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Beautiful Baur: 1984 BMW 323i

Manufacturers have dabbled with different takes on the convertible roof throughout automotive history, from the don’t-use-it-unless-you-have-to soft top  (I’m looking at you, Porsche Speedster) to retractable hardtops that have dotted the landscape since the 1960s. With consumers always being in the mood for having their cake and eating it too, the likes of BMW and Jaguar have enlisted aftermarket support to create hybrid models of sorts, combining a full-length retractable roof and the option to use a simple targa-style arrangement. Otherwise known as a Baur, this oddball BMW 323i convertible is listed here on craigslist for $6,000.

Baurs were never officially sold stateside, so that’s why this is considered a European-spec model. That gets you the slimmer bumpers, more powerful lighting, less weight thanks to reduced safety equipment, and usually more relaxed emissions requirements for better performance. The Baur seen here also doesn’t have any sidemarkers drilled into the fenders and rear quarter panels, a common sign that a car has been previously federalized. The seller indicates the Baur has been in long-term one family ownership, so perhaps it was brought to the U.S. following a work or military assignment overseas.

The interior is in fine shape, with a few minor flaws. The original cloth buckets have been recovered in leather, a sensible upgrade that most shoppers will likely prefer. The dash, sadly, has one errant crack, and a crack-free dash would have pushed the value even higher. BMW 3-Series of this generation seemingly all have cracked dashes unless the car has been kept under lock-and-key 24/7, or been treated regularly with a high-grade protectant. The good news is everything else about the cockpit looks pristine, and certainly way better than expected for a car whose roof comes off to let the sun beat down on the cabin and its vintage materials.

Baurs pop up in the United States with some regularity, but they don’t necessarily command big prices, despite their rarity. The seller notes that the clearcoat is fading in different areas, like the trunk lid seen here. The good news is the car will come with service records to help the next owner see how much work has been done over the years, and what may still need to be addressed. Finding replacement parts for the complicated Baur top can make ownership tricky, but there’s a robust following for these unconventional convertibles online. Would you drive an oddball convertible like this? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Wyatt D. for the find.


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Clean it up and take it to Radwood

    Like 1
  2. art

    There are side marker lights, tacked onto the bumper sides. Mimicking the US Spec models.
    Enough to pass inspection.

    Like 2
    • djjerme

      DOT would’ve also added reenforcement behind the euro bumpers (and it was not usually done well or with any kind of respect to being able to revert to original.) There’s also a couple other things DOT would force upon grey market cars.

      I have dealt with them enough and currently have an ’84 323 in the paint shop and been removing they DOT hack job.

  3. JoeNYWF64

    Roof could be lower. Imagine what today’s “drivers” would say about crank windows in a BMW – even in a narrow 2 door.

  4. peter r

    you failed to mention that it shows 181k and that the speedo stopped working in 2005 -15 years ago. The real mileage could be 300+k. Didn’t you think that important to your description of this BMW?

  5. CJinSD

    Does anyone else remember the April Fools Day print advertisements that BMW ran for their 3-series Baur convertibles? They had diagrams showing air jets coming out of the forward edge of the roof opening for the purpose of keeping rain our while stationary. I think I’d rather have one of these than the later full convertibles, which were heavy and didn’t drive as sharply as the sedans.

    Like 1

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