Gray Market Greatness: 1980 BMW 635CSi Slick Top 5-Speed – SOLD!

by | Apr 2022 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

May 1, 2022, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The grass is always greener on the other side.  That saying resonated throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s as the European versions of desirable cars featured smaller bumpers and more powerful, less smog-controlled engines. Well-heeled Americans who wanted the exclusivity of driving new European versions of cars spawned a Cottage Industry of “Federalizers” that specialized in converting European-spec cars enough to pass U.S. Customs.  Their products became known as Gray Market Cars. One such company was Midwest Eurosport which successfully imported this European-spec 1980 BMW 635CSi originally listed in April 2022 on Craigslist in Bedford Village, New York. Not only does this example look much better than its U.S. counterpart, but it also features the much more desirable 5-speed manual and is a “slick top”, which is the modern nickname for cars without sunroofs.

Currently offered for $32,900, comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their BMW priced between this guide’s #2 “Excellent estimate of $32,000 and its #1 “Concours” appraisal of $51,100.  Oddly, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls well above this guide’s #1 “Excellent” estimate of only $19,000.  As a third data point, Classic.com summarizes 65 sales in the past five years averaging $20,986 with a low of $2,338 and a high of $62,795.

Produced for thirteen model years from 1976 through 1989, BMW’s E24 was the company’s first generation of 6-series Grand Touring coupes.  Produced solely as a two-door coupe during its entire production run, the original 6-Series relied on a variety of BMW inline-six engines for power. The front suspension consisted of MacPherson struts while the rear suspension relied on independent semi-trailing arms. BMW engineers fitted E24s with a recirculating ball power steering system.

In North America, BMW launched the 633CSi in September 1977 for the 1978 model year) which replaced the original 630. In United States/Japan specification, the 633CSi featured a 181 horsepower version of the M30B32 engine.  Unavailable in the U.S. at the time was the hotter 635CSi, which was powered by BMW’s M30B35LE inline-six.  Not fitted with a catalytic converter, this engine produced 215 horsepower.

The Classic Heros YouTube Channel provides this excellent Buyer’s Guide on what to look for when considering the purchase of a vintage E24 BMW 635CSi:

For many years after Gray Market automobiles entered the used car market, they were shunned for the inability to get parts or mechanics to work on them. Prices suffered as a result. The Internet all but eliminated that objection and today these cars enjoy stronger values. Not only is this 1980 BMW 635CSi a rare treat, but the presentation of this car is beyond reproach. Based on the pictures provided, you could drive this example to a BMW show and have a strong chance to win your division.

Here’s the seller’s detailed description:

“Rarely can one find such an original and unmolested example of the legendary BMW 635 CSi Coupe Sport for sale anywhere in the world, never mind right here in the beautiful backcountry of Bedford Village New York, only 42 miles north of Times Square.

Such is the case with this exceedingly rare and totally original Slick Roof (sunroof delete) European delivery Model E24. A total of 5803 Coupe Sports, hence the CS designation was ever produced from 1975 thru 1989. This Karmann Design body design is highly sought after especially in its European Delivery form with its short chrome front and rear bumpers and a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox. Fit with power steering and electric windows it is a highly desirable combination of options.

When the term Survivor is properly and honestly applied it can only mean only one thing. The car sits on the ground today the way in which it left the factory in Dingolfing Germany some 40-plus years ago. Of greatest importance is the condition and quality of its Fiord Blue paint. Dazzling, front to back!! No repairs ever, no damage, and zero dreaded rust. No scratches, no dings no pings, even the original windshield defies its age!

In recent years the word patina gets thrown around. An immediate examination of the car reveals that this E24 sets a high standard of excellence. Open the hood, then you are in disbelief of the condition of the engine bay. The massive shock towers stand straight and tall, a tribute to German engineering. After 40 years this matching numbers engine and drivetrain sound, look, and perform as it was meant to be. Its 215 HP classic straight-six powered by the most reliable Bosche Motronic makes this one the perfect combination.

Based on the E12 5 Series platform this German Grand Tourer handles, shifts, and performs as it should. The car just saw a major service at the renowned shop of Bimmers Only in Bedford Hills to the tune of over three thousand dollars. This is a turn-key purchase. The light ivory leather interior gracefully shows its age as does the Wilton carpeting and Mohair headliner. Thankfully its original AM/FM pushbutton radio works just fine.

If an E24 is on your wish list, this is the one. I am including its original 5 alloy wheels and steering wheel with the sale of the car at a most reasonable price of 32900 dollars. 

You will not be disappointed with this outstanding original survivor 635 CSi. Again, call or text John, Best wishes!!”

Show or go: What would you do with this Gray Market 1980 BMW 635CSi?  If so, comment below and let us know!

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