1978 BMW 6 Series CSi 3.5 litre 6 cylinder petrol from Australia and New Zealand
Subtle, stylish, well-made, well-combined
Headlight wipers never worked; central locking problems; water pump; old plastic bits that fall off; air conditioner needed re-gas; had to replace corroded cylinder head, rear universal joint (which involved a tail shaft rebuild), drive shaft centre bearing, suspension ball joints, and muffler. The engine is starting to use oil, but has good compression. I've also had the power steering hose burst, spraying the exhaust with oil.
BMW dashboards don't handle Australian ultra-violet rays very well, but removing and replacing the dash involves removing the windscreen, so it won't be done for a while.
A particular fault of this model BMW (this one is chassis #24; my previous one was chassis #191 of the RHD cars) is the brake boosters. I had to get them overhauled on both cars. They now have Australian PBR innards. Cost over $1000 each time.
My previous BMW 635 was pretty well thrashed when I bought it and in driving it from Canberra to Brisbane, it went well, but used 4 litres of oil. I'd no sooner got home than it developed an intermittent computer fault and was off the road for 2 months.
It also had body faults as a legacy of several indifferent owners.
I sold it at a loss to get my present 635 because I was impressed with it despite its shortcomings. The owner of my new car was selling at a loss too, so it sort of balanced out. The new car had a much better history than the other, in particular an owner who had owned it for 14 years and loved it. It had replaced his Porsche 911 Carrera.
It's a subtle car, needing a lot of stirring of the dogleg gearbox to make it go. It thrives on revs, but can be driven sedately. Its subtlety extends to its looks (it is pale metallic green), and as I'm not a show-off, it suits me. It is comfortable, an excellent long-distance cruiser (2 adults, 2 teenagers and luggage for 900 miles in an easy 13 hours, once) and only excessive on petrol if worked hard.
If it is worked hard, the response is very business-like. The engine adopts a purposeful note, the gearbox brings on the power at just the right level, the body squats and hugs. The only time it is scary is in the wet, but that just might be those hard old Michelins.
The only faults it now has, apart from the cost of TRX tyres, are age-related. After all, it is probably one of the oldest in the world.
There's nothing about it I really dislike. Barring human error, I'm sure, with careful maintenance, and commensurate driving, it'll be with me for a long time yet.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 6th November, 2003