Words & Photos by Henry Phull
Although I have a history and carry an unhealthy obsession with E24’s, I’m not alone in thinking them to be one of BMW’s best everlooking cars. There’s something about the classic shark nose in coupe guise that they just got right back in the 80s. It’s a car that has aged extremely well, too, and you’ll find it’s still appreciated by the vast majority of people – even those who aren’t even interested in cars will admire a 635CSI, stock or modified. Like all shark nose BMW’s, the value of the 6 series is on the rise, which means there’s fewer out there – especially modified ones. To try and preserve these cars, I think the only way to do so is by treating them to air suspension (unless you’re keeping it stock, of course). Jan-Eric owns the beautiful example in the spotlight today… this car has been grabbing everyone’s attention throughout the 2017 car show season, which isn’t surprising – it’s a thing of beauty. I finally met up with Jan-Eric during my stay in Poland for Raceism THE Event back in July, where we spent a Summer’s evening cruising through the city of Wrocław. Eventually we stumbled across the perfect setting, where we may or may not have crashed a couple’s wedding photoshoot... However, when the bride and groom decide to include the car and pose alongside it, you know you’ve done something right.
A 23-year-old electrician from Stuttgart, Jan-Eric has been fixated by BMW’s since he was a kid, and was lucky enough to own an E46 for his first car. “Back then I had to have something low value with a small engine, but at least it was a BMW” he laughs. “I like sporty street cars, and these cars are the best mix of sportiness and classiness in one package, especially the older BMW’s up until the late 90’s”. Since the first E46, he’s had a few others, including an E36 which he bought and modified purely to get some fun out of the straight six M50. Later he moved on to a more sensible car, an E46 330d Touring, which has taken over his daily driving duties. Naturally, this was treated to coilovers and super-concave BBS RC’s.
But let’s get down to more important matters, re: the 635CSI… It had always been Jan-Eric’s dream to own an old school BMW, and in Winter 2015 he began searching for one. The hunt actually started out for an E21 or E28, but every car he came across had far too much rust and required excessive restoration – even though he was in Germany, where you’d expect to have much more choice. With the E24 also being rare over there, he didn’t even consider them an option, until one just so happened to pop up for a reasonable price, and in his hometown of Stuttgart. What a result!
The car was an early example, registered in 1983 and featured the older chrome bumpers. It was in relatively good condition too, only needing a good polish and paint correction, as it was still wearing its original factory paint (Polaris Silver). The car was a no-brainer for Jan-Eric, so the deal was done and he took the big 6 home. He had a plan for his ‘classic bmw’, even before he had found the E24. It had to be slammed on air suspension and shiny wheels. It’s a classic combo for any shark nose BMW… it’s all that’s really required for a jaw-dropping end result.
The majority of the build was completed by Jan-Eric himself, in his garage, with the occasional hand from friends. His first port of call with the project was to address the air suspension. Air ride can be a little daunting when it comes to classic cars, as most suspension companies don’t cater for them, but luckily he found airRIDE-System.pl who fabricated custom air struts for the front and rear.
Once these were built, Jan-Eric could bolt them on directly to the car. To control the whole system, he opted for an Air Lift Performance AutoPilot V2 management package. Finally, the 635CSI could sit on the floor, and drive over obstacles with no issues.
Next, it was time for wheels – the make or break part of any build. Jan-Eric was set on BBS RF’s. After purchasing some basic 8×17’s, he just wasn’t happy with the specs, considering the size of the 6 series, so he started looking into step-up lips to convert the wheels from 17″ up to 18″.
For this, new 18″ barrels were required along with the specialised ‘step-up lips’. However, rather than traditional step-up lips, which have a certain look to them, he discovered some more appealing ‘bubble-lips’ from Slantlips.com, which intensify the look of a 4,5″ lip even more and look rather unique.
With the bubble lips and new larger barrels purchased, he eventually rebuilt the RF’s to 10×18 +5 (front) and 11×18 -2 (rear), using gold hardware, polished aluminium hexes, and repainted the centres in a satin “shadow bronze”. The wheels are paired to 225/35 tyres (front), and 245/35’s (rear).
With the help of his friend Andy at MegerleMetalworks, the fenders were customised to allow for the wider wheels. This gave Jan-Eric the arch-to-lip fitment that he wanted. We rarely see many ‘fitted’ E24’s, as most bagged examples tend to tuck their wheels. This is one of the defining characters of the build and it certainly makes Jan-Eric’s E24 stand out from the crowd (not that there is much of one!).
Jan-Eric finished off the car by replacing the tired factory comfort seats with a complete black sport leather interior removed from an early M635CSI. Along with a wooden Nardi steering wheel, these items transformed the E24’s cabin and finally made it a sporty, yet classy place to be. Jan-Eric’s 635CSI may be a simple build, but in reality, suspension and wheels is all you really need to touch with a car like this. So many people get easily carried away and mess with what the car should look like. Jan-Eric has got it right and seems extremely happy with the car in its current state. That being said, he has mentioned that he’d like to see some more power from the M30B35 engine!