Manual Swap Candidate: 1973 BMW 3.0CS

When we find examples of BMW’s pretty E9 coupe, they’re usually rusty heaps past the point of redemption or precious survivors worth every dime of their high selling price. This 1973 3.0CS seems somewhere in the middle, and was on its way to being restored before the project stalled out. It’s an automatic car with all of the parts for a 4-speed conversion. Find it here on eBay with no reserve and bidding under $1K at the moment. 

The 3.0 is located in Miami, Florida, and presents fairly well. It has been repainted a factory BMW color but there is still evidence of rust blossoming in places. This is not an uncommon phenomenon for these cars as rust has always been an issue, but this one at least appears in control. The interior has clearly been redone at some point, and while the automatic is a bummer, the parts for the manual swap are included – a definite selling point.

Despite being repainted, there’s still evidence of rust either re-appearing or simply new rust that has surfaced after a lengthy storage period following the repaint. The good news is it doesn’t appear structural at this point, but an in-person inspection is definitely warranted. The seller’s low opening bid and no reserve may also reflect acknowledgement that the body is worst than in appears in photos. The good news is, despite its appearance in photos, the missing trim and other bits are supposedly included.

The motor is claimed to have run when it was parked, and looks very complete. Details are reassuring here, as it still sports the correct red fan and what looks like a relatively recent radiator. The air cleaner is missing but likely in the pile of included parts. The 3.0L inline-six is still free, and fortunately, a fairly long-lived mill so getting it to fire again shouldn’t take too much coaxing (parts availability is still fairly robust, too). The seller leaves it open as to whether this is a parts car or restoration candidate; how would you tackle it?


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  1. Dolphin Member

    These are definitely beautiful, but this one will need a LOT of help—parts, mechanical, paint, and probably body too. I hope the trim that’s missing isn’t unobtanium, which some of the trim on these cars is. You might have to get an expert to fabricate that from scratch.

    These usually have a lot of rust inside the structure, so it’s a gamble doing one of these. Even being in Florida near the coast, it might still have rust. I would have wanted underside shots and clear shots of the suspension towers instead of shots other, good examples of these cars.

    The upside is that it’s a no-reserve auction that started low. I would still want to inspect it myself before taking this project on.

    I have driven one of these that had the automatic and performance was very smooth but underwhelming, so I can understand the urge to change it over to a 4-speed. But better save all the original parts for when you sell so the new owner can put it back if desired.

  2. Scott Tait

    If your going to convert it to manual …do it and yourself a favour and use a 5 speed from a later model straight six they fit right in as the engine blocks and mounts where near identical only the prop shaft needs to match up

    • will

      definately use a later Gertag 5 speed

  3. pat gill

    I have three of these, one auto, one a CSiL 4 speed manual and one converted to 3500cc and 5 speed, best BMW ever? maybe not but the best you can still find IMHO! Pat

    • Dolphin Member

      Pat, I would easily agree with these CSs being “second best looking BMW”.

      I would have to put the 507 at the top of the best looking list, but I definitely understand your attraction to the CS.

  4. Buick Fan

    Those trim parts are a big concern…being chrome plated brass, they are easily damaged, if there at all. Wish I was closer to inspect it…

  5. Maestro1

    Dolphin, excellent remarks and thank you, I agree. Jeff, another good write up.
    Absolutely get close to the car to disclose its rust issues and then make a decision. I am on the Left Coast with a lot of congestion so frankly I’d keep the Automatic. I’m at that stage where rowing a 4 or 5 speed gets old in traffic. On the open road it’s a different story. Parts for this car are available through several BMW independent aftermarket types who advertise in the motoring press. Assuming there are no major tragedies you are North of $8000.00 as a driver.

    • Steve

      so, you would consider buying a car like this to ruin by wering it on driving in commuter traffic…

  6. Rex Kahrs Member

    Manual, automatic, does it really matter when the car is this cool? I mean, are you gonna do stop-light drag racing after restoring the car? Of course not. I’m with the Maestro…shifting my ’75 2002 is getting tiresome in traffic, and on the highway you stay in 4th, so why not an automatic?

  7. scottymac

    Loved these cars from the early Seventies on, closest I’ve come in forty years is a 1961 700 coupe, bought from a junkyard for $1,000. What’s unique about BMW, I discovered, is that every so often, they will do a limited run of parts for their old models. In the last three years, I was able to buy a new right front fender; all six side trim strips; and new brake drums for my 700. Not associated with either company, but BMW Mini of South Atlanta, and Maximillian Importing Company have been tremendous helps in chasing down and securing parts for my car. Now, if the ex were to die and I got that half of my retirement back, I’d probably be looking for a low mile 850CSi.

  8. Fiete T.

    Here is where people scream. LS swap…

    • Steve


  9. Steve

    Are the Betty Boop floor mats included in the sale?!?! hmmm…

  10. DonC

    Nov 20, bidding is $6300. I was tempted to drive to Miami, but not now.

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