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Just Needs TLC: 1971 BMW 3.0 CS

Nowadays, some cheap cars look like expensive ones and some expensive ones look like cheap ones. I have spied what I thought were BMW crossovers only to find out, up close, that they were something quite a bit less auspicious. Back in 1971 however, when you saw a BMW on U.S. shores, you knew it was a BMW, especially a 3.0 CS, like today’s find. IMHO, it was a great design back then and has withstood the test of time. This 3.0 CS is located in Malibu, California and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $28,750. There is a make an offer option too.

Known by BMW as the E9 and offered between 1968 and 1975, the BMW 3.0 CS succeeded the 2800 CS and preceded both the 3.0 CSL and 2.5 CS. A coupe body style was the sole offering and total volume across the E9’s eight years of production was about 30K units.

This 78K BMW is not exactly what it appears to be. The seller states, “The VIN states this is a ’71 2800cs European spec car…One of the last 5 euro models produced and has all factory 3.0cs upgrades from the assembly line (3-liter engine, larger front ventilated disks, rear disks, hood squirters, etc…) basically a 3.0cs with 2800cs VIN“. How odd! Nevertheless, the engine installed should be a 180 HP, 3.0 liter, in-line, six-cylinder engine. The seller claims this car as a “good runner” but it might be worth the effort to verify the engine identity – the VIN issue just seems suspicious. Gear changes are courtesy of a four-speed manual transmission.

The exterior of this coupe still shows well in terms of body panel alignment and a lack of rust. This car was originally finished Amazonas Green, but it’s now primer gray. The seller states that there is no rust in the doors, rockers, floors though the front fenders have been replaced. The chrome wheel arches, except for the missing one on the passenger front fender, however, show as new and the bumper chrome is still strong. The alloy wheels really stand out and are still quite sharp looking!

The seller mentions that he has removed the carpet to check for floor pan rust and he was going to replace it – I guess that’s now not going to happen. Anyway, the floors checkout, and the rest of the interior has that great Teutonic bearing about itself. There are no signs of split upholstery or a cracked dash pad and the instrument panel’s gauges are still clear. Other than the carpet, this BMW’s interior probably requires little to no attention. Of note is the seller’s statement that this 3.0 CS is “without the terrible front power windows!” Sounds like his experience with BMW’s power windows has been less than ideal.

The seller suggests, “Needs a little TLC and paint“. That seems pretty accurate, some paint, and a new carpet and the new owner should have a nice, competent driver. Fully restored versions of this car can sell for very high five or low six-figure prices so this example may be pretty reasonable, especially considering that the seller has a “make an offer” option on his listing. I’ve had no experience with a 3.0 CS but I am familiar with the successor 633 series, another great looking and driving BMW but maintenance-intensive with a high cost of ownership. So, how about you, has anyone had experience with BMW 3.0 CS ownership?


  1. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    If the body checks out as well as the VIN then it’s a great buy. Ironically it’s the same color underneath the faded silver paint as the on listed a couple days ago. I would restore it to the original color and source a factory air cleaner and maybe carbs. I thought they were originally Zenith units not the Weber carbs.

    Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Charles Sawka

    The Zenith carbs were always a bit fiddley. The Weber’s are an acceptable alternative. Keep he zeniths in a box for the number freaks. I like e9’s when they are running strong !

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo kam1271

    My father had a ‘74 3.0CS… it was a phenomenal car. He sold it back in the early 1990’s when money was tight and the whole family regretted it. A few years later, he bought a ‘73 Bavaria (the four door equivalent) that needed some mechanical work (clutch, water pump, and carb rebuilds). The project got stalled when a couple of the water pump bolts snapped off in the block. The car sat for a number of years and I ended up buying it from him (I had done all the work on it anyway). I still have that car and revel in the fact that I can essentially get the same driving experience for like 10 to 15% of the current E9 coupe values. The Zenith/Solex carbs are a little touchy, but I make sure I keep the ethanol gas away from them. Don’t get me wrong, I think these cars are gorgeous, but I’d much rather stick with my non Karmann sedan and have extra funds for a more diversified collection of cars.

    Like 7
  4. Avatar photo Chinga-Trailer

    Back in the ’70s Peter Fonda, Kenny Loggins, David Cassidy all had silver 3.0 Coupes. I know because I drove them all! But if this car is in Malibu ocean airborne rust should be a very big concern! But these are marvelous cars and I concur – wind up windows are desirable and confirm it’s gray market origin.

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo Frank D

    Older BMW’s are nice and simple to work on. Throw some money at it providing it not rusted out and your a winner! Prices are climbing on the older 2002’s and a few other models.

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo smtguy

    I agree that the VIN situation here bears some investigation, but I disagree that an E24 633CSi is maintenance intensive. Mine is no more maintenance intensive than any other old car. BMW designed E24s were to last and they do seem resist rust better than E9s. I too have owned a ’71 Bavaria, and other old BMWs. They are fun well built cars designed when engineers rather than accountants had sway over car development.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo losgatos_dale

    Great cars, meant to be driven.
    I still have my first (the SF/LA Auto Show car from 1969!) and a couple others, the other post’s mention of the same-era sedans is spot-on, the sedans are actually better-handling street cars and a lot less rust prone (the Italians invented rust and licensed it to Karmann who built the coupes.) There is NO denying that the coupes are timeless beauties! But please, drive them? Life is too short!

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Daniel Gavin

    In my opinion…..3.0CS is thee most beautiful model BMW ever produced.
    PS: The 507 was also one of their best.

    Like 5
  9. Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

    How many of these have I passed up because I thought they were too expensive! How about a perfect 1972 E9 sunroof manual in baikal blue ( I think) for eleven grand in the early nineties. I kick myself. Also a perfect ’71 Bavaria……dark green..three grand. ACH!

    I agree the coupe is one of the more beautiful designs in recent automoble history. As for this one, looks euro legit with the roll up windows………but……all things being equal and the seller being able………..it would bring a whole lot more money……even beyond the lotta money the seller wants, if it was pulled apart and painted. So what gives? Maybe a flip

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Marc

    There is a lot of bondo on the strut towers. These areas are the first to rot. At the asking price I’d run away. I’ve had 4 of these cars. Lovely looking but not so thrilling to drive and extremely difficult to chase rust on.

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo tompdx

    I owned a ’72 Euro 3.0cs way back in ’84-86. It was such a beautiful car that people often asked me if it was BMW’s newest model. Strikingly stupid question circa 1985, given the small, elegant chrome bumpers. It was a wonderful car for me. Other than routine maintenance, I paid nothing to keep it running. I did have to pay for rust repairs in both front fender seams (where the inner and outer fenders meet).

    The guy who sold it to me (in LA, of course), was a writer for MASH and obviously a very funny guy. Regarding the power windows, he told me that in a few weeks I will have contracted “BMW thumb”. He explained that the little plastic cover in the upper front of the driver’s door panel could be removed to provide access to, and give the plastic gear on the drive motor an assist, with your left thumb while simultaneously hitting the center console window switch with your right index finger. He was right – I had gear indentations in my left thumb in 3 weeks.

    It was polaris silver with a dark blue, vinyl and velour interior. Loved that car. Had to sell it to buy my first home: $12,500 (the car, not the house!). Wish I still had it.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Steveo

    Decklid gaps not right. Passenger door sagging? Hood wonky? All in primer for why?

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Ganjoka

    Aside from the vin issue, the wavy/uneven left shock tower mount and the undercoating appears to be hiding some rust issues. Proceed with extreme caution!

    Like 0

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