When Fonzie jumped the shark on Happy Days, the event sparked a whole new expression for a downturn in quality or desirability. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice BMW may be known as the “Shark Nose” for its pronounced prow, but will its price prove the model has followed Fonzie in jumping the shark?
Interestingly, the 2017 Mazda Miata RF we looked at yesterday, is fairly easily comparable — at least in form and purpose — to the contemporary Porsche 911 Targa. Both offer a sports-car experience, an automatic retractable roof, and, in the case of or Miata, an automatic transmission.
In the case of the Mazda, that automatic proved to be a bone of contention with many of you, with a few averring that every Miata simply has to have a manual. I wonder how you feel about Porsche limiting the 911 Targa to having only two pedals and a PDK? One area where Monday’s Miata diverged from the Porsche was in price, which at a $19,700 asking was about an eighth of what a new Targa might cost. That wasn’t enough of a comparative bargain for most of you, however. Many of you were still smarting over that automatic, causing the Miata to fall in a 58 percent No Dice loss.
It’s safe to say that Mazda really influenced the market with the Miata. So much so that many pretenders to its two-seat throne arose following the model’s introduction. None of those could match the little sports car’s cheeky nature or joyous flying-ability. though. One company that tried its hardest was BMW, which introduced the Z3 roadster shortly after seeing Mazda print money with the Miata. BMW hadn’t done an open-topped two-seat sports car in decades. At the time of the Z3's launch, BMW was focused on sporting coupes and sports sedans as it matured into the company that provides the “Ultimate Driving Experience.”
One such coupe was the E24, which was the OG 6 Series. A design successor to the earlier E9 coupe and sharing that model’s basic profile and aggressive forward-canted nose design language, the E24 defined BMW’s style from the mid-’70s almost right up to the Bangle era. During the model’s long run it saw a number of minor styling updates, along with a major chassis upgrade, switching from one shared platform to another in 1982.
Today’s 1985 635CSi is a late enough car that it rides on the later platform, the one shared with the E28 5 Series. It also sports the largest six-cylinder engine available in any non-M version of the car. That mill is a 3430 cc edition of the stalwart M30. In this model year, that was good for 182 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque. While perhaps not all that and a bag of chips, these engines do have a reputation for durability and buttery-smooth operation.
Behind that butter is a Getrag-sourced five-speed manual, which makes this 635CSi a semi-rare find and a car that will hopefully act as a palate cleanser after yesterday’s automatic Miata.
According to the ad, this Cosmoblau over Pearl leather E24 comes to us in good but not great condition. Visual blemishes are few but noticeable, particularly the chipped paint on the nose and some significant discoloring of the plastics in the cabin. Overall, however, it appears solid and shows no sign of major damage or road rot. Aftermarket wheels underpin, and while not awful, they are a bit of a disappointment considering all the wonderful factory options out there.
Under the hood, there’s a cross-bay strut bar spanning the engine. Everything else in here looks stock, albeit a bit tired. The seller claims the mechanicals to have been “well maintained” by an independent BMW repair shop. Recent work noted in the ad includes a new battery this past summer and a new catalytic converter ($$$!) just last week. This is presently a three-owner car and comes with 184,000 miles reading on the odometer, but seeing as that is broken the actual mileage is obviously going to be a bit of a shoulder shrug.
Whatever the miles, they do show in the cabin. It’s not a terrible place, but there is a good bit of wear evident here, with a cracked dash that can’t be masked by the carpet toupee it wears, and some significant color issues on both leather and plastic surfaces. The caps on the rear buckets are also problematic and could stand replacement. On the plus side, it’s all there and much of the issues could be corrected with little issue or money. The only real question here is what is the purpose of that extra gauge mounted under the dash at knee height?
The car comes with a clean title and a $10,500 asking price. That makes it one of the cheapest E24s on the market that you could actually drive home while rowing-yer-own along the way. That doesn’t, however, make it a sure deal, and that’s what we need to decide right now.
What do you say, is this shark-nosed Bimmer worth that $10,500 asking as it is described in its ad? Or, does that price have you thinking it’s best to keep on chumming?
H/T to Mark Helmuth for the hookup!
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