BMW CS Coupé (E9)
After the success of the Neue Klasse, BMW branched out by adding two more upmarket models, the E3 sedan (which would father the 7 series), and the E9 coupé. Production of the latter started late in 1968, at Karmann, most famous for the VW Beetle based Karmann Ghia. All engine offerings were six-cylinders. This M30 engine is the foundation for BMW’s reputation as six-cylinder engine builder. Initially, a 2.8l was sold (2800 CS). It was replaced by the 3.0 CS in 1971, which was soon accompanied by the fuel-injected 3.0 CSi. Towards the end of the production run, small numbers of the 2.5 CS entry model were built.
BMW wanted to use the car for racing, even though it was considered unsuitable due to its weight. Hence, together with Alpina, BMW developed the lightweight 3.0 CSL variant, to which wings were added as well. The end result proved to be a very capable touring car.
To me, the E9 is one of the, if not the, most beautiful cars BMW has ever built. Unfortunately, others have realized this, too. Couple an increased market interest with relatively low production numbers and the lack of rust protection common in the 1960s and ’70s, and you get a current market price that is pretty steep.
BMW M3 (E30)
When touring car racing switched to Group A regulations, BMW initially competed with the 635 CSi, not without success. But what it really needed was a purpose-built car, so in 1985 BMW announced the M3, based on the then-current E30 3 series. BMW made some major changes: Widened wheel arches, a raised boot lid, a spoiler, and a 2.3l 16 valve engine with 195hp (the famous S14). The end result is considered the most successful touring car of all times. The car was a sales success, too, and more than three times the required 5,000 cars were built, including several more powerful evolution models.
There was a time when a regular E30 M3 could be had for €12,000, but those times are long past. All ’80s performance cars have seen a considerable price increase. And the M3’s appeal is understandable, as it combines its race pedigree with masculine looks and good handling. But those who do get to drive one also don’t fail to mention the relative lack of power, which isn’t unsurprising that 200hp is pretty standard these days even in family cars, and performance cars starting with numbers twice that. I’ve seen more than one comparison of M3 models that ended with a bit of disappointment concerning the E30 M3. Hence, at a price point that would buy both an E39 M5 and an E46 M3, I’m not sure I’d be willing to shell out the money for an E30 M3.