Welder Needed: 1972 BMW E3

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As the resident BMW fanatic, I would be sorely tempted by this car if I discovered it locally. I would also be mildly terrified, given its rust issues. Thankfully, it’s located overseas, but if you’re so inclined, you can check out this barn find 1972 BMW E3 here on eBay UK for a shot at bringing this old-school sedan back from the dead. 

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The interior looks amazingly well-preserved for being stuck in a barn for so long. It’s also one of my favorite color combinations in a BMW, white on blue. This BMW E3 was parked 20 years for failing its annual inspection due to rust, which is a shame because it’s a desirable manual transmission model. But when you look at the ad, you can see the rust is definitely an issue. The inner wings inside the trunk – a common trouble spot for BMWs – are in poor condition.

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Unfortunately, rust hasn’t been kind to the front side of the car, either. The hood will likely need to be replaced or at least undergo significant repair. The grills and bumpers still look good, and it appears to retain most of its chrome trim. The Euro market turn signals were much more attractive than what got bolted to US cars. This would be a sweet highway car if restored, as the 3.0SI models were the hot ticket – and when equipped with the manual transmission, it was quicker than the E9 coupe.

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The seller says that the owner who parked it in the barn had a mechanically-sound vehicle on his hands at the time it failed its annual MoT. From this picture, it looks like the corrosion has also affected the C-pillar, but I can’t determine if that’s just dirt. Either way, what a shame to park a good running car for a few hundred bucks in body work. These cars shamed the Mercedes-Benz sedan lineup at the time, and were quite sporting when equipped like this one is. What do you think – will this one ever come back to life?

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Comments

  1. Jason Houston

    I’d leave it precisely where it is, and hope someone gives it a proper burial.

  2. Rick

    i don’t care how many you fit in the ashtray, I’d just drive it as is

  3. randy

    I am sorry to disagree, but BMW sedans have NEVER shamed an MB. BMW did not even have a V8 for 15 years after this car? Then their process of making aluminum V8’s was very poor and they all came back if I remember correctly.
    This car would have been up against the 108, 109 MB’s at the very least. I have always liked BMW’s but they were not MB’s, and were meant for another type of driver as far as I can tell.

    I am sure that car has a lot of good usable parts on it.

    • Jeff Staff

      Randy, no need to apologize. I guess for whatever reason BMW just seems to own the reputation as being the sporting choice. I like MBs – in fact, I would love to someday find my father’s 1990 300E, as it was one the best cars I’ve ever driven. They are tremendous highway vehicles, especially with a V8 in front.

      But from a light, toss-able element – from the tactile sense that you could just flick the wheel and watch the car respond – BMWs are the clear winner for me. This is where the Benz’s weight and vault-like qualities work against it, in my opinion.

      For me, both brands are great in a straight line, but the BMWs shine extra brightly in the corners. With the exception of the W201 (which I also owned), I just never felt like Mercedes ever wanted to hustle unless it was in regards to doing triple digit speeds for long periods.

      Just one man’s opinion!

      • randy

        We are on the same page, as usual. Both are great cars, just built for a different audience.

  4. Horse Radish

    randy !
    Good analysis.
    My experience living at times in Germany over the last 30 years and having relatives, who drove (new) BMW over the years is close to that.
    BMWs were always great new cars, but not built as well for the long haul as Mercedes were.
    They rusted more and the interiors went shabby a lost faster.
    It was never appreciated much as classic cars until recently (last decade), but by then the majority has succumbed to the tin worm or neglect.
    Besides ‘their’ classic parts supply efforts are a mere shadow of the Mercedes counterpart….even the secondary used parts market in Germany is 5-10% of the Mercedes out there…..
    Nevertheless some real popular cars are having a strong comeback, like the E9. But to invest into an E3 in this condition is suicide.
    Should have left it in the barn until a suitable buyer finds it, no a flipper, who puts it out in the (constant) rain…….

    This car,, however, is a strong parts source, if you’ve gone through the trouble already of getting a decent body (rebuilt), and in this case a RHD car.
    If you switch this interior etc straight to another car quick!

    • Horse Radish

      No sunroof,
      And what’s the engine look like ?
      My guess is, that the tower shock are pushing the hood open, if you unlatch it !

  5. Mark S Member

    I think it’s time for the big metal plate to be dropped on the roof of the car. Then pushed down with hydronic pressure until the top af the A, B, And C pillars are level with the rocker panals. Cheers.

  6. JoeT

    Given the extent of the rust, this looks like a parts car for someone looking for a Euro spec drivetrain swap.

    • Jeff Staff

      If it were stateside, it’d be snatched up as a parts car quickly, IMO.

  7. Rando

    I looked an older Bavaria back in 85 or so. Passed on it an bought an Audi Fox. Looking back, the Bavaria could NOT have been any worse.

    Would love to have one. Just not this one.

  8. Tundra/BMW Guy

    As I have stated prior, ashes to ashes, rust to dust. This thing is done! Parts car. That’s it. Doesn’t look all that aesthetically appealing even when it was in a drivable condition. Now as far as power and handling go, I think that BMW does amazing things with their power plants and suspension systems. Without crossing over to a track only car! My 1/2¢ worth…….

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