The Original BMW "M3" - 1982 BMW 635CSi Observer Coupe

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.

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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.

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