Blast from the past with the BMW 635CSi

To say that Briton Tom Bell is a BMW fan would be an understatement.

The 39-year-old strategy head of a mining company has owned several rides from the German marque since he was posted here in 2012. They include a 325i, a 525i and a 335i Convertible.

“I quickly found out that the convertible was not suitable in Singapore’s hot and humid climate,” he quips.

He owns two BMWs.

His daily ride is a BMW 730Li, but he is more smitten with his E24, the code name for the first-generation 635CSi Coupe.

His 635CSi is a 1980 model imported from Britain. It was registered under the Classic Vehicle Scheme (CVS), which applies to vehicles that are at least 35 years old, in 2017 by its first Singapore owner, an avid car collector.

“It was an impulse buy,” confesses Mr Bell, who paid $70,000 for the two-door ride in 2018.

His first car was not a Beemer, though. It was a Ford Escort, which he says had to be regularly bump-started. “It was not a good car.”

In Britain, he also drove a Peugeot 306, Volvo V40, Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, Volkswagen Passat Variant and Honda Civic.

It was not until he came to Singapore that he fell in love with BMW. “I like the BMW driving experience,” he says.

That and the fact that he found a local workshop specialising in BMWs, which has kept his cars going with minimum fuss.

• Two fishing rods 
• Bag with fishing gear 
• Two umbrellas

All his BMW cars were pre-owned and outside of the warranty period, making a reliable workshop all the more important.

On the two cars he owns and why he prefers the retro 6-series ride to the more modern 7-series, he says with a smile: “To me, the E24 is the best-looking BMW ever released. It’s also of similar vintage as me.

“From the sound of the straight-six engine to the engaging way it drives, everything about it is analogue. The only thing digital is the clock.”

His wife Isobel and two daughters aged five and seven are less enthusiastic about his classic car, preferring the modern comforts of the 7-series.

Under the CVS, Mr Bell’s E24 can be driven for up to 45 days a year.

“It has a low-stress life and usually serves one of three purposes – a quick trip to the shops, morning coffee meet-ups or a short drive to Sentosa for fishing,” he says.

He adds that his car often gets the thumbs-up from other drivers and is a conversation starter.

“The road is a much friendlier place in a classic car,” he says.

“It’s great when the sun is out, the music is on, with the windows down. It is a fine place to sit in.”

Having acquired a taste for classic sports cars, he is keeping an eye out for a BMW 3.0CS, as well as a Lotus Esprit, a British car.

But he admits that finding one in good condition and at an affordable price remains a challenge. “Older collectibles appear to hold their value well,” he says.

Meanwhile, the BMW 635CSi remains his pride and joy.

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