I doubt that this 1973 BMW is that much more sporty than its current descendants the 2010/11 6er coupes, but it is certainly a more exotic machine. It drew my eye from blocks away with that sullen, brooding, spectral glare.
As I wrote about a same-year sedan version of this car, a large part of this car’s allure for me is that seems to just teeter between being reasonable aspiration and a full-fledged fantasy car. As far as gorgeous, perfectly proportioned classic European designs go, the E9 coupes are a complete bargain. If you want some top-shelf stringback glove material, you’d have to pay top dollar for a Maserati 3500 or an early 911. There are, of course, more affordable alternatives, like old Datsun Bluebirds or Porsche 914s, but a 3.0CS seems to display a finer breeding than anything quite so bargain basement. However, as they rust away and their prices rise, these BMWs undergo a particular transformation that replaces that rust on their sheetmetal with youthful fresh steel and aluminum, that tightens down their sagging suspensions, and sews back up the scratches and tears of their interiors.
Cars do not grow old with any sense of linearity; ever younger automobiles can be classified with the term “classic cars”, and at a certain point, any car built before a certain year becomes indiscriminately viewed as an antique. With twenty first century eyes, a car from the 1920s doesn’t looks much different from a horseless carriage from the turn of the century. The frame of reference used to distinguish cars fades away and all cars approach a like obsolescence. This 1973 3.0 CS, with its lofty reputation as one of the finest postwar BMWs, already exists withing the same historical fold as its more baroque predecessors, the 503 and the 507. It will not be long before this car on Dekalb Ave. will be lumped together with BMW 328s, Alfa Romeo 1500s, and with enough time, the likes of early sports racers like a 1907 FIAT.
What a joy it is to see what will become a refined classic parked out on a Brooklyn thoroughfare! To see that the ageless American longing for European refinement can be played out in middle-class neighborhoods with roaring engines and oversteering chassis. I once dreamed of gliding through the Sierras in a straight six BMW coupe like this, maybe transform the small Central Valley towns intersected by the highway into street circuits like I was in Rendezvous. How swiftly this 3.0 CS brought those dreams back to mind.
I used to think to myself – someday I’ll escape this all, this small town – as I biked past a 2000CS automatic that sat with a flat tire on some West Davis street. I might get out of here with success and charm and culture.
These were silly aspirations, but as I long for a track-prepped Rambler American or ’61 Dart from my desk in Manhattan, I know that all my automotive fantasies are equally silly, equally real. Few, though, are as beautifully manifested as this silver ghost.