1985 E24 M635CSi: Kai Xing
1985 BMW E24 M635CSi #1050960
3.5-liter M88 inline six-cylinder, 286 hp/251 lb-ft
Diamond Black metallic
Kai Xing (since 2005)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
While the US began regulating vehicle emissions in the mid-1960s, Europe left automobiles largely unregulated until the 1990s. As a result, Euro-market cars emitted more pollutants, but they also delivered more power, making them highly desirable to US enthusiasts who imported them through the so-called “grey market.”
As a case-in-point, the 1985 Euro-spec M635CSi’s 3,453cc M88 six-cylinder engine puts out 286 hp/251 lb-ft while the 1987 US-spec M6’s 3,453cc S38 puts out just 256 hp/243 lb-ft—a noticeable difference. The Euro-spec M635CSi also got lower, stiffer springs, specially-tuned Bilstein shocks, and 25mm front/16mm rear anti-roll bars while the US M6 made do with a 21mm front bar and the 635CSi’s high-riding springs.
A Euro-spec E24 was out of reach for Kai Xing while he was studying at Embry-Riddle University, and he went through half a dozen lesser BMWs before landing on a US-spec 1986 635CSi in 2002. Inspired by Paul diMauro’s Pacific Sharkfest, Xing and Nat Arnold began hosting their own Southeast Sharkfests. And while Xing was temporarily shark-less, diMauro invited him to borrow his M635CSi for the drive from Carmel Valley to Pasadena for Oktoberfest 2004.
“Would I have let some 22-year-old I’d barely met drive my M635? Never!” Xing laughs. “Maybe it wasn’t a big thing for Paul, but I’ll remember that until I die.”
In 2005, Xing found a Euro M635CSi for sale in Vienna, Virginia. “I was working [as an air traffic controller] by then, but I didn’t have enough money. I was really into the Southeast Sharkfest community, though, and I think my dad saw that. He bought the car for me.”
Built in October 1984, M635CSi #1050960 spent just ten months in Europe before it was titled in Houston, Texas in 1985. Ten years later, it went to the Washington, DC area until Xing brought it to Florida.
“Thanks to Alan Kidson and Michael Spooner at German Car Repair in Alpharetta, Georgia, the car now puts out 267 hp at the rear wheels. That’s an incredible number for a car with 286 crankshaft hp from the factory.”
Other than installing a better stereo and mass air flow sensor, Xing has left his M635CSi stock.
“I love the big coupe concept, and I love the way it looks. I think it’s one of the most iconic automotive designs of its time,” Xing says. “But it’s not just the car. I’m not sure I’d be where I am right now without the super-devoted community that surrounds it. That’s what I really love about the 6 Series.”