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BMW E24 Six Series - Interiors

Early Cars

The E39 3.0CSi had been an expensive car and had a well made interior with real wood panels and good quality materials. But it was never intended as a luxury car, rather a well appointed fast coupe. Initially the E24 was in the same vein but there was more emphasis on luxury and less on performance. That changed for the better with the 1978 launch of the more powerful 635CSi but the six still retained an upmarket cockpit.

Many of the early models had nice velour or cloth seats with leather being an expensive option. Supportive and more comfortable Recarro style sports seats became available and were of a slightly different style to those on later cars. But the rear seats were a real eye catcher, when combined with the optional rear headrests they made the back of the car look more like a pod from a spaceship. A fold down centre arm rest was standard and the covers on the parcel shelf doubled as speaker chambers and oddment storage.

BMW E24 dashboard

Early E24 dashboard with central speedometer.

The interior door handles were the same style as the E21 three series and will be unfamiliar to owners of 80s or newer BMWs. The same can be said of the dashboard binnacle with it's central speedometer flanked on the left by fuel and temperature gauges and on the right by a tachometer. In an arrangement familiar to E12 five series owners the analogue clock was in the middle of the ventilation controls, later it became a digital clock.

There was a large central storage bin in the centre console but this was blanked off if air conditioning was specified. The a/c had it's own blower motor and was both complex and very heavy, it's added 50kg to the car and the Behr compressor was extremely heavy.

There were four electric window switches. The rear set were for the rear windows which weren't fixed but dropped down to open about half way, there wasn't space for the glass to go down further. A sunroof was optional.

BMW E24 Alpina B9 interior

B9 cloth interior with Recarro seats and Alpina striped cloth.

An innovative check control was fitted to take the space ship image a bit further. At the push of a "test" button it searched for faulty bulbs, brake pad wear, low screenwash or coolant.

The boot was enormous and fairly deep but a high rear lip didn't help access, a small price to pay for extra body rigidity. It was carpeted throughout which was luxurious for the time as most high end cars only had a bottom carpet and left exposed metal on the wheel arches and sides. And of course the famous BMW toolkit was mounted on the inside of the lid. It held screwdrivers, water pump pliers, spanners, a spark plug tool and T-handle, spare bulbs (a legal requirement in Germany), fuses and a cloth to clean your hands. I seem to recall a space for a spare spark plug too.

BMW E24 tool kit

The very comprehensive tool kit.

The 1982 Facelift

The mid-82 facelift mainly affected the dashboard and centre console. The now familiar twin gauge fascia was adopted with central warning lights, temperatue and fuel displays. The check control panel got a more modern make over and the heating and ventilation controls adopted the classic 80's three lever style. The five green LEDs of the Service Indicator (SI) appeared on the E24 for the first time.

BMW E24 dashboard

New dashboard style in an M635CSi with air conditioning.

The gear lever surround was less prominent and had lowered edges. For automatic cars with the Electro-Hydraulic (EH) gearbox an S/E/1-2-3 know was positioned next to the gear lever. As before the central storoage bin with it's wood floor and rubber ribbing was present although it was more commonly replaced by the air conditioning system.

The door panels were redesigned and the newer style opening handles fitted. Their armrests now hid a long "hidden" pocket under a hinged flap.

BMW E24 sports seats

The rarer style of sports seat in a 1985 M635CSi.

Sports seats were available in both fabric and leather, and a very fine grade of leather at that. You get used to the quality of BMW leather but when you see the rubbish some other manufacturers use you realise why it's more expensive. The normal seats received a few minor design tweaks. Electric adjustment was available as an option for both with a memory feature on the driver's side.

BMW E24 rear seats

Standard rear leather seats without head rests.

On the M635CSi the battery was moved to the boot to improve weight distribution but there was still loads of space. It's cover had a handy tray with a deep lip on top for small items.

BMW E24 boot trunk

Cavernous boot of an M635CSi, battery cover on right.

The Highline and L6

The US 1987 L6 and the UK Highlines were famous for one thing - acres of leather. Everything was leather; door skins, dash, knee bolster, glovebox lid, centre console. The stitching and quality of materials were excellent. On the Highline, but not L6, the leather was rouched in a different pattern from the previous cars.

The L6 had a secondary rear aircon unit with a chiller section. The leather door skins meant that the door storage compartment was deleted and I'm fairly sure the parcel shelf storage was used just to house the speakers.

BMW E24 highline interior

Luxurious Highline Motorsport Edition interior, superb craftsmanship.

The 80s were a time of opulence and extravagance, no other car symbolized it as much as an E24 Highline. Rarer than a Porsche 911 and more practical yet with an (almost) usable rear seat and huge boot. It might not have handled like a 911 but in the real world it was in the same league for speed and for those who drove in heavy traffic an automatic was available.

BMW E24 highline rear seats

Highline rear seats with rouched leather and head rests.