In the 1980s, Gemballa was the record holder for wide cars. Their 500SEC Mercedes was the widest money could buy in those days and Gemballa had very similar plans with the BMW 635CSI M-version. And why not? If something was expensive and it looked over-the-top, in the 80s there were customers for it.


Basically this 635CSI M was given the same wide body conversion as the Gemballa 500SEC Wide body with the same typical air ducts that should cool the huge rear wheels and brakes. The rims are 15" Ronal Racing Wheels sprayed to match the car's exterior. Gemballa also fitted a stiffer suspension to make sure the car could cope with the huge pieces of rubber it sat on. Gemballa usually made custom exhaust systems for their range of complete cars. Remember the six pipes on the 911 conversions (Cyrrus, Avalanche and Mirage), three pipes that protuded on either side of the car, or the four pipes on the wide SEC Mercedes and the 928 Porsche? Well, the regular 635CSI had their exhausts in the middle of the car, which was spectacular by itself, but the Gemballa couldn't do with less than four of these flame spitting concert flutes. Massive!! The exhaust note probably was quite different from the standard car.


Except for the wideness Gemballa cars were obviously know for their top of the range interiors. They were argueably the best custom interiors made in the 1980s. This BMW was no exception: on customers request Gemballa fitted four fully adjustable Recaro C-Seats covered in fabric of choice. In the dash a TV could be installed and there was room left for a high end stereo (as seen on the yellow car).  Strangely this stereo was placed on the right-side of the TV, which made it rather impossible for the driver to operate it. 


The Gemballa-conversion to widebody used to cost 150.000DM (1985). This pricetag was for the conversion of the BMW only, so you had to bring a 90.000 DM E23 6-Series or have Gemballa buy a new one for you, so it all totalled to a staggering 240.000DM. The yellow Gemballa 6-series even went for 275.000DM and was bought by a customer from the U.A.E.. It's interesting to know this very car was found in Iraq in 2003 during the second Gulf-war, presumably owned by Uday Hussein, one of Sadam Hussein's sons.














Text: copyright Bram Corts 2013


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