Turbocharging an early BMW 6 Series - Revcounter 394

By: Guy Allen

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bmw e24 6 series bmw e24 6 series

Is turbocharging an early BMW 6 Series an act of cultural desecration?

From Unique Cars #394, October 2016

Morley and I have been playing tag-team on would-be car purchases lately, which is probably unhealthy. I’ve been jealously following his Project Duckcrap – the feisty VC Commodore hill-climb car – and we’ve been tossing around ideas on the next stage, which is knocking together a couple of Euro track cars. Porsche 924 series got into the frame.

They’re still not outrageously expensive (or so we thought), and have a very handy 50-50 weight balance. Mostly.

The problem was the further we looked into it, the more expensive a good one became. This is one of those cars where you need to buy right, otherwise it will bite you on the arse. Or wallet – whichever is nearer.

After a few months of searching and seeing the odd car, he rang and said he wasn’t finding any bargains. That’s partly because air-cooled 911 prices have gone through the roof and, I suspect, have sucked demand for 924 series along in their wake. All of a sudden, the front-engined Porsches once sniffed at by the purists are looking attractive.

What gets me about this is demand has nothing to do with how the car drives. Mr M and others I respect have long said the front-engine series deserved a whole lot more love than it was getting. Now it’s happening. Which is good news for owners and not so much for hopefuls like us.

No matter, it just meant I turned around and took another look at my existing German two-door, the 1976 BMW 633. Okay, it’s not a sports car. Not really. It’s weighty for its day – 1450 kilos – and put out a modest 200 horses.

But what I have spotted is a turbo kit for the M30 engine series which, even at relatively low boost, promises something like M6 performance for the period. Which means around 270-ish. Now that would definitely wake it up.

Here’s the conundrum: the car cost me bugger-all ($7500) and owes not much more now it’s reasonably well sorted. Let’s say low to mid-teens all-up. Do I risk spending a whole lot more while buggering up its long-term value with the turbo kit?

Hell, the car’s not worth much. But it has some significance for BMW cognoscenti because it’s build number 40 of the E24 right-hand drive series, worldwide. It even has the Karmann build plate in the left door sill, which highlights it was made before BMW took over full assembly of the Paul Bracq design.

You can’t help wondering if, just as you wind in the last bolt on the turbo installation, there might be a coven of Bimmer folk turning up at the front gate with a burning cross. Worse, Shannons et al might sell its original sister car for a small fortune.

The truth is I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it to the poor old Bimm – and that’s where Morley got it right from day one. Buy a shitebox no-one’s too worried about and fettle it to your heart’s content.

Now, I’ve just noticed there’s a near-perfect early-eighties Nissan EXA Turbo over in WA at the moment, for a mere three grand. That would make an interesting project. Do you reckon it would make it across the Nullarbor to the east coast? And how do you make it go faster?

I quite like the idea of a front-drive hill-climb car, even though real drivers prefer rear. And the thing that annoys me most is no matter how fast or well set up it is, driver talent wins and Morley will always beat me. Still, that’s no reason not to have a go. Wish me luck…

 

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