Admit it — when you think of the BMW 6 Series, it’s the long prow of the mid-80s 633 or 635 CSi nosing into your brain, not the oddly-shaped 2019 640i xDrive Gran Turismo. That sleek Reagan-era coupe can continue to roam throughout your mind for years to come, as it won’t have any competition.
For the 2020 model year, the last bearers of the 6 Series designation fade from the American landscape, joined in their vanishing act by an unloved 3 Series four-door with a liftback.
The glorious green Alpina coupe before your eyes nets three firsts for the Rare Rides series. It’s the first coupe coated in any shade of green paint, the first BMW, and indeed the first German vehicle in the series (I don’t count last week’s Rolls-Royce as German, though you might).
Time for some eye candy.
It was rare enough that you may have only seen the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo in pictures. You’re all the better off if you weren’t forced to feast your eyes on the crime against automotive design that was the sixth-generation 5 Series’ hatchback.
With the new seventh-generation 5 Series, there is no Gran Turismo, at least not yet. But after suspending the coupe from the more expensive 6 Series range, BMW is once again expanding the 6 Series lineup with, that’s right, a Gran Turismo. Oddly, the 6 Series that’s least deserving of a GT tag now wears the badge, but fortunately this new BMW GT isn’t as offensive as the last.
Where is the 6 Series Gran Turismo positioned in the BMW hierarchy? Imagine, if you will, a buyer who wants more space than a regular BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe (which is actually a sedan) but wants greater cargo flexibility than the BMW 7 Series affords; a buyer who doesn’t want a full-blown family friendly X5 “SAV” but requires a liftgate of some sort; a buyer who finds the X6 too tall. BMW now has a car for that buyer.
In America in the fall of 2017, that car will be the $68,895 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo, propelled by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six.
A little piece of resurrected BMW history has again faded to black, leaving the automotive landscape missing yet another traditional two-door coupe. BMW confirmed to Road & Track the 6 Series coupe ended production in February, apparently unbeknownst to everyone, ending a model that harkened back to the glorious 633CSi and 635CSi of the 1980s.
Fear not, 6 Series fans — the four-door Gran Coupe and Convertible live on, though likely not for long. The boys from Bavaria are readying a potential successor to the 6 Series in the form of a new 8 Series lineup, the first of which could appear in late 2018. A grand tourer-style coupe and convertible positioned above the 7 Series (but below Rolls-Royce) is BMW’s plan to counter an ultra-luxury offensive from rival Mercedes-Benz.
BMW doesn’t want to spread its models too thin. Understandable. BMW isn’t a charity — if it was, there’d be a 440i coupe in my driveway with a trunk full of 18-year-old Glenfiddich for which I paid not a cent. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with the 6 Series Coupe, staying competitive and profitable sometimes means leading a doomed animal behind the barn. And these days the animal is never one with four doors or a voluminous cargo hold.
The tears fall like rain from motoring purists. Dread fills their hearts. More killing is on the way.
We already know what vehicles Americans love, and most of them are trucks. It’s expected that annual Ford F-Series sales will be astronomical, but will come in just shy of a million units. It’s as boring as it is patriotic and tells us nothing of the future; we already know the United States will keep buying trucks. An underdog tale is always much more interesting. So what are the less popular vehicles we’ve perpetually ignored that are suddenly beginning to worm their way into our hearts?
Bloomberg compiled sales data through this November to see which models posted the biggest swells in demand and which models have been cut the deepest by America’s changing tastes. While it is impossible to say with certainty which are a flash in the pan sensation, a genuine comeback or marketing blunder, the vehicles on this list are all pieces in the puzzle that shows us what the automotive industry should look like in the near future.
Mercedes-Benz has four convertibles now. As does Audi, with a fifth in a new R8 Spyder not far off. BMW has five ‘verts you can buy. And if you count the various configurations of Porsches from which you can choose, the German sportscar maker has nine — nine! — convertibles. (Heck, there are seven different versions of the 911 now with large sections of roof missing!)
But the story was quite different in 1982.
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.
What do you get when you add two doors to a 6-Series coupé? Last year the answer was: a 7-Series. Of course that was last year, now BMW has an all-new answer: the Gran Coupe. Of course, calling your latest sexy sedan a “coupé” is nothing new ( Mercedes has done it since 2004), what is new is the process by which this “coupé” arrived. Normally manufacturers introduce a new sedan, then within a year they delete two doors, lop off some trunk, give it a sporty grille and launch it as a coupé and convertible. The 6-Series Gran Coupe (GC) on the other hand is what happens when you take a an expensive coupé and add doors. In BMW speak, this process created a four-door coupé. Confused yet? Allow me to explain: apparently all you have to do to create a coupé is remove the sashes from the windows. (This means that Subaru buyers have driven coupés all these years and didn’t know it.) Can the sexy 6-Series beat Mercedes at their own CLS game? Let’s find out.
It seems unlikely that anyone in 2037 will be inclined to keep a 2012 BMW 650ci in such excellent condition as the 1987 635CSi pictured above -and even if such a thing happens, will said 650i make it that far into the future without a catastrophic electronics failure rendering it a two-ton paperweight? Although Jack and Steve have offered their own context on older cars, mine will be different. I’m still not yet legally able to rent a car on my own. This 635CSi was built before I was even born, so driving it gives me a glimpse into the past, but without the benefit (or handicap) of contemporaneous context.