One of the best kept secrets of the automotive world
Cold start issue: traced to a tear in a mass air flow sensor hose; fixed with a piece of premium BMW (only not really) duct tape.
Flickering lights: caused by loose voltage regulator and idiot previous owner; fixed by tightening screws on the alternator.
Cracked rim: caused by idiot previous owner taking apart 3 piece alloys for painting.
Cruise control: Needs module (in the trunk, pending install).
Perhaps one of the most well disguised secrets in BMW history... the E24. I bought mine, an '85 US-spec automatic Zinnoberrot model, for $1900. Passed inspection the very next week, needed new wiper blades.
Exterior: Even with the US-spec 5 mph bumpers, these things are gorgeous cars; with the infamous "shark" lines, they very well may be the best looking BMW's ever made. My Zinnoberrot example has original paint, which since it is a single stage paint job, is easy to bring back to a polished shine.
Engine: The US-spec has a lower compression 3.4 M30 inline 6 engine, good for around ~190HP and ~215LB/FT. It is a torque monster, and provides decent gas mileage; I average around 21 mpg, which for a 25 year old car isn't bad. The slushbox automatic is a bit of a boat anchor, but it still moves out when it needs to, and in a damn hurry.
Handling: One of the most important things to change on any E24, if they still have them, are the original TRX metric tires. New ones are ~$400 each. I run 225-55-R15's on BMW style 29's, and the car handles like it's on rails, with that classic BMW confidence inspiring ride. I can't wait to replace the shock absorbers and lower it an inch or two. This thing is a blast, even with the automatic.
Interior: If equipped, the electric Recaro seats are supportive and comfortable. These tend to wear out with age, but mine was an exception; my seats are near mint condition. The car is fantastically equipped for its age; power windows, seats, air conditioning, onboard trip computer... the list goes on. Amazingly, all of my stuff works. Ergonomics are fantastic. Only one improvement to be made: low lighting. The interior is quite dark at night.
If you look at any E24, be wary of rust; especially around the fenders and rear taillights. Bodywork is expensive, as few replacement panels are available. Mechanically, the 633 and 635 are very durable, with mileage over 200k being the norm. The M635CSi and M6 are entirely different animals.
If you drive a well sorted E24, automatic or manual, US or Euro, the result will be the same; you'll be hooked for life.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 9th January, 2011