BMW 635CSi (1978) Review: Our Shed

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1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi
1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi
1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi
1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi 1978 BMW 635CSi

Our shed: Allen's 635. Another money pit revealed...

BMW 635CSi (1978) Review: Our Shed
1978 BMW 635CSi


1978 BMW 635CSi 

Readers of Unique Cars' sister title Motorcycle Trader will recognise respected two-wheel journo Guy Allen's byline. But despite such a long bike background, Allen's a car bloke, too, and one with taste. Take his rare BMW 635CSi.

"The BeeEm is probably the first enthusiast car I've bought," Guy confirms. "I wanted a manual car and something a bit different. It's a really early '78 model with a Getrag dog-leg gearbox and two-valve 3.5-litre six with early Bosch electronic fuel injection. It's number 24 and possibly the oldest surviving right-hand-drive one in the world."

Of course, rarity doesn't guarantee a trouble-free purchase but it was too late for Guy - he was already hooked.

"I bought it from a bloke in Brisbane who had run out of money to keep fixing it and I now know why," Guy laughs. "I just loved the look of the car and they really haven't caught on here yet.

"I bought an RACV membership before I drove it home to Melbourne (just in case) but to my considerable surprise it held together and was good to travel in. The suspension was clagged out and it needed a few things done, but it was basically okay."

Some remedial expenditure lightened Guy's wallet considerably, however, as he brought the 635 up to scratch.

"Whatever you think you're going to spend, it'll be double that," he shrugs. "I've done up a few old bikes and there's no such thing as the $1000 job. But that's old vehicles - they kill your wallet eventually.

"It's got new Bilsteins and springs, the head has been rebuilt, and has new valves and we did the injection and ignition and picked up 50 horsepower. BMW claimed 218hp (162kW) when it was new and it's got most of that now.

"The body is really good and has almost no rust, so I'm really lucky there. Apparently rust kills these things because they have a lot of double skins and once they go, they're screwed."

But short-term financial pain has turned into long-term enjoyment for Guy. "I love to drive it. It's comfortable for me, it's got a great ride, it handles nicely, and I just feel good when I'm in it."

1978 BMW 635CSi

Purchased: 2009

Mileage: 150,000 miles

+   "its handling and its rarity"

   "The cost to get it up to scratch"

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