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1982 BMW 635CSi 'Observer Coupé' - Manual

1982 BMW 635CSi 'Observer Coupé' - Manual

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, if you wanted everyone to know how successful you were, but also actually wanted to enjoy driving. You bought a 6-Series. BMW’s E24 6-Series is a cult classic, it’s beloved. A 13-year production run saw a series of developments and design tweaks, but the core basis that made the E24 so stylish remained.

The E24 was designed by Paul Bracq, whose design back-catalogue includes the W111 Coupé, first-generation E12 5-Series and E21 3-Series. However, in the early 1980s, as a result of a three-way project between BMW UK, MGA Developments and The Observer Colour Magazine, Bracq’s design would receive some quite extensive fettling.

The story of the Observe Coupé is an interesting one then, it started life as a standard brand new 635 CSI supplied by BMW UK to MGA Developments, and throughout 18 weeks, it underwent extensive modifications.

Externally, at first glance, you might not immediately catch them, but MGAD’s goal was to create an electric convertible roof system, that was stowed away in a hidden compartment in the bootlid. To complete the mammoth task, the original roof skin was removed and modified, and a redesigned rear section was moulded from clay.

Once the external bodywork was completed, the all-new Triplex, laminated, heated and tinted glass was fitted. With the push of a button, it would seamlessly disappear into the hidden compartment, and thanks to its neat design, the original car’s luggage capacity was virtually unchanged, whilst the smooth lines helped to improve the base car's aerodynamic efficiency.

Despite the advent of a glass roof panel, MGAD ensured that the E24's structural integrity was unimpaired, and throughout the process, more than 100 panels were modified, and more than 150 new parts were sourced and fitted.

The car’s interior vastly remained standard to a 635CSI with Black Leather seats, a 3-spoke steering wheel and a manual gearbox. The exterior was refinished, in a two-tone grey colour combination, with a one-off splitter and Centra Type 6 wheels.

Post-completion, the car was displayed at the NEC Motorshow in 1982. The stand and display were funded by The Observer colour magazine, and once the show had ended, the Observer Coupé set off on a national promotional tour for BMW UK where it was wheeled out at dealerships and events.

Mike Gibbs retained the car, and in 1990, developed a fixed-roof version thus creating a panoramic hard-top which Mike used until he sold the car in 1993. The Observer Coupé was rediscovered in 2017 and underwent an extensive restoration, with fabrication work, paintwork and more totalling more than £26,000, and in March of 2023, was subject to a 9-page feature in Octane Magazine.

Included with the car is an extensive history file, describing the car’s journey from humble 635CSI to becoming the iconic Observer Coupé.

The extensive service records show just how meticulously this car was maintained with paperwork tracing right the way back:

  • 26/06/1989 -  3,322 miles - MOT

  • 23/11/1990 - 8,849 miles - MOT

  • 08/07/1993 - 9,666 miles - MOT

  • 13/08/1993 - 9,835 miles - Evans Halshaw BMW

  • 21/09/1993 - 9,900 miles - Evans Halshaw BMW

  • 11/11/1996 - 15,954 mile -  MOT

  • 04/02/1998 - 16,205 miles - MOT

  • 16/03/1999 - 16,705 miles - MOT

  • 01/06/2000 - 16,788 miles - MOT

  • 25/07/2001 - 17,087 miles - MOT

  • 09/07/2003 - 17,542 miles - MOT

  • 25/08/2004 - 17,978 miles - MOT

  • 25/08/2005 - 8,156 miles - MOT

  • 29/04/2014 - 18,202 miles - MOT

  • 20/02/2017 - 18,272 miles - LCA Road Track Store

  • 04/10/2017 - 18,366 miles - MOT

  • 18/10/2017 - 18,367 miles - Lee Shannon BMW Specialists

  • 06/03/2018 - 18,407 miles - Hart Motor Company

  • 30/05/2019 - 18,631 miles - MOT

  • 31/05/2019 - 18,631 miles - Crowthorne Service Centre

  • 03/07/2019 - 18,636 miles - Vulcan Motors

  • 06/12/2019 - 18,690 miles - Vulcan Motors

  • 22/06/2022 - 18,889 miles - MOT

  • 06/07/2023 - 19,116 miles - MOT


BMW 6-Series in their own right, are special cars, long bonnets with big 6-cylinder engines make for an enigmatic driving experience, but few come with this much provenance and even fewer are likely to be in a condition as impressive as this.

As with all our vehicles, a full digital folder is available on request containing more images, walk-around videos, and scans of the service history. The car can also be viewed by appointment at our West London showroom. The car will come with a fresh MOT as part of the sale.

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