Thirty years ago, I didn’t exist. Thirty years ago the BMW M1 was still on the drawing board and the Motorsport division was just a fledgling arm with the 2002 tii to its credit. The inline-six was a phenomenon, but the one that took the credit was the M1, the one that made six-cylinders stacked longitudinally the best thing to happen to baby boomers since The Doors. It sounds strange to most who think V8s are where it’s at, but inline-sixes are what drove me to love BMWs. Compact engines with a four digit number starting with three are what tingled me all along. The 3.0-litre 231 bhp engine on the E46 330i for instance. Or the great 278 bhp 3.5-litre that not only powered the M1, it even took the E12 M5 and the M635 CSi into the stratosphere, and beyond. Heck, I can’t believe that the two six-cylinder engines that I ever wanted to take a shot at would come together.
The protagonist of this story is the car owned by Aniruddh Kasliwal, a friend of BSM. Let me admit, the E60 BMW 530i you see in these pictures was around to play second fiddle to what is a true BMW classic – the E24 BMW 635 CSi. Yes, with the same 3500cc engine that powered some of the great first M cars that I mentioned before. And it doesn’t even feel its age. Mind you, if some sane enthusiasts got together to make a list of the ten best engines of all time, this one has a very good chance of figuring on it.
The idea of an inline-six isn’t new, and especially not to BMW. Sometime in 1917, when the Red Baron was busy turkey shooting over the northern skies of France, an engineer by the name of Max Friz figured that the typical yaw movement of the aircraft was due to the nose heavy configuration of the then-used engines, making them susceptible to crash during takeoff and landing. His engineering skills taught him that the light airframes could do with the use of an inline-six, which was inherently more stable. Not making matters any more complex in post-war Germany, BMW adopted its war techniques into its cars and from 1933 its saga with inline-sixes began. Stability and balance drove BMW to insane heights of engineering, which is why, even today, you find the block kissing the firewall, due to the need to get a 50:50 balance.