I love California’s car culture.
A trip to the Golden State guarantees sightings of great cars, both old and new, and in pristine condition – thanks to the mild weather and friendly roads.
On a recent trip to California, I parked by two BMW M6s, one a pre-facelift E24, and the other a pre-facelift E64 coupe.
And in the cool silence of the morning, you could swear the cars were whispering to each other, long lost friends reunited and exchanging stories about where the time had gone.
Maybe even sharing a laugh at the expense of a nearby Prius?
The conversation would have flowed easily. Despite being very different cars from a technical standpoint, they share a similar story and context in the automotive world.
Both cars were considered radically styled when they debuted. The controversy over Chris Bangle’s recent 6er design (among others) is not unlike the reaction that met Paul Bracq’s E24 design in the late 1970s.
Looking at the cars side-by-side, the older car looks more purpose built, it’s crisp pleats tailored neatly over the machinery like a bespoke suit. Truly a testament to the design mantra of the day: form follows function.
The newer M6’s body work has been let out a bit, like a pair of pants who’s wearer has gained a few pounds – those few pounds, in this case, being a myriad of electronics and amenities.
The E64’s rounder forms give it the appearance of being a much larger car, despite their similar proportions. And this seems apropos, given that the sheet metal conceals much more.
For starters, there’s the engine…
Proof that if the new M6 has put on a few pounds, it’s not all fat. This extra muscle rockets the current-gen M6 from zero to sixty, 2.3 seconds faster than its predecessor (4.5 vs. 6.8 seconds). And as Hans Stuck has showed us on the autobahn, with the top speed limiter removed, the E64 pulls strong to 200 mph.
“Motor” is BMW’s middle name, and when they build a great one they’re quick to find as many applications as possible.
Now, as then, the M6 shares with its M5 brethren. In the 1980s, they shared a modified version of the M1’s engine. Today, the M5 and M6 share a monstrous 5.0-liter V-10.
Happily, the modern M6 occupies the same spot in automotive culture today, as the E24 did two decades ago. Both M6s combine luxury with racetrack credentials, and exist in limited numbers for enthusiasts willing to pay a premium for something more exclusive than a 5.
The E64 is proof that the German GT concept has stood the test of time and been successfully reinvented for modern day.
But perhaps even more impressively, the E24 itself has stood the test of time and enjoys a devout following in enthusiast circles to this day. Drivers have spent thousands of dollars to keep E24s on the road, both during the 6’s absence during the 1990s, and even now that it has been reincarnated.
For all of its classic attributes, it’s easy to see why. And here’s hoping the E64 enjoys the same longevity. But unless BMW botches the E64’s successor, I don’t see it happening.
At the rate that technology is changing in cars, and because leasing has trained drivers to demand the latest and greatest instead of savoring the joy of ownership, it’s hard to imagine the current-gen 6er garnering the same cult status twenty years from now.
For more on the E64 M6, check out ADL’s BMW Enthusiast Segment >>>
Editor’s Note: Hardy Drackett worked for BMW of North America from 2007-2008. Automobiles De Luxe featured Hardy as an E60 5er owner in our BMW Trio segment which aired on CPTV.