Pure Klasse: 1973 BMW 3.0CS E9 Coupe
Bimmer like this is the perfect foray into the world of vintage motoring.
As the 1950s came to a close, BMW was still a provincial company. Despite the global enthusiasm generated by the stunning 507 roadster, the company had some big steps to take before becoming the automotive world brand we know and love today. The 3.0CS was one of those big steps forward. Today, examples such as this one we’ve come across on Bring a Trailer are an excellent way to own a piece of BMW history.
The E9 chassis ran from the mid-1960s and well into the 1970s. BMWs Neue Klass (New Class) line of sedans and coupes kept BMW solvent after their issues in the 1950s, and the 3.0CS evolved into one of the cars that helped define BMW. In fact, it may be the first car to help define BMW in the terms we know it now as a modern automaker.
Essentially, BMW took the New Class 2000 C and lengthened the wheelbase and the overall length of the car to fit in a straight-6 engine and create the E9 chassis. The first model was the 2800 CS and CSi. Then, in 1971, the engine got bored out and had twin carburetors added to make 180 horsepower for the 3.0CS, and 200 horsepower for the fuel injected 3.0CSi. The result was a stylish, comfortable, and engaging car to drive. When it went racing, the CSL version won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1973 and spent the rest of the decade
BMW built a lot of 3.0CS models and even now, the prices don’t tend to get crazy despite its pedigree and historical importance. Of course, mint condition low mileage models can go for big money. But, if you want something that’s very cool to look at, cool to drive, and easy to work on yourself, then examples like this do crop up and don’t tend to get out of control on bidding like later and more obvious models.
This one does have some red flags, but if the chassis welding is as good as suggested, then the bodywork and interior look good enough for getting up to scratch relatively painlessly. The aftermarket camber kit and Bilstein shocks can be easily replaced if they don’t actually improve the ride.
For the right price, we really do love the idea of the 3.0CS as a piece of vintage class for a weekend, or even daily, driver. It’s more than 40 years old and looks as good as anything that the high-end European manufacturers were building at the time, and has the beginnings of the BMW recipe that would become a benchmark for the coming decades.