Lately it seems like used car prices are ridiculously high – especially if they’re soap-painted on the windshield of what would be considered an enthusiast car. However, higher-mileage, used luxury cars still tend to depreciate aggressively and sell for relatively short money. In fact, some of them could be bigger bargains than ever if you’re willing to brave luxury car parts costs. One particular car that’s piqued my interest lately is the 2011-2018 (F13) BMW 640i coupe, and its extra-long sibling the F06 BMW 640i Gran Coupe.
As most people know, the running costs of a car generally reflect its original sale price. In other words, higher-end hardware costs more to run. You can mitigate this a lot if you’re willing to DIY upkeep, though – labor costs are very often a big part of your repair bills. We’ve actually covered that quite a bit, from my colleague Chris Rosales’ story of N54 engine woes to the Car Bible I wrote about the 1 Series!
Since BMW is like Honda, in that its cars across the lineup are lego’d together out of common parts, these 6 Series models share so much with the 1, 3, and 5 Series. That means there should be plenty of insight for the prospective, bright-eye-and-bushy-tailed DIYer, as well as good parts availability. Parts costs still include the proverbial BMW tax, but luckily there are so many companies who stock OE-or-better, less-expensive alternatives. A quick search on FCP Euro’s site reveals this clear as day.
But before I go off on a tangent about shortening and adding service intervals to increase a BMW’s reliability, dear reader, let’s discuss why you’d want one of these 640is in particular.
They Look Great
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but really, I think in general they could be considered as objectively good-looking. Personally, I love the way they look. Long muscular body, pronounced wheel arches, short overhangs, sharp lines, an honest-to-goodness Hoffmeister Kink, sporty wheels, and so on. Oh, and a very modest kidney grille compared to some current BMWs.
It even looks good as a gran coupe, otherwise known as a four-door! I don’t think I’d rock the one of those due to it looking less like its distant race car cousin the M6 GT3, but for anyone after four doors, it’s a very sleek look.
They Drive Well
I’m just focusing on the less powerful (and more affordable) 640i here, not the M6 or 650i. The 640i is powered by BMW’s single-turbo N55 engine that makes around 315 horsepower and 343 horsepower, though it seems like reviewers and owners across the board swear it feels like more than that. That could be rooted in how BMW historically published their wheel horsepower numbers, rather than what the engine makes at the crank as everyone else does. Regardless of claimed output, these cars can hit 60 MPH in 5.4 seconds, which is amply quick, though not mind-blowing by modern standards. It’s still enough to feel exciting, though.
What’s nice about the N55 engine is that it solved a lot of the woes that N54-equipped BMW owners experienced, mostly due to being single turbo instead of twin-turbo and having a few engineering revisions.
Reviewers generally dug how the 6 handled back when it was new, and owners seem to agree. It handles well for a big car, though isn’t as knife-edge as smaller sports cars. That’s OK though, it’s a luxury grand tourer with light steering, a suppler ride, and even some drive modes to either liven things up or chill ’em out. It shifts quickly thanks to its often-regaled ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox, can be had in rear or all-wheel drive, and even returns good fuel economy if driven easy: as much as 31 miles per gallon!
They’ve Depreciated Below $30,000
For the price of a new Honda Civic, you could have a made-in-Germany opulence-mobile.
Brand-new, this era of 640i retailed for a little over $80,000 before option packages. Now they’re a little over a third less, with around-or-less-than 100,000 miles. Mileage-related reliability doesn’t seem to be that big of a concern if it’s been well taken care of (more on that below), and it still looks like a late model, latest-in-luxury Bavarian sled.
Though as always, when it comes to buying a good used one, service history, investigating the VIN, and due diligence regarding its condition are paramount. These are not the hardest cars to maintain, but man, I imagine things could get costly if they weren’t taken care of in the past. Small issues that get delayed by owners avoiding high service costs in the short term can turn into bigger problems down the road.
I’m also curious if someone would lose much money if they bought one with say 90,000 miles, drove it for 40,000-50,000 miles, kept it clean and well-maintained, and then sold it. There are potential loan payments, taxes, insurance, registration, upkeep, gas, etc., but maybe they’d only lose a few grand off their original purchase price? I’m hedging really hard here though… the loss might be more like $10,000.
Surely Not Worse Than Any Other BMW of the Same Vintage
Again, to avoid as many “ugh BMWs have the worst reliability ever!” comments as I can, like all complex high-end cars, keeping one healthy all comes down to knowing the issues and how to avoid or fix them. It seems like a good chunk of this car’s ailments is solved by just changing the fluids more regularly than most people do. Also, walnut-blasting the intake valves to stave off carbon buildup, since these cars have gasoline direct injection (we discussed GDI in general terms in a previous post you can see here, and this cleaning process in another post here).
Oh, and you’ll need a willingness to keep a more watchful eye and deal with tighter quarters under the hood.
But what’s nice is since all BMWs of the same period share the same engines, transmissions, switchgear, interior bits, infotainment systems, steering wheels, and more, parts and knowledge are plentiful. There are certainly some differences, such as the 6 Series having a more opulent and luxury interior, but otherwise so much is shared.
For anyone after a big, comfy luxury car that has depreciated immensely, is fun to drive, looks sharp, and doesn’t seem like it would be too much of a nightmare to work on, this could be your ticket!