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Will Someone Help This Desperate German?

1977 BMW 630CSI

I can remember the first time I paid serious attention to a BMW. It was in the late 1970’s, shortly after I moved to a new city where there was a BMW dealer that had just started up in a building that used to be a gas station. BMW was still trying to get a foothold in North America and they did what they had to do to get there. A halo car that helped build BMW’s success in those early days was sitting in the small showroom and I fell in love with it, a 630CSI coupe. Find the one you see above for sale at a very reasonable price here on San Francisco’s craigslist for $2000 or offer.


This 630CSI is an early example of BMW’s 6-series, which many fans think is one of the most beautiful coupes ever built. Part of BMW’s success came from more than beauty. Fans will tell you that it also came from building beautiful cars that did the impossible – they both handled and rode exceptionally well, a difficult combination to achieve at that time. This coupe has BMW’s famous 3-liter straight-6 engine, the ‘630’ in the model designation. Later versions got the larger 3.5 liter engine, and these became the 635 cars. Some later cars received a detuned race engine and became known as the M6. For many people these cars still look modern today, nearly 40 years after they first appeared.

BMW 630CSI Interior

This car has a story and it needs help. The seller inherited it from the original owner, his uncle, and it has been sitting unused for two years. As a result the clutch has frozen and the interior is wet from a minor sunroof leak. The frozen clutch should not be a problem to free, if you know the trick that is, but the leather interior could be a problem if mold or mildew has taken hold. At least the photos don’t show any serious damage to the interior, or rust on the body. The engine apparently fired up and sounded good the last time it was tried.


The owner seems almost desperate to move this BMW on, even as a parts car. That seems too drastic because the engine runs and the car looks too good to be a parts car, but only an inspection in person will tell for sure. If you go, the seller has said that he welcomes offers. If I still had my diesel Ram I would hitch my hauler and go down there myself, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. Anyone interested in rescuing this beautiful Bavarian?


  1. Rancho Bella

    Yes, these are very attractive. One engine rebuild amounts to more than the car will ever be worth. I don’t understand why they never took off in price but a quick look at craigslist and they seem to be a dime a dozen. Their day for potential has come and gone.
    Perhaps it was the heavy car with a 6 that killed it. Imagine a V8…………….

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    • Debbie

      Hi, I went to craigslist to look at this car and contact the owner, however when you click the reply box there is no contact information listed this kinda makes buying it alittle impossible.

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  2. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Agreed, but with the beefy M30, it shouldn’t need it! Overbuilt engine and parts are cheap. The fact that so many are on Craigslist means people are parting these things out all the time. Check out the bigcoupe.com forum to see what I’m talking about.

    The M6, however – that is a hugely expensive car to rebuild and certainly a labor of love if you intend to revive one. Even decent M6s that can be found for $20K or so make it difficult to perform a rebuild and come out ahead (unless you’re doing the labor yourself).

    This car looks great, but water leaks – ugh. I’m dealing with that currently. These things LOVE to let the H20 flow inside…

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  3. Rick

    Have had numerous Beemers over the years, several 2002s including a tii. Back in 1989 I bought an ’81 633 CSI, 5 speed,Silver in color with Navy interior. Paid $11,500 which was a good buy at the time but also a princely sum, But what a nice, tight, fast and well handling automobile. Anyhow, the main thing this car has going for it as a 6 series is the manual transmission, first because manuals are so much fun to drive but also because the automatics are super expensive to repair, would cost several times the asking price of today’s feature vehicle. And old BMW sunroofs always seem to leak. 6 series prices have been in the $2000 range for several years. Prices will take off one of these days, just take a look at where prices have gone on decent 2002s in the past couple of years. Back to my ’81 633, I kept it for two years and got married and sold it and used to proceeds toward the down payment on a house.

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Agreed. The prices on E30s rose quickly in the last 5 years, like the 2002s. I expect the E28s and E24s to follow suit soon.

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  4. Mark in Medford

    Those were $25K when new when $5K would buy a new Camaro. Hard to believe that the 69 Camaro sitting next to it is now worth 10 times what the BMW is worth. I drove a few of those when they were new and it was like driving a new Bentley today.

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  5. junkman Member

    The junk yards around here don’t even want them. I crushed the last 2 I got in 2014. Pass

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    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      …..which drives people like me nuts! It’s so difficult to find good parts cars in the local yards anymore.

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  6. Peter R

    Decent ones that I’ve found are in the $10 -18K range. I’m looking at an original 58k mile example asking $12,900 right now. So if this one needs interior and engine work it is hard to justify the effort needed to make it right

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  7. mbell666

    The photos aren’t good but if (a big if) this is a solid one, at this price it is one of those car you could buy, enjoy as basically a free daily driver for a few years.

    It’ll need stuff fixing on the way that probably won’t be cheap but not too bad if you can do the work yourself. Can’t see the price going anywhere but up for tidy examples so should more than cover your investment and you’ll get to enjoy driving it during that time. Even if the value doesn’t go up you have an enjoyable driver for very little investment.

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  8. DT

    If I still lived in Boulder Creek,I would snap this up.Body looks good ,interior looks decent .nobody said it needed a rebuild,sounds like the worst thing is a frozen clutch,and $2000 OR offer…

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  9. Desi

    Meh, I’m not a fan of BMW. The price to me is far too high.

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  10. Julian

    A great cruising car to drive. Classy looks . I f the engine runs and sounds OK, just keep it serviced and it will go on forever.
    The problem in the UK is to find one without rust, so if this is a dry car someone should grab it quick. Plenty of parts in the Uk, you can drive it every day and eventually the price will increase because so many have been scarpped.

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  11. tom999p

    Back in the early 1990’s in Long Island NY I saw one in the junkyard with a white leather interior including white carpet, I thought that car was amazing. I’ve never seen one with white interior since….

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    • dj

      That was probably an L6 that you saw. They were a more luxurious version of the cars.

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      • tom999p

        dj, you’ve seen one with a white interior?

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  12. Moparman Elliott Member

    If it wasn’t on the wrong coast, I’d really be interested in it!! :-)

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  13. cory

    really? no love for the e21? I liked them better than the e30, and they are well below a 2002 in price. my two e21s were less than $1000 each, both were a thrill to drive. although the first one went up in flames (my fault) on the way to work, the second one was a great investment with minimal costs of upkeep. I love these early 6’s, it just looks like money, like whoever is driving it has plenty of cash, and questionable business interests. I kept myself awake a few nights trying to decide if I should pick up a grey one with red leather (didn’t). but I am a die hard 3 series fan, my current baby is a black/tan e46 330ci with a 186k that drives better than my 48k camry.

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  14. jim s

    so is the car on the east or west coast? i think it is worth a PI as $2000 does not buy much these days. nice find

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  15. OKCPhil

    Had a 5 speed 85 635CSi which we called the PTSD car since I bought a couple of months after returning from Iraq in 2005. Good car but not fast when compared to my Mazda 3. Easy to fix except for things like the driver seat hinges which failed and the drive shafts center link failing. Expensive to paint and all the plastics are starting to disintegrate now. $2,000 is too much with the amount of work this one needs. $500 is better then part it out. This will.make the good ones worth more in the future. Thinning the herd is good.

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  16. RickyM

    When I was 19 I tried to buy a 635CSi that was for sale round the corner from my house, but whilst I could afford the car, I could not afford the £3,000 per annum insurance cost. Shame, as it was gorgeous.

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  17. Tom

    This one was mine . 1988 with 5 Speed. They were nice cars in the day, very solid. Great fast highway car.. They still look good. Back in the day the car got lots of interest and female interest too. Now only a few know what the car is. Modern cars out preform it. I now have a G37 coupe and anyway you measure it, the G37 out performs it. The BMW is a much better built car, solid and has the heritage of BMW, Infiniti will never have the mystique.

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