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An E9 Bargain, or a potential money pit?

The cars we usually feature in our Prime Find section tend to be on the more affordable side – with the odd exception such as Reg Dwight’s old Ferrari Daytona. By affordable, we tend to mean under £20,000 or €23,000 at current exchange rates. As such, the chances of finding a BMW 3.0CSi E9 for this kind of money are nil, unless it’s a restoration project – in fact, there’s one currently being offered for sale in Spain for a touch over £17,000 as exactly that. More usually, an average E9 – by which I mean the 3.0CSi rather than any other derivatives – is around the £40,000 mark, a fully restored one can be up to £70,000 and even more, something I discovered a few years ago when I had the urge to buy a classic again – I ran a Polaris Silver 3.0CSi back in the 1990’s which I sold when moving to take up a job in The Netherlands that came with a company car and it was RHD anyway…how I wish I’d kept that car!

I belong to those who consider the E9 one of the most beautiful cars BMW ever made; in fact I’ll go further – it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever made by anyone, anywhere.

The genesis of the E9 was in the New Class range of coupés, namely the 2000C and 2000CS. Introduced in 1965 and built by Karmann in Osnabruck following the ending of production of the Bertone-built 3200CS, BMW utilised the 2000 saloon as the base for its new coupé.

While the overall body style of the 2000C and CS was considered to be graceful and elegant, its front-end treatment received criticism, and to be honest, I don’t think it’s entirely successful, though that wouldn’t put me off owning one.

This all changed in 1968 with the E9, initially as the 2800CS, which was superseded in 1971 by the 180bhp 3.0CS and the even more powerful fuel-injected 3.0CSi. which produced a nice round 200bhp, enough to take this large coupé to a top speed of 130mph and a 0-60mph sprint in under eight seconds.

Alternatives at the time were primarily the Jaguar XJC and Mercedes Benz 280CE – both stylish pillarless coupés capable of seating four and taking their luggage across Europe – indeed you could say that these cars were designed to do exactly that. Incidentally, both the Jag and the Benz are now generally available for significantly less than the 3.0CSi.

The E9’s elegantly resolved shape was created by Wilhelm Hofmeister – his trademark Hofmeister Kink features in the rear  three-quarter window – and for me is an intoxicating mixture of aggressive intent (the forward leaning front end) balanced by delicate lines at the rear, with its stylishly curved bootlid and tail-lights – almost a combination of male/female characteristics if you want to extend the comparison, though I wouldn’t wish to offend any feminists.

It has an expansive glasshouse and thin pillars, endowing the car with superb all-round visibility. The interior is roomy enough for four adults and the boot is capable of taking a decent amount of luggage, making the E9 almost as practical as a family saloon. In CSi trim, it’s also relatively luxurious, with central locking, electric windows and power steering all standard, and wood cappings are featured on the fascia and doors. Standard upholstery was velour, though many cars have since had this replaced with leather.

The E9 was a considerable success for BMW – aided in no small way by its success on the racetrack  – those with long memories will remember the mighty European Touring Car Championship battles between the CSL’s driven by the likes of Dieter Quester, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Chris Amon and the Ford Capri’s of Jochen Mass, Dieter Glemser and Hans Heyer remain legendary, with BMW CSL’s winning the Championship no fewer than six times in seven years between 1973 and 1979.

Between 1968 and 1975, 30,546 E9’s were built in total, of which just under 8,000 were CSi’s. Of these, only 422 were RHD, split almost 50/50 manual and automatic, making the CSi actually rarer in the UK than the CSL.

As the E9 was built by Karmann, its rust protection was somewhat inferior to that applied to Munich-built cars, making the demon rust a problem, contributing to there being not so many left on the roads in the UK – just 52 CSI’s and 78 CSL’s according to

Such rarity makes this week’s Prime Find a very exciting discovery indeed, and it comes up for auction with Historics of Brooklands as one of the lots being offered for sale on November 23rd at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey.

This example was found parked in a heated garage where it had been laid up since 2009 and was surrounded by boxes. It was therefore covered in dust but underneath, is claimed to be as new. It has had one full restoration, carried out in 1989/90 and is a one owner car, although the vendor has now sadly passed away, hence its sale.

According to Historics’ website,” the car today presents extremely well, the warm garage has naturally kept the car in near new condition and, apart from a recent re commissioning of fluids, new battery and MoT test certificate, it just required a wash!”. The odometer shows a relatively low 67,632 miles, there is an extensive history and receipts dating back to the restoration plus additional correspondence about the car.

Bearing the above in mind, the auctioneer’s estimate seems remarkably low, being initially pitched at between £13,000 to £19,000 (and since changed to No Reserve), which doesn’t really chime with it’s claimed condition, making me wonder if there are some serious bills coming up soon. Nevertheless I find it hard to believe it won’t sell for considerably more and will be attending the auction to find out. In fact, at these estimates, I’m seriously tempted to register as a bidder….watch this space!

We’ve borrowed a few photographs from the auctioneer’s website and you can see more information and pictures here – As always, caveat emptor applies, and there is no substitute for seeing the car itself.


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

One Response

  1. yrhmblhst

    These ARE lovely cars. However…this appears to me to be a hole in the garage floor into which one pours money from what I can see and what [little] I know about parts/restoration prices on these.
    Ive known two of these personally; a green one – kind of ‘dark lime metallic’ if you will, witha tan interior, bone stock. Nice car, but , um, shall we say ‘maintenance intensive even when only a few years old. The other was a white, full tilt ‘CSI coupe’ I believe it was called – you know, the one with the front air dam, splitters across the fender tops, rear wing etc. That car was also maintenance intensive, but man was it fast. Not real quick, but fast…you know the difference. The owner – an ex-pat german living here and working on BMWs – claimed to have broken the official / unofficial Turner Turnpuike gate to gate record with it. Not sure i believe him – actually, I am pretty sure I dont – but that car could fly and was smooth and poised whilst doing so. That car set up my 6 series lust that has never been quenched… love that roofline.


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