Bavarian Barn Find: 1974 BMW 3.0CS

The E9 BMW remains one of the more collectible models among the company’s vintage lineup, but that doesn’t mean every version of this pillarless coupe is fetching top dollar. Like so many other cars from this era, changes in later editions had an adverse effect on values, and most notably on the E9, it was the transition to the huge, park bench-like safety bumpers that replaced the svelte original chrome units. In general, any E9 is desirable if it’s not rusting from the inside out, as Karmann wasn’t exactly known for its rust-proofing techniques. This E9 is a later edition with the automatic transmission and is listed here on eBay with an opening bid of $35,000 and no action yet.

The seller reports this example was in long-term storage before being driven to their dealership. The opening bid is a strong number for one of these, and while the E9 market, in general, remains quite hot, I just can’t see too many folks salivating at the chance to own one with an automatic and the big bumpers. I suppose it comes down to your priorities: if you’ve been chasing rust in your own project for years, and see no end in sight, it could be tempting to buy a known good shell and swap the good bits over. Still, it’s a fair amount of work and every restoration shop out there will see you coming a mile away with an E9 in tow – get ready to put their kids through college.

Truth be told, it may make more sense to convert this car to a manual transmission. I’ve seen this conversion done enough at this point that I’m sure it’s practically a textbook exercise for some specialists, and in general, BMWs take well to manual swaps. The interior of this car is quite nice, and that’s a testament to its long-term storage arrangement that it didn’t end up becoming infested with mice. The dash, door panels, carpets, and seats all look to be in great shape, and while this isn’t the sexiest color combination out there, it still looks better than ninety percent of the cars on the road today.

The seller states that it was driven to their shop and “….checked out.” I’m not sure what this entailed, but there are clearly some parts missing from the engine, including the air cleaner assembly. It also looks to have a severed air hose to the left of the valve cover, so I’m assuming whatever documentation the next owner receives will include a listing of the missing parts – certainly, for an opening bid of $35,000, I would hope so. Still, this seller is likely assuming anyone serious enough to ask those questions would also be willing to pay for a pre-purchase inspection and purchase the cars with their eyes wide open. Would you swap this E9 to a manual gearbox or just use it as-is with some basic sorting?


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  1. Gloin

    Why 2 marker lights on the front fenders?

    • DSteele

      The first one is a turn signal the rearward one is a Side Repeater.
      Side Repeater’s have a specific location per requirements
      Most are located behind the wheel arch. Maybe the stylist was drunk?

      Like 1
      • djjerme

        It’s DOT additions.

        The ROW didn’t have those hideous abominations tacked on along with those diving board bumpers.

        Like 2
    • Ron Wakefield

      As a four-time E9 owner, automotive journalist and BMW specialist, I can clarify the side-light question. The forward, larger amber is the parking/turn-signal lamp, present on EU and US versions. The rearward, smaller one is strictly a reflector, there because US regulations required it. A pity, because it’s so messy-looking. Surely BMW could have met the requirement with a single lamp unit, but in those days many European marques did it this cheaper way. When I repainted my ‘73 3.0 CS, I simply removed the reflectors from both sides. Sorry, Uncle Sam.

      Like 1
  2. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    Is that the residue of sticky tape on the passenger door?? From plastic used to keep water out from leaky / missing window or trim?


    I’ve always thought this one of the best looking cars BMW came out with

    Like 10
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Very desirable cars but write up correctly flags up the care needed to purchase.

    This car has redeeming features but seems a bit too expensive for how it looks and sounds in the ad.

    If converting to manual, why not upgrade to a later BMW 6 engine at the same time? Keep the originals, though originality isn´t really the issue with a nice driver..

    Like 2
    • tompdx Member

      Agreed. These cars with engine swaps are often more desirable than a matching numbers car. I’ve always wondered why Jag enthusiasts (I admit to being one) are so obsessed with matching numbers, while BMW guys (I’ll admit to that, too) and Porsche guys actually prefer performance-minded engine swaps.

      Like 3
      • alphasud Member

        Exactly. Just look at the backdated Porsche craze with large displacement 6cyl. engines. Like the Singer

  5. Matt cent

    I had one of these … and I junked it ..who knew and one of those is a blinker ‘German clearance light and the other is a side light , some were just a reflector

    Like 1
  6. Pat Gill

    Not hard to swop back to chrome bumpers, well worth doing, easy to swop to five speed manual, gearbox from any M30 engine should fit, only issue would be the lack of a speedo cable drive if the box is post 1982,

    Like 1
  7. Solosolo Member

    I don’t think the air cleaner is missing, but most likely removed for photographic purposes.

    Like 1
  8. Bill McCoskey

    Without seeing the stickers under the hood, I can’t tell if they are in German or English, but I suspect this is a grey market car, brought over from Europe & the DOT & EPA changes made for importation, hence the multiple lights on the front fender.

    I worked for BMW in the warranty department when this car was new, and I’m 99% certain that for 1974 BMW North America only imported the CSI fuel injected cars, because of the EPA requirements.

    That said, it’s still a very nice car, but a future owner should do the homework so they know if this is a USA car or a grey market car. It makes a difference when ordering parts, because you need to provide the VIN when ordering parts. If the car was changed to USA specs, and the VIN says European parts, you may end up with the incorrect parts.

    Another plus is the tool kit; it’s mostly complete!

    Like 2
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree on the tool kit Bill. I have two, both missing tools. Where do they go? Owners kids take them for there bikes?

      • Bill McCoskey


        I may have some of the tools left over from my BMW days. When I used to find one of these [or a sedan] wrecked in a junkyard, I would buy all the tools out of the tool cases. [Yeah, it was I who did that!]

        If you know which wrenches you need [mm size and length of wrench], and the other items you need, I’ll check.

        Like 2
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Hi Bill, thanks a ton! I am stuck in my wheelchair for a couple more weeks. When I can get out to the garage I will check. Thanks again, take care, Mike.

    • HBChris

      Hoffman never imported the CSi as it wasn’t tested for smog or couldn’t meet smog requirements. This is not a grey market car as only North America/US got the 5 mph bumpers, the rest of the world had the slim chrome bumpers.

      • Bill McCoskey


        All I can say is that I worked for BMW North America in the 1975-79 period, in the warranty dept for dealers, and all the 3.0 cars we had were CSi versions, both coupes & sedans. And I understand those are NA bumpers, they can be retrofitted.

        Like 1
  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Mar 02, 2021 , 8:13AM
    Starting bid:US $35,000.00[ 0 bids ]

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