairly heady 6500rpm matched to a meaty 340Nm at 4500rpm. With distinctive chassis and trim, this was a very quick car when introduced in the eighties and still rates as a very quick and desirable classic.

| Buyer's Guide: BMW E24 coupe

So what was done with them? With the help of three drivers (Clive Massell of Makulu Car Services, Chris Boribon of Shannons and Matt Thewlis of Tampered Motorsport Track Days), we gathered the toys together for a combo of quarter-mile runs, 0-100km/h sprints and a short hillclimb circuit. Matt, who is highly regarded as a steerer, was our control driver for all three cars.

Here’s what he discovered…

OVERALL RESULTS

1976 BMW E9 CSI:

Considering this car is around 10-plus years older the M6 and Alpina when we talk about build dates, specs and technology available, the mods meant it certainly held its own in this performance testing.

bmw-csi-3.jpg

Being the only carburettor car in the fleet it has to been driven in a different manner to stay in touch with the newer M6 and Alpina. It’s limited in its power delivery with no power gain after 5000rpm, but the engine note that this beautiful car makes is music to the ears and it’s intoxicating no matter where it is in its rev range.

| Read next: 1975 BMWQ E9 CSL review

Overall handing was surprisingly good for a car of this vintage, but not to the level of the newer M6 and Alpina. When pushed hard it did have a tendency to have some body roll and understeer.    The initial steering input with the CSi is vague to say the least with some play in the steering rack, but once the steering engaged it would turn. However if you asked too much of it, then understeer would rear its head again. But, with a slight change in driver technique you could maximise the overall handling and performance from this car and negate the understeer issues.

bmw-csi.jpg

The CSI brakes were on point for a car of this age. Only towards the end of our performance test did they show signs of fade but even when you may have pushed past your braking marker it would still pull up well considering. The pedal had a good consistent feel and only showed signs of a long pedal nearing the very end of the run.

Clutch and Gearbox is not the easiest combination I have used, but when you become accustomed to what it likes it is pretty easy to adjust to. It’s a reasonably heavy clutch pedal but has a nice point of release and the gear selection isn’t that smooth or direct when selecting gears when it’s not warmed up. Once warm it becomes more user friendly and direct.

bmw-csi-engine-2.jpg

Overall, it was a pleasure to drive and unique in its own right. It performed well when driven with vigour and would have been a standout car in its time, a sports car that ticks all the boxes!

The inside layout is of its era and basic in how it works, but very functional. The seats are comfortable considering, but you also know you’re in 70s sports car.

When cruising, this car is a pleasure to drive and you could comfortably do it for lengthy periods of time, no problems at all.

bmw-csi-interior.jpg

The body shape and design of this car is pretty to say the least. It has that slick sports car look and the note from the engine to match. It certainly drew plenty of attention when we were cruising on the highways and when we stopped at the servo for the usual fuel stops!

1987 BMW ALPINA:

Like the M6 it proved to be an impressive car, as it probably should be, considering the upgrades it receives when it becomes an Alpina.

bmw-alpina-2.jpgThe inconspicuous looks of the B9 Alpina mask its considerable poke

This car had many characteristics that were similar to the M6, but excelled in the overall handling compared to the other cars we performed the test with. It simply ate up the corners at speed during the hill climb and road test and was superior to the CSI and M6. The Alpina felt like it was on rails and right at home when tackling the twisty mountain roads we drove through in the road test. The steering provided amazing feedback and was on point, which gave me great confidence in pushing this to the maximum. It never once gave any indication of becoming unstable and was very predictable.

It provided nice, smooth, user friendly power during the comparison test, but left me a little hollow due to the fact it’s such a quiet car and didn’t offer that engine note of the CSI and the M6. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very nice car and it gets along just fine, but I would love for it to provide some of that smooth BMW engine sound out of the exhaust!

bmw-alpina-6.jpg

The braking surprised me on this car after driving the M6 and performed well. Once again it pulled up no problems at all and not once during the performance tests did any brake fade or a long pedal come into play.

As with the M6, the clutch and gearbox were easy to use from the get go and very forgiving in the way they work. The gear selection was positive, direct and coupled with that power plant made it pleasure to drive, both during the performance test and cruising. The clutch is reasonably heavy as you would expect and had a higher release point compared to the M6 and CSI, but was still easy to use during all forms of driving.

bmw-alpina-engine-3.jpgBMW 3.5 litre straight six - one of the world’s great engines

The Alpina styling is what sets it apart from the M6 and the CSI. With the futuristic wheels and the fact it’s finished in all white makes it look like an out-and-out sports car. That coupled with the timeless shape would attract any motoring enthusiast’s eye! Its street appeal nowadays was evident during the comparison test – a real head turner that’s for sure.

The interior is nice and has that typical feel and high quality finish you would expect of a BMW of that era. Just like the M6, it’s all very functional and luxurious for its time. This car would appeal to the diehard sports car fan who wants something with an edgy finish.

bmw-alpina-interior.jpg

1986 BMW M6:

This ticked a box off my bucket list of cars to drive, and it didn’t disappoint at all! During the performance test it performed brilliantly and would give some of today’s cars a real run for their money.

The effortless power this sports car produces is amazing to say the least. The torque and usable power is exceptional and it’s all under your right foot when you need it. It’s not neck-breaking by any stretch but it produces enough to get the rear wheels chirping.

bmw-m6-2.jpg

Oh, and that engine note is something else. It could be heard for miles when it was opened full throttle during the hill climb and when heel/toeing during the downshifts it gives a nice crack and burble.

Considering the size and weight of this car, its handling was on point and direct. During the performance test, at times the rear end had the tendency to want to step out, but was very predictable all the same.

This car was a particular standout during the hillclimb challenge when that beautiful power plant coupled with its handling characteristics certainly rose to the top. There was some play in the steering wheel, but like the CSI when the steering rack was engaged it certainly pointed the car where it needed to go.

bmw-m6-4.jpg

The braking surprised me on this car and performed better than I expected. Once again it pulled up no problems at all and not once during the performance tests did any brake fade or a long pedal come into play. The M6 offered a nice consistent brake pedal that had a nice feel and response under my foot. This astounded me considering the age of this car but paid testament to the build quality and just how advanced the BMW brand was during the era.

The clutch and gearbox were easy to use from the get go and very forgiving in the way they work. The gear selection was positive and direct. This, coupled with that torquey motor, made it a pleasure to drive, both during the performance test and cruising. The clutch is reasonably heavy as you would expect but offered a nice neutral release point which suited all forms of driving.

bmw-m6-engine.jpg

Overall, this was my favourite car to drive during this test. It exceeded my expectations both during the performance test and when cruising the open roads or the busy streets of suburban Melbourne.

The M6 styling is timeless on the exterior and screams sports car no matter what view you take of it. It’s still has plenty of street appeal nowadays as evident during the comparison test, a real head turner that’s for sure!

bmw-m6-interior.jpg

The interior is nice and has that typical feel and high quality finish you would expect of a BMW of that era. It’s all very functional and I’m tipping somewhat luxurious for its time. Finished with a leather interior and modern features of its time, it would have been a much-desired car. All in all the M6 was the pick of the cars for me as it performed well in all aspects during the performance and road test.

Its timeless shape and street appeal, coupled with that power plant and user-friendly gear box and clutch made the overall driving experience a memorable one.

1976 E9 CSI Special & 1987 Alpina B10
Owner - Clive Massel

I never thought I’d say this, I always under-rated the M6, because I drove it as a cruising car. But when you drive it on song through the hills, and really drive it hard, that car is in a league of its own. It out performs the B10.

clive-massel.jpg

As for my E9, it’s really a big wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’ve got its original engine bubble-wrapped. This one is running a 3.8 stroked 635 motor and three Webers. It’s reputed to be making 240-250hp. It’s a fun car that tickles you in the right places.

As for the B9, it’s one of just seven that were assembled locally and this was the first, destined for the then M-D of BMW Australia.

bmw-alpina-onroad-2.jpg

The Alpina is very gentle, exceptionally smooth, it’s about the pleasure of knowing that you’re driving a very very limited version. In the UK, their value is outrunning that of M6s, because they’re in huge demand over there.

All of these cars have some growth left in their values and the M6 in particular is hugely under-rated by the market. It’s very much the sleeper at the moment.

ED’S NOTE: Clive Massel runs Makulu Car Services and has generously helped us with numerous stories over recent years.

1986 M6
Owner - Keith 'Jimmy' Olsen

I think it’s a unique BMW and I’ve always had a big strong fetish for M cars. It’s a sexy-looking car and I just had to find the right one.

keith-olsen.jpg

The twin cam M88 engine is really good up at the top end. It has a pretty good torque curve, though you probably find the M30 is a little better in the low to mid-range. The M88 comes into its own at the four to seven mark. They sound great, too.

I’m the third owner. The first was dealer principal at Adelaide BMW and imported it personally. He kept it for a number years.

bmw-m6-onroad.jpg

It’s very hard to find a good original clean car with a good history that’s documented.

My tips for buying one?  Spend the money and buy the right car - 100 per cent, that’s exactly right. The problem is trying to source the car. It’s very difficult and when you do find it there will be at least half a dozen other people wanting it.

Seek advice, understand what you’re buying. When you buy these cars there is a degree of maintenance and there’s a cost to that. Pre-purchase inspection will give you a heads-up. Be patient. Try not to fall into the trap of buying a car which someone else has had for years, and you’re buying their neglect. That’s the key.

ED’S NOTE: We used two M6s for the story. ‘Jimmy’ kindly loaned us the photography car and he manages the highly-regarded specialist workshop; Southern BM in Moorabbin, Vic.

bmw-csi-badge-3.jpg

1976 BMW 3.0 CSI

HillClimb Time: 1:02.08
1/4 Mile Run Time: 14.82 seconds
0-100kph Time: 9.26 seconds

bmw-m6-badge.jpg

1986 BMW M6 specs

HillClimb Time: 59.72
1/4 Mile Run Time: 14.56 seconds
0-100kph Time: 8.22 seconds

bmw-alpina-4.jpg

1987 BMW Alpine

HillClimb Time: 1:01.28
1/4 Mile Run Time: 14.66 seconds
0-100kph Time: 8.92 seconds

 

Classic Australian Family Car Value Guide home page

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

Japanese Classic Car Value Guide home page

Recent auction results

Sell your car for free right here

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition