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Four Door Project: 1972 BMW Bavaria

In the world of vintage BMWs, the E9 coupe tends to get most of the glory. It generally commands strong money is arguably one of the prettier cars the company has made. Lost within this is the Bavaria sedan, which has the stigma of having four doors but is actually quite handsome and a much cheaper alternative to the Mercedes-Benzes of the same era. The Bavaria seen here is a project, and one that has clearly been sitting for some time. It also sports some unfortunate modifications, but that’s a story for another day. The seller is asking $2,500 and you can find it here on craigslist in Elk Grove, California.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rex M. for the find. The Bavaria doesn’t pop up that often, especially with the preferred manual gearbox. We do see them from time to time with the automatic, which isn’t the preferred way to experience one of these boxy four doors. The Bavaria, otherwise known as an E3, had a direct tie to well known importer Max Hoffman, who played a big role in this car coming to North America equipped with the larger of the two engines BMW offered. The 2.8L inline six was instrumental in BMW being recognized as the predominant sports sedan builder in the marketplace, and the Bavaria would set the stage for the next few decades of the German automaker building some truly awesome four doors. This example sports an aftermarket Momo wheel, which is an odd look for an E3.

The seller doesn’t include any details on the health of the standard drivetrain, other than to confirm the obvious that it’s been sitting and doesn’t run at present. The engine bay doesn’t necessarily appear to be partially disassembled, which is a good sign, and the M30 inline six is generally one of the more overbuilt engines you can buy. There are other details that suggest it hasn’t been messed with, from the red cooling fan which is a signature feature of early BMW models and the original overflow tank. I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing to not see replacement parts installed, but at least it hasn’t been half-way torn down and fitted with generic, non-OEM parts.

The for sale sign won’t do the seller much good if the Bavaria has been parked since gathering dust, but perhaps he rolls it outdoors every now and again. The seller appears to have a Fox body parked next to it, and mentions also having an E21 3-Series with good running gear and a four-speed in case you’re looking for a more compact project. The Bavaria has trailed other models in terms of value, but it’s safe to say one equipped with a manual gearbox is a smart buy for the right price. I’m not sure $2,500 is the best place to start, but if it’s rust-free and complete, $1,800-$2,000 seems like a good starting point to me.


  1. Skorzeny

    Whoa, do I disagree Mr Lavery. My favorite car ever is a 4 door BMW, so there is no ‘stigma’ with it being one. Perhaps ‘perceived stigma’.
    Regardless, seller needs to drag this out and get some decent pictures.

    Like 14
    • Derrick Stikeleather

      I have to agree. I (almost) always think that if a car can be had with 4 doors, I’d rather have that version. Even better if you can get in long roof wagon form. Why not have practicality included with a fun car? I generally tend to like the look of a sedan better than a coupe anyway.

      Like 5
  2. Martin Horrocks

    These are doing well now in values as so few remain. they are generally much better-built than the E9 Coupé, a true rust bucket built by Kharman.

    The photos are not nearly good enough to have an opinion, which kind of means “No”.

    Like 2
  3. charlie Member

    Uncle had one, was at the time, a blast to drive, a lot more agile than my ’69 Camaro, could take corners a lot faster, and more safely, and much better built. And note the treatment of the rear door windows – GM copied this on the Cavilier/ Cimmaron cars of the early 80’s.

    Like 1
  4. Milt

    One more time, why spend big bucks for a relatively expensive display ad but not a few bucks on the car wash?

    Like 1
  5. JCA Member

    Wow, this looks solid. Great find. I agree these are overbuilt engines and I bet it would take much to get this one running. Worth $2500.

    Like 3
  6. Marc

    I learned to drive in my dads. He took delivery in Germany. It was fast in the day and anytime I had the chance to borrow it I ripped it. My dad drove it until the rust became too much. A handsome car that was a rare sight back in the seventies let alone now. Having had many of the coupes, the Bavaria was on par with performance but rusted pretty much the same.

    Like 1

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