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Many of BMW’s 1960’s and 1970’s cars are now established classics whose prices have escalated steadily in recent years, with some – such as the 2002 Turbo or 3.0CSL – reaching six-figures in sterling for the best examples.

As a result, some of their “lesser” models have also started to climb in price. Nevertheless, there are still some classics from the Bavarian stable that seem – to me at least – to be relative bargains, and this week’s Prime Find is one of those.

Amid all the excitement around the elegant E9 coupé and iconic 02 series, BMW’s E3 range is often overlooked, and these stylish, comfortable and rapid saloons are rarely seen either on the road or at shows. According to howmanyleft.com, there are only about 60 E3’s of all types still on the road in the UK. Even the BMW National Festival only attracted a single example last year despite that being its 50th anniversary.

The sole BMW E3 present at the BMW National Festival held at Gaydon in 2018.

As the Bavarians’ re-entry into the high-end sporting saloon market in 1968, taking on Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar in this sector, the E3 will probably need little introduction to ViaRETRO readers. All E3’s were powered by versions of BMW’s straight 6-cylinder M30 engine, with 2.5 and 2.8 litre models being made available initially, producing 150 and 170 bhp respectively. With the discreet facelift of 1971, the 3-litre engines – including a 200 bhp fuel-injected version in the 3.0Si – were introduced, making these large saloons exceptionally quick; a top speed of 132mph / 212km/h was achievable in the 3.0Si. Even the base 2.5-litre model – like the subject of this week’s Prime Find – could hit 118mph / 190km/h and reach 100km/h in about ten seconds flat.

Towards the end of the E3’s lifespan, the long-wheelbase model of the E3 was even given a 3.3-litre engine, pumping out the same horsepower but with more torque, thereby adding a proper limousine to the range.

Interestingly, a year after its European debut, the sporting E3 saloon was introduced onto the American market as well, but badged as the “Bavaria”. As in Europe, it was immediately praised for its excellent handling characteristics and the strong M30 engines. Of the approximately 190,000 BMW E3’s produced, almost 72,000 sold on the US market before the range was replaced in 1977 by the E23, better known as the 7-series.

Our Prime Find this week is up for auction with Historics at Brooklands at their March 2nd event taking place at Ascot Racecourse (famous for it’s Royal Ascot meeting, part of the English “Season” along with Wimbledon, Henley Regatta and other upmarket events).

It’s a 2.5-litre engined second series model in Verona Red – a great colour on just about any BMW – and is showing just 58,000 well-documented miles (equating to just above 93,000 km) since purchased new in March 1973. It has 19 service stamps showing a very comprehensive service record, and is described by the auctioneers as in “stunning condition throughout” and “an amazing example”.

The black “Skai” vinyl seats and the rest of the interior is described as being in “superb condition”. The excellent E3 even comes complete with documentation including the original book pack: manuals, the original service book, owner’s handbook, Europe Service Directory and more. Here are a few pictures borrowed from Historics at Brooklands:

From the pictures the car really does look superb both inside and out, and the service history is frankly extraordinary for a car over 45 years old. So, with an estimate of just £13 – 17,000 (currently equating to EUR 14,800 – 19,400, it strikes me as excellent value for a big, stylish 1970’s sports saloon from BMW.

If this is the seventies performance saloon you’ve been searching for and you have the 2nd of March free, here’s a link to the Historics of Brooklands auction site: 1973 BMW 2500

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

11 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld

    I always liked these and seriously considered one a few years back: Apparantly should have bought it. Or better – should have bought the 2800 CS before that. Oh well.

    Nowadays I’m am drifting more and more towards the first or even the second 5-series, not least because of the prices of “real” classic BMW’s.

    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt

    What a stunningly beautiful BMW. Condition and history seems quite amazing on this one. So much so that I could quite easily forgive it having only the small 2.5-litre M30 engine.

    But more than anything, it’s a painful reminder that I really ought to get my own ’74 Polaris silver 3.0S back on the road again! Somehow it always manages to find its way to the very back of my to-do-list, and it’s really not fair towards it, as it’s such a glorious executive sports saloon. It’s been more than 20 years since I drove it into long-term storage fully expecting to put her back on the road only a few years later. Didn’t happen. But once my hillclimb 2002 has been straightened out and the Rochdale fully restored, I hereby commit to doing my 3.0S justice next. It’s about time…

    Reply
  3. Tony Wawryk

    I’m guessing that it’s because it only has the 2.5 litre engine that the estimate for this gorgeous E3 is so reasonable – if I had somewhere to put this I’d be bidding at Ascot on March 3rd.

    Reply
  4. GTeglman

    @tony-wawryk, Not exactly the perfect color for a Bavarian Saloon, but the I like the E3 a lot.

    Currently I’m stuck in Hursley (Winchester), and the my Manager went “No NO NOOO”, when I politely asked for permission to rent a Jag F-type, so LHR to
    Winchester was with British Rails, and that is a journey to forget.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  5. Anders Bilidt

    @tony-wawryk, normally I would always advise anyone seeking a second classic car for their garage to aim for diversity. In other words, not the same marque as the classic you already own. Maybe not even a classic from the same country as your first. However, I might make an exception in this case, as your Golf yellow 2002tiiLux and this Verona red 2500 would simply look astonishing together… :-)

    @gteglman, next time you find yourself in the UK – whether equipped with a rental F-type or not – you really ought to drop by Glossop for a bit of tyre-kicking.

    Reply
  6. Tony Wawryk

    @anders-bilidt if I had the room for another classic I probably would follow your advice – at least in part – and not buy a second BMW, tempting as this lovely E3 would be (and it would be very tempting indeed!). I’m still hankering after a Manta A or a Fulvia or an Opel GT or or or or or…….there are just so many fabulous (and not necessarily expensive) classics I’d like. Of course, if my dream 1972 911S or E or even a T came within my financial reach, I would renounce all others!

    Reply
  7. GTeglman

    @tony-wawryk, Still stuck in Hursley, and I will return to DK tomorrow Saturday the 30’th Feb. I will however be back when the weather is a bit warmer. I’ll let you know.

    Cheers.

    \Anders

    Reply

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