- Post is under moderationJoin us this week as we venture into the plush leather seats of the ultimate retro techno-toy: BMW’s 8-Series. In order to pay proper tribute to the veritable king of rapid luxury, we’ve tracked down Taylor Patterson’s pristine example of the line-topping, limited-production #BMW-850CSi-E31 .
While #BMW was revealed to have been making a bonafide go at an #BMW-M8 variant of the big grand touring coupe back in the early ‘90s—and in fact the company’s sole box-flared beast of a prototype still exists, complete with carbon-fiber wheel covers—that car never made it to the masses, or at least to that portion with the taste and means to acquire such a car that would have likely carried an MSRP somewhere in the Ferrari territory it was aimed at.
Luckily for those people though (and for the second and third and fourth owners), M still left some incriminating fingerprints on the #BMW-8-Series-E31 , and as with most stews stirred by its hand, the result was an unmatched vessel of prowess that they simply called the 850CSi.
At the time of its reveal in #1992 , the peer group for this car was almost nonexistent, and on a more abstract scale, there have been very few in its wake to attempt a similar blend of substance and poise. It never claimed to be a sporty coupe, yet it could outperform many of them. The car’s true domain however was a lengthy trip with the room to show off how comfortable 100+MPH can be; this was the kind of car whose essence was understated, yet its presence never went unnoticed.
Though any form of the E31 chassis was and is a genuine rarity, the CSi stood even further apart. At the time, this was the end-all, be-all, the award-winning stew of a high-tech ecosystem paired to a taut motor that could push the impressive package well past the imposed safety speed threshold of 155 MPH. Further boosting the desirability of the CSi model was the inclusion of special staggered forged #M-System wheels with the distinctive “throwing star” bladed covers, a more robust and direct suspension, extra interior options, and a host of upgrades to the exterior paneling, as is the fashion for cars with the M treatment.
It was a truly special car, and its production run reflected that. Exorbitantly expensive, and unable to continue production in line with updated emissions standards, only 1,510 units of the model were produced the world over. And to add enthusiast clout to such rarity, each of these cars came fitted with a six-speed transmission bolted to the back of a 5.6-liter #V12 stamped with the fastest letter in the alphabet.
The 380-horsepower heart that resides under the hood of Patterson’s — and every — CSi has an interesting family history, and can claim to this day its title as the rarest production engine in a BMW road car. In a reversal of the typical German logic, BMW’s M-tuned and -built motors will often trade their “M” designation for that of an “S.” Such is the case with the S70B56 found in the CSi. Variations of this motor — which was essentially a pair of straight-sixes fused together — would go on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright, in both the McLaren F1 GTR, and in BMW’s own #V12 LMR.
Too often the #BMW-8-Series is categorized in that group consisting of once-expensive luxury cars that are now prohibitively costly to maintain, and so are left to wallow, undriven. Sure, it checks a lot of those boxes (the V12 E31s have an ECU per half-dozen pistons, which is just a piece of the massive amount of interconnected systems in this car that required the creation of a bespoke network to operate), but somehow it just doesn’t belong in the dealer lots full of S-Classes with all their trick bits already broken. Perhaps the 840Ci automatic that’s been given a hard life is beyond the rational point of saving, but cars like Taylor’s immaculately displayed CSi prove that the time when these cars become “dated” is still a long ways off yet.
It’s understandable that one can look at something like the #BMW-850CSi and mistakenly view it as a compromise between two worlds, as an object somewhere on the muddled boundary between the disciplines of Motorsport and luxuriant indulgence. Of course it lives at such a meeting point, but the very fact that it does bring together these disparate worlds into a coherent package is the evidence that the last thing at play in a car like this is compromise.
Revisiting what made the first #BMW-E31 a high watermark for the burgeoning world of luxury GTs in the 1990s makes us supremely excited for the modern interpretation of the flagship Ultimate Driving Machine, but no matter what comes next, the #BMW-850CSi-E31 will always be significant for what it stands for, and how good it looks doing so.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationJAWS 2 Ten years ago we featured this E24 in its original incarnation but now it’s back and meaner than ever. We’re going to need a bigger magazine… Words and photos: Andy ‘Sharkey’ Starkey
/ #JAWS-2 UK air-ride E24 #BMW-635CSi-JAWS-2 / #BMW-635CSi-Highline-E24
The iconic Spielberg movie, Jaws, put a whole new spin on suspense and horror, and we have never looked back. This movie was responsible for making an entire generation of film fans squeal, hide behind their popcorn and give them involuntary bowel movements. It was such a success and a landmark in cinema history that it spawned several sequels. Now, I have a problem with the whole sequel thing. If you have made something good, I guess it’s a given that you want to continue the success and do it all again.
That’s all well and good if the subject matter can cope with the return, and if the public want it. The big difficulty for the moviemakers is that we’ve already seen the shark, the villain, the hero or whatever in the first one; we’ve had the shocks, the cheers and the laughs. This usually results in a very loose link to the first instalment which develops into almost the same story but with more blood, scares, laughs, bangs or car chases; all a bit disappointing really.
There are exceptions of course: Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers and naturally Mr Bond – all have had continual success with their ongoing escapades and adventures, and that’s all because the key character has what it takes for audiences to keep coming back for more. They all have charisma, attitude and presence, which is exactly what this E24 has in abundance and this too is something of a sequel.
We think you’ll agree that this particular 6 Series possesses the kind of credentials that any movie icon would give their right arm for. That’s because this #BMW-635CSi-Highline is a continuing story of ownership and development. It even graced the pages of this very magazine some ten years ago and was dubbed ‘Jaws’ by us at the time. For once, this is where a sequel really has paid off, although maybe sequel isn’t the right word, a ‘continuation’ is probably better…
Way back when, this 635 was owned by a certain Kabir Miah and both he and his brother Lala had a very particular idea for this car in mind. The shark theme was to be played out by having the original paintwork in a two-tone scheme; grey on top graduating into a much paler off-white towards the sills, just like the skin of a shark. The front wings also got the ‘big fish’ look by having a large, striking set of gill slits added. These were not just a stick on adornment, either, these gills were actually pressed through the wings and the finishing touch was the addition of the Jaws number plate.
That was then, but what about now? To start with, the car now belongs to Lala himself. It may have been Kabir’s car but Lala was the one to make the transformation happen both ten years ago and now. This is wholly because he’s a fully trained painter. In fact he co-owns and runs a Birminghambased styling business, LA Modz, specialising in window tints and wraps, so he’s going to know a thing or two about making cars look good. He still does some bodywork but, as he told me: “Tints and wraps are so much cleaner to work with.”
As you have probably noticed the, two- tone paint job has gone this time around in favour of clean, bright Nogaro silver with a fabulously deep gloss. The trademark gills and numberplate still identify the car as the original Jaws but now a lovely set of rims highlight the new look.
Lala does have an eye for detail so the choice of wheel that was to achieve the desired effect had to be right, and boy, are they right. They started out life as a set of M System II Style 21 ‘Throwing Stars’ but they’ve been made into a special set of bespoke three-piece splits by CR Customs in Poland. The guys there have added extra diameter and width, taking them from lowly 17s to a whopping 19”, with the fronts measuring 9.5” wide while the rears are now a massive 11”. The hardware has also been plated in 18ct gold and the wheel nuts had nifty covers made for them from 12 bore shotgun cartridges.
The interior has been redesigned this time around too; the tired black has now been replaced with luscious terracotta leather. Lala has taken the lead from an M5 he’d seen with a Fox red interior and rather liked the contrast. The style and choice of covering carries on with modified and decluttered doorcards and centre console. The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold and the stark difference between some of the retained interior scheme and the new is striking. Hats off to Autotrims UK for a sterling job. The whole interior theme has been topped off by the addition of an MTech 2 steering wheel and the all-important shark tooth hanging from the mirror.
Ten years ago most suspension setups comprised springs and shocks but today air is where it’s at and it’s all about getting your car so low that sometimes you think you could sneak under a snake’s belly wearing a top hat. With its low roof and sleek look, the CSi is the perfect candidate for air and dropping it to the ground accentuates those long, low lines. Lala’s done something very smart here too; sure the air-ride gets the car down low but the clever bit is the use of a specially made M3-style chin spoiler and the fitment of, would you believe, Volvo 850 side skirts.
These additions make the whole profile look even lower and very sleek. As Lala explains: “The idea with the spoiler was really to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth, but it does lengthen his nose.”
His nose, did you say? “Definitely,” Lala says. “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too.” Looking at the car now after that statement, you have to agree it does look masculine. It has a sharp, angular feel to it and we’re sure that’s pure testosterone coming out of the exhaust…
Having a wrap expert on-hand would make you think that this car would be littered with the stuff but on initial scrutiny you’d say there wasn’t any wrapping going on at all. Well, you’d be wrong. Look a little closer and you’ll find something very subtle, but very nicely done: the window surrounds. It may not look much but, while all the glass was out for the paint job, Lala took all the mouldings that fit between the glass and bodywork, and wrapped them in a fabulously deep gloss black wrap. Not only does this look really neat, but you just have to think of how much of a nightmare it must have been to do.
Externally the look gets further enhancements with the fitment of American side marker lights, smoked headlamps, taillights and badges. The window glass has been replaced with some from a pre-1985 model, purely because the glass had a tasteful bronze tint to it (unlike this 1989 version). This was then made deeper by adding another layer of tint, thus creating a totally unique shade.
How many times do you feel a tad disappointed when you’ve read all the interesting guff about the fancy bodywork and the trick bits only to be told that the engine has been left totally standard? Well, brace yourself, because this motor is pretty standard too but, before you go all ‘I told you so’ on us, remember one thing, this is a 635CSi which has the lusty 3.4-litre ‘Big Six’ under the bonnet. That’s over 200 feisty ponies in there wanting to get out so – why mess with something that good? Lala has added an induction kit, though, and a bespoke exhaust, making the tuneful straight-six sound even better, from air going in to exhaust gases coming out. To top off the whole package the standard 635 brakes up front have been swapped for the beefier ones from an 840.
With the subtle changes, bespoke additions and attention to detail, Lala has given us a worthy sequel to his original Jaws, and just when you thought it was safe to go back on the road… This is real proof that sequels can work and work well, providing the main character has what it takes, of course, and this 635 has exactly that.
“The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”
DATA FILE #Air-ride / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #M-System / #BMW-E24-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride-E24 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , induction kit, stainless steel exhaust system, four-speed auto gearbox #ZF-4HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) custom three-piece #M5-M-System-II-Style-21 ‘Throwing Stars’ with 3.5” (front) and 4” (rear) polished lips and 18ct gold-plated hardware, 235/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Air Lift Performance air suspension, 840Ci brakes (front)
EXTERIOR Full respray in BMW Nogaro silver, gloss black wrapped window surrounds, pressed metal gills in front wings, custom E30 M3 chin spoiler, Volvo 850 side skirts, pre-1985 bronze window glass with additional tint, American side marker lights, smoked headlights and tail-lights
INTERIOR Re-trim in terracotta leather, modified doorcards and centre console, #M-Tech 2 steering wheel, custommounted #AutoPilot-V2 digital air-ride controller, single #ViAir compressor, single air tank, 2x #Pioneer Champion Series 12” subs
“The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”
The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold…
“Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.