Junkyard Find: 1983 BMW 633 CSi

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 bmw 633 csi

The BMW E24 6-series is one of those cars with a vast, uncrossable gulf between the values assigned to it by Internet Car Experts and those assigned by Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Experts. The Internet Car Expert has seen an ’87 635CSi in nice shape with an asking price of $25,000 on Craigslist, and therefore he knows that even a rough one is worth ten grand, minimum. The Hardbitten Burned-By-Real-World-Purchases Car Expert once paid $2,500 for a fairly solid E24, put $1,500 of parts into it, and sold it for $2,750. The junkyard doesn’t lie, and I see E24s in cheap self-service yards all the time, so often that I don’t photograph most of them. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, has just enough of that Late Malaise Era appeal, with its overtones of imminent Able-Archer 83-triggered nuclear annihilation (plus a manual transmission), that I decided to shoot it.

It’s hard to imagine BMW adding these cheezy tape stripes, even back in 1983, but they appear to be factory-applied.

The E24’s guts were pretty much the same as those of the E28 5-series, and so the 6 tended to last for a respectable (for the early 1980s) number of miles.

You don’t see many of these cars with manual transmissions, since low-level S&L scammers and white-powder salesmen back then mostly wanted automatic-transmission luxury to go with their German-coupe style.

This one is pretty rusty by Denver standards, so it probably spent some of its life in the Midwest.

181 horses out of this 3.2 liter Big Six engine. That sounds weak these days, but was impressive enough in 1983.

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  • Andy D Andy D on Nov 21, 2013

    The the rusty rear wheel arches was the death knell for this Shark . The 181K is barely broken for the M 30 engine. Manual transmissions were more common in the earlier 533s 633s and 733s than the later models. With the Bentley manual for the E 28 and on line support, the E 24 is a great car for a DIY'er. They are very easy to work on. But they will put in the poor house if you have to pay a mechanic.

  • Mieden Mieden on Dec 03, 2013

    Would you believe I owned one of these until two years ago? 1983 and all! I got it cheap because it needed paint and a tune up, but it was still VERY solid (only had 90K miles on it. I rolled it flat-black (even the wheels), serviced it and drove it 100 miles everyday to work and back for well over a year. Even went on a 900 mile trip with it. I was a bit too aggressive down my uncles long, rutted, gravel driveway one drunken night and split the body weld going up the strut-tower to the windshield (right on the seam). It felt noticeably "looser" after that so I pawned it off on my neighbor (another car guy, who knew exactly what he was getting himself into) and picked up a Mercedes C126 in its place. Two weeks later it was stolen from him and showed back up missing EVERYTHING three days after that. They even took the lug nuts! E24s were great cars, and not particularly expensive to own if you can turn your own wrench. Being 28, I never thought id get the chance to own one and Im very happy I did. Great driving car... and that shark-nose is lovely to see everytime you get out of it. Now, if only I could get my 560 to sip gas like the M30 in that E24 Id be ok...

  • IH_Fever Another day, more bloviating between the poor downtrodden union leeches and the corporate thieves. But at least pantsuit guy got a nice new shirt.
  • IH_Fever I can't wait to see an Escalade on 24"s blow the brakes off of the competition!
  • Redapple2 Why does anyone have to get permission to join? Shouldnt the rules to race in a league be straight forward like. Build the car to the specs. Pay the race entry fee. Set the starting grid base on time trials.?Why all the BS?I cant watch F1 any more. No refuel. Must use 2 different types of tires. Rare passing. Same team wins every week. DRS only is you are this close and on and on with more BS. Add in the skysports announcer that sounds he is yelling for the whole 90 minutes at super fast speed. I m done. IMSA only for me.
  • Redapple2 Barra at evil GM is not worth 20 mill/ yr but dozens (hundreds) of sports players are. Got it. OK.
  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?