Features

Jeff Couch's 635csi

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

“Every possible reason you could think of, is why I absolutely love driving this car.  The way it looks, the way it sounds, the way it performs; it strikes all the right chords” said Jeff with a smile on his face and a Stella in his hand.  “But one thing I really enjoy is when people stop to tell me a story about an E24 that was in their life.”   While this is not an uncommon occurrence for classic car owners, unlike the average car such as VW Beetles, Ford Mustangs or 2002s, the E24 was a financial accomplishment.  During the height of Reaganomics stateside, the E24 was in the ‘I made it’ car category. 

People stop Jeff to relive stories of how their fathers or uncles acquired one when their business or practice finally did well.  “That’s the part that always gets me.”  No different from today, except for more options available, there are power coupes from all over the globe.  As car competitors go, Italy, Germany and England were renown for their performance, beauty and comfort,  but there was something so alluring about the 635csi.  The appeal was that the styling cues, power, and reliability were just as good as its more expensive competitors.  Even more so, those aforementioned combined with the reality of a spacious and practical four-person interior transformed the purchase from more than just a weekend trophy.  Not only did they have something to show for what they had accomplished, but it was equally as useful on a daily basis.

Jeff’s E24 carries a great story with it too.  It was 2012, and at the time Jeff had just acquired his third consecutive E46.  A reliable, mildly modded 325 manual seat, stripper was about to be replaced for daily duties by an Oxford Green M3.  With no use for two daily type vehicles, he and his best friend, Tyler, decided to make a trade.  At the time, the E24 was being daily driven by Tyler, but he wanted something a little newer with more creature comforts.  Needless to say, the E24 was not in the current shape you see here.  On the opposite hand, Jeff’s interest was heavily leaning towards a restoration project.  He wanted to pull it off the road and make it a project car he could enjoy for years to come.  With the equal benefit of both parties met, they agreed on the trade and off she went into Jeff’s garage.  Week in and week out Tyler and Jeff would wrench on the car replacing each part on their own.  Conveniently for Jeff at the time, he worked for a BMW dealership so he had the tools and access only employees had to find the obscure parts necessary to get her back to what you see here.  “Why did I buy a trim piece for $270.00 that has been sitting on a parts shelf in the middle of nowhere for seventeen years and that is one of three left in the world and to put on my car even when it wont increase the value? I did it because the car [expletive] deserves it." Every week, a little piece of paycheck was put aside to go towards the NOS parts off the shelf.

This car started out its life in Texas and eventually made it up the east coast making stops in VA and CT throughout it’s ownership.  Having past experience working at a bodyshop, he saw first hand how uncontrollable rust can spread.  Having said that, as Jeff got deeper into the restoration he noticed the lack of rust anywhere on the vehicle.  He realized he did in fact choose the perfect candidate for a long term restoration project.  Cleaned and prepped, Jeff took care of the full underside of the car with underbody coating.  The shell was repainted in the factory Zinnorot, but unlike the original finish, the car is now two-stage with a proper clear coat.  While it is not factory equipped or correct any longer; that deep, dripping, wet red looks like you can jump right in.  All new OEM trim was installed around the car along the outside of the car as well as on top of the trunk with the spoiler.  The front bumper shocks were altered to tuck the nose in slightly and give the shark front a more aggressive demeanor.  

The body is not the only area of the car that was updated.  Mechanically this car received a full overhaul from Jeff and Tyler.  An M30 B35 head was sourced, then decked and port matched for the IE headers and was hot tanked to clean completely. A fresh 292 degree Schrick cam was installed to give Jeff the ‘stop light rumble’ he was looking for.  The Supersprint exhaust took seven weeks and thirty emails to get, but the notes it produces anywhere in the power band paired up to the Ireland headers makes the wait and troubles worth it.  To keep her cool in the hot, summer, traffic months, a Wizard Performance radiator was installed with a Spal fan set thermostatically to kick on and pull air through the radiator at 180 degrees.  While he still retained the earlier motronic fuel injection and barn door, they routed a cold air intake to help cool everything down.  Most parts were powder coated in wrinkle black to keep the engine bay looking clean factory, without drawing any unwarranted attention.  Along with the cooling system components, new OEM gaskets and hoses were also replaced.  Upon installing the Ellipsoid headlights for better nighttime visibility, other wiring was rerouted and corrected for improved power and ground. 

The entire drivetrain has been refreshed.  The shifter linkage and bushings, rear axles, guibo and center support bearing were all brand new along with a resealed differential.  To give the car a better stance, Jeff and Tyler installed a set of Bilsteins all around paired with custom rate springs and IE height adjustable kit.  Increasing the stopping power with new pads and rotors,  stainless steel brake lines were also added.  The interior remains original as a whole with the front seats, rear seats and dashboard untouched.  The gauge cluster has been fixed and updated due to previous failure while some other little bits like the rear deck speaker trays have been replaced with NOS pieces.  Although the woodgrain steering is the only non factory item in the interior, the classiness of it far outweighs the originality lost.

Jeff’s 635csi falls on the fine line of restoration and modified.  A four inch thick binder with complete service history from time of purchase in Texas, 1985, throughout Jeff’s detailed build, the car’s life has not only been restored, but thoroughly documented.  The updated parts only improve the car as a whole and take zero away from its essence as a shark nose power coupe.  His execution was perfect by not only in bringing a car back to life, but making it relevant to today’s power and performance standards.