I’ve seen this car driving around in my neighborhood a number of times but had never seen it parked until one day when I was driving the Healey to the store on a quick errand. I was in a hurry but couldn’t let the opportunity to check out this cool Bimmer pass so I stopped for a few pictures.
Our feature car is officially known and badged as a 3.0 CSi. The model name indicates it has a 3 liter engine and is fuel injected. This car was made before BMW started its numeric model naming convention (e.g. 3 series, 5 series, etc). They also sold a sedan called the Bavaria and the 2002 small coupe. Being a big coupe, this is a modern 6 series car’s grandparent. The chassis is known internally by the code ‘E9’. BMW fans often refer to their cars by the factory code rather than get mired down by the myriad of potential model names.
These are among my favorite car designs; they are sleek but have a tall airy cabin. This era of cars gave BMW its credibility as a manufacturer of sporting cars. This is most definitely a luxurious car however with its powerful engine and capable suspension, it is also fun to take running through curvy roads in the hills.
The E9 in lightened ‘CSL’ guise was used as a racer in the European Touring Car Championship. To qualify for this series they needed to sell a number of similarly lightened cars to the public. These CSL cars were nicknamed “Batmobiles” because the had tall rear wings, dorsal fins along the sides of the hood, and a cool foil on the trailing edge of the roof. This was wild stuff for the early 1970s.
Two of the CSL race cars were turned into “Art Cars” by being painted by Alexander Calder and Frank Stella. BMW continues to make Art Cars, the most famous probably being the M1 painted by andy Warhol.
The owner of this car came strolling up as I was taking pictures. We had a nice conversation about our old cars (he had been checking out the Healey while I was shooting pictures of his car) and how fun they are to drive compared to our modern daily drivers. His Bimmer is painted to a much higher standard than is the Healey; the paint looks deep enough to swim through.
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