Monday Motivation: 1970 BMW 2500

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent my weekend on the road in my ’73 BMW Bavaria driving from the Bay Area to Los Angeles and back, and everything was going swimmingly until, about 18 miles from home, all of my lights and electrical accessories started going out in dramatic fashion, with much popping and smoke and concern for personal safety given that I was traveling over 70 mph on a busy but poorly lit section of interstate well after dark at the time. On top of that, I managed to puncture a tire while pulling onto the shoulder, so after a tow the rest of the way home, I have a rather pathetic looking Bavaria that won’t start on the street in front of my house. Needless to say, I could use a little motivation to go out and face that dumb car today, and for me a good form of encouragement is to remind myself of how nice a car it could be, like its older brother, this beautiful two-owner, 84,000-mile 1970 2500, listed on craigslist in Phoenix, Arizona with an ambitious $12,500 asking price (archived ad).

A quick primer on the lineage of the E3 series of six-cylinder BMW sedans: two versions were available on launch in 1969, the 2500 and 2800, their names corresponding roughly to their engine displacement. High prices got sales off to a slow start in the U.S., so in mid-1971 the Bavaria, which combined the 2800’s bigger engine with the 2500’s lower level of equipment and trim and a sub-$5,000 price, replaced both models here. Back at home, the 2800 was replaced by the uprated 3.0S in 1971 (it came here for 1973), and a fuel-injected 3.0Si (available in the U.S. in 1975) became the top dog. A long wheelbase model and a 3.2-liter engine confusingly badged as a 3.3 were both added in 1975, but never sold here. The Bavaria was dropped when the 5-series hit the U.S. market in 1975, and the 7-series replaced the fancier 3.0Si and 3.3Li versions in 1977.

So this ’70 2500 represents the beginning of the line in its most basic form, and it is a beaut. Air conditioning is a somewhat unusual option for this lower-spec model, and that crack-free dash is a rare find. The original wood-rim steering wheel looks amazing, too, and the upholstery front and rear has managed to avoid the usual splitting, although all seats look like they could use a little re-stuffing. The headliner, too, is remarkably clean.

The seller describes the engine compartment as “impressively clean,” and I have to agree. More importantly, the rust-prone shock towers look nice and solid. The seller assures us that the car “runs, stops, [and] drives like a champ.” The legality of driving it is another matter, however, as it was last titled in 1975, but the upside is that its long-term storage included the preservation of its original blue California license plates, as well as dealer maintenance records from the ’70s.

The only blemishes that the owner will cop to are these paint chips at the base of the rear window, a cracked taillight lens (I have one of those, too), and a bent radio antenna (oh, boo hoo). No, I’m not bitter about how much nicer this 2500 is than my Bavaria…or that its lights would probably work and it would probably start if it had a battery in it…no, I’m motivated, goldurnit! I will make my Bavaria as nice as this again! Now one of you buy this thing and get it out of my sight, okay?


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  1. BHB

    I had one of these many moons ago and the head kept cracking, putting water in the oil–3 times I put a new $400 head on it–heliarcing did not work. On the plus side the zf auto trans was a breeze to rebuild. It was a good freeway cruiser and I sold it for more than I paid for it.

  2. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Mmm, I’ve been tempted by these lately – but I’m leaning more towards an E12 for my next project.

  3. bckiernan

    That color – Had a ’68 VW in the same in High School. I think the German MFG. got a volume discount as it was everywhere.

  4. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking BMW Bavaria. I used to know someone who had one similar. His started out in a lovely green, but he had it painted a hideous brownish colour.

  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    The Beige color doesn’t do this car justice.
    Dark colors seem to work so much better.

  6. HBChris

    I have this car’s sister, a 2800. The 5 series succeeded the Neue Klasse 2000 sedan when it debuted in Europe in 1972. The e3, Bav and 3.0Si, became the 7 series. I had to buy it two years ago, the blue plate is 037 BMW!

  7. Bmac Bmac Member

    My favorite BMWs

  8. steve

    The turn signal stalk is on the wrong side…lol

  9. Bubba5

    I lost my virginity in a Bav……

  10. Mountainwoodie

    If it had a sunroof I’d be on my way to hell….er……Phoenix. Unclear about the title. Has it not been registered since 1975 in Cali? Good luck when you show up at the DMV in Cali to register this and they want 42 (can it be! ) years worth of Non-Op fees. Better hope it has an Arizona title and you can get the Cali plates cleared……..

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