Me and my car owner’s tale Glorious 2000CS sampled. Shaun Woodward is a product designer with a passion for all things automotive. His unusual classic car collection includes a couple of special BMWs, as Chris Graham discovers.
GRAND DESIGN Me and my car Shaun Woodward has owned his immaculate, 1967 2000CS for 14 years, during which time it’s covered 30,000 miles. This is his story…
Most enthusiasts are attracted to particular cars first and foremost by the way they look. So appearance matters for the majority of petrolheads but, for those who also work in the design world, it’s a fundamental necessity.
After graduating in 1983 from the respected Industrial Design/Transport (ID/T) Degree course at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry, Shaun Woodward was offered the chance to become involved with a small company launched by one of his lecturers, specialising in the design of children’s toys. It was an opportunity that he grasped with both hands, and that’s turned out to be a wise decision.
Although looking reasonably presentable, the dark blue 2000CS had a badly corroded body. It once belonged to a relation of motor racing legend, Prince Bira.
Now, some 35 years on, Shaun’s still creating new toy designs but, these days, indulges his passion for interesting automotive design during the time when he’s not working. A successful career has enabled him to gather an eclectic mix of interesting vehicles, consisting of saloon and sports cars, 1970s Ariel mopeds, obscure scooters and a BMW motorcycle. But, of course, it wasn’t always so.
“I began my motoring life with a succession of small, secondhand Fords,” Shaun explained to me in his design studio as the watery, late-November sun trickled in through the large windows. “Cars were a pure necessity in those early days.
The distinctive design ensures that the 2000CS attracts plenty of admiring glances, wherever it goes. Shaun was instantly attracted to the unique look of the 2000CS, first as a seven-year-old boy on holiday in Dorset, then when he was in a position to buy his own.
“Then, in 1985, with the business doing well, my partner suggested that I buy a new car, and I chose a brand new Ford XR2. Well, I thought I was the bee’s knees, then I happened to swap cars with a BMW-owning friend of mine.
“He was running a newish 520i at the time – just two or three years old, as I recall – and I needed a larger car to collect my grandparents from Yorkshire for a trip to stay with us, so borrowed it to pick them up. Well, that car proved something of a revelation. I loved the way it drove and its sheer smoothness. The contrast between it and my sporty Fiesta was a real eye-opener, and that made a real impression.”
TEMPTING 5 SERIES
“A couple of years later I was in a position to buy my second new car, and discovered that I could afford a new E28 520i. This model was just about to make way for the E34, so I got a good deal. I specified grey bodywork, TRX alloys and a beautiful cloth interior; it was a lovely car.
“I ran it for a couple of very enjoyable years, then decided to trade it in for a new E34 525i. This was a striking-looking car finished in black with a grey interior. It was beautifully made and, although I ran it for three years and covered 60,000 miles, I never felt any real attachment to it. It was strange really, and I still can’t put my finger on why that one didn’t really click.”
After the 525i moved on, Shaun spent a number of years with a Porsche 911 Carrera, several family-orientated people carriers while his children were growing up, and then a series of large Audi saloons. But the BMW seed had been sown in his mind, and not only thanks to his 5 Series experiences.
“As a seven-year-old boy,” he explained, “I can remember being on holiday with my parents near Lyme Regis, in Dorset, in the late 1960s. Dad stopped at a village garage for petrol, and I spotted what I thought was the most incredible looking car parked on the other side of the pump. I hopped out and went to have a closer look; it had gleaming, white paintwork, lots of shiny chrome and, walking around to the back, I noticed the large, ‘2000CS’ badge on the edge of the boot lid.”
The 1,990cc engine in the 2000CS boasted twin downdraught Solex carburettors, and produced 120hp; quite powerful for a four-cylinder engine in the mid-1960s.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
But, despite his obvious fascination with the exotic coupé he’d chanced upon in Dorset, Shaun wasn’t madly keen on cars as a child; there was no history of classic cars in the family. Yet there was definitely something about the 2000CS coupé that fired his imagination. So, fast-forward 44 years and, in 2012, Shaun’s thoughts returned to that random sighting in Dorset.
“It suddenly struck me one day that I’d never seen another 2000CS coupé on the road since that occasion. So, of course, my next move was to have a look on eBay – always a dangerous thing to do! The only one I could find for sale at that time was over in Germany, and it looked quite good. I grabbed some Euros from the bank and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to head out to Bonn, and hopped on to a plane with the intention of buying it and driving it back to the UK.
“Unfortunately, that coupé just didn’t live up to my expectations. I found some corrosion and that set the alarm bells ringing. At that stage, I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but just had a gut feeling that it wasn’t right. So I decided not to buy it, and flew home. Once back in the UK, I realised that what I should have done in the first place was get in touch with the BMW Owners Club.”
“Once I’d made contact, I was referred to Graham Juffs, in Kent, owner of B&M Workshops (experts in the model and other early BMWs). He and his son Ian were the club’s experts on the 2000CS at the time. It turned out that he had a 1967 model in his workshop, that was about to go back on the road after some minor refurbishment work, in preparation for its sale. It sounded like a great prospect, so I arranged to view it as soon as possible.
Above: With all the windows down and the pillarless doors, the 2000CS interior is a great place to be on a summer’s day.
“At that stage, I still hadn’t even driven a 2000CS; the closest I’d come was a short ride in the German car. But that didn’t matter; you see it’s not all about the driving for me. As a designer, my interest really lies in the form of a car, rather than its function. I tend to judge things on their aesthetics, so the way a car looks – and its visual character – must fire my enthusiasm, and this one certainly did.
Left: The 2000CS was one of the first BMWs to feature the Hofmeister kink.
“I’m not someone with a desperate need for speed and, if a car isn’t the most dynamic, that’s not a major issue for me. It’s all about character, appearance and, in many respects, I’m simply a polisher at heart! I take great pleasure from getting cars to look as original and as presentable as possible and I enjoy their idiosyncrysies.” Shaun wasted little time in getting down the Kent to view the car and, evidently, it was a case of love at first sight. “I just knew this was the right car for me,” he says, “and I had no hesitation in buying it, there and then.”
“On the drive back home to Bedfordshire – accompanied by my excited, nine-year-old son – everything seemed naturally right. I loved the car’s period feel, and the fact that the passenger compartment was so light and airy, thanks to the narrow roof pillars.
“The only niggle we encountered on that first journey was that one of the electric rear windows stuck down, which made the trip back a good deal ‘airier’ than I was expecting, and a lot chillier! I’ve since learned that this is a relatively common problem on this model, due to the unusual glass lowering action that’s necessitated by the restricted space. It comes and goes depending on temperatures, but is an easy fix – using them a lot, helps.”
At one stage, Shaun owned three 2000CSs; he bought the dark blue and the ‘stripped’ car to save them from being scrapped.
Shaun went on to explain that the 2000CS was a sophisticated, top-of-the-line BMW in its day, and its body was built by Karmann, so no two are quite alike. There were only 144 right-hand drive versions made, and his was the only one of those to be finished in Granada Red.
“As far as the car’s history is concerned, it was sold by its first owner to a veteran and vintage car restorer who, ironically enough, was based in Dorset. I think quite a lot of restoration work was then done on the body – like other Karmann-built bodies, these ones rust! It was then bought by a BMW collector in Kent, where it underwent a lot of mechanical work. All this meant that, by the time it reached me, it was a pretty tidy example.
Left: The later, E9 CS Coupé was produced by lengthening the 2000CS’s body to create space for the straight-six engine. From the doors back, the lineage is clear.
“Nowadays, I believe that mine is one of only three or four 2000CS Coupés in this sort of condition. Corrosion, I’m afraid, has been responsible for claiming many of the others and, there are no more than 20 of the original 144 left in existence. Very sadly, many of these still find themselves beyond proper, economic repair, although prices are rising, if you can find one.
“Some body parts are available from BMW, but not everything, and what there is, is expensive. For example, the front panel – which fills with mud and debris – is a favourite for rust. In the past I have seen them for sale in Germany for €1,500. The front and bonnet have lots of cooling slots, so there’s lots of skill required when repair sections are required.”
THREE OF A KIND
But Shaun hasn’t just owned his Granada Red 2000CS, he’s had a couple of others, as well, although only one was a proper runner. Both were bought in an effort to save them from destruction.
“About 15 years ago,” he explained “some people were buying down-at-heel examples for a couple of hundred quid, simply as a source of obscure parts, stripping those off, then scrapping the rest of the car. The bullet-shaped, Berlin Talbot wing mirrors were a typical example. Often fitted to these cars, they can be worth £300 on their own. There was also some cross-over on engine parts with later models such as the 2002, which attracted parts buyers.
“One of the cars I found was a one-owner example in Norwich, but I was beaten to it by a young chap wanting a restoration project. But things didn’t work out for him, and he managed to track me down a while later to see if I still wanted it. He’d stripped the shell and the body was sound, but he simply couldn’t continue. So I bought it and put it into storage.”
The 2000CS is very low-geared by today’s standards and, with a four-speed gearbox, is most at home on A and B roads.
“Then I found another one that was for sale in Cornwall. My partner, Simone, bought it for me as a birthday present for £300! It was badly corroded due to its seaside location. It ran, but had to be trailered home. The interior was great, everything worked and, externally it looked very presentable in its dark blue paint. But, under the surface it was a different story, and needed major metalwork.
“However, the fascinating thing about that blue car was its history. It had belonged to a Princess Elizabeth Chakrabongse in her later life. She was the wife of a Thai Prince who, in turn, was a cousin of Prince Bira, the famous motor racing driver.
“Regrettably, though, a change in my circumstances meant that I ran short of storage space, and those two cars had to be sold. On a positive note, both went to the same man, who planned to have them restored so, hopefully, that’s still a work in progress.”
Although Shaun admits that the driving performance of his cars isn’t the highest of priorities for him, it’s clear that he still gets enormous pleasure from using the 2000CS. He’s certainly not one for keeping it in mothballs and likes to use it as much as he can.
The BMW 2000CS is a delicate, pretty little car, but it was a very expensive luxury when new (£3,250), and sales were low.
“I’ve covered about 30,000 miles in it over 14 years, attending lots of club rallies and meets. In the summer I drove across the country to Bath from Bedfordshire for a meeting, and it went like a dream. I have never had any hesitation about using it on longer trips because it’s so reliable. In recent years, I’ve been to Le Mans twice in it, first with my pal David who first lent me his 520i all those years ago, and the second time with my two 6ft+ sons, Alex and Greg, with all our food and camping gear. Both trips were great-adventures.”
Having spent an hour or so in the 2000CS with Shaun, I can vouch for the fact that it remains rattle- and squeak-free, and the seats are particularly comfortable. I can well imagine how long journeys can be tackled in relaxed style, which speaks volumes for the quality of BMW’s original design, given that the car is now 50 years old.
“As far as breakdowns are concerned,” Shaun added, “the car has only ever let me down once, in all these years. This was due to a fuel pump failure, but even that wasn’t much of a drama as there’s an aftermarket electric one installed from before my time with the car, so I simply bypassed the mechanical pump and we got home safely.
“The car’s underlying reliability during my ownership has meant that, essentially, all I’ve had to do is routine servicing and keep it clean. The only bit of bodyshop work that’s been required during the past 14 years has been the fitting of new door skins (minor bubbling found along the bottom edges), and a bit of cosmetic tidying on the front the rear valance panels… Oh! and a door skin repair where I caught a car ramp… but we won’t talk about that!
The period steering wheel features a typically large and spindly rim, and really dates the interior.
“Inside, I decided to have the headlining replaced by B&M Workshops, because the original had a small tear and it was delaminating from the card backing (they all do) which, I felt, was letting it down. As things turned out, this was a complicated and fiddly job, which necessitated the removal of all the window glass and other trim.
“I’m very happy with the way it is now, and never fail to be amazed by the amount of attention it attracts when I’m out and about. People obviously can tell that it’s a BMW but, beyond that, very few are able to identify the model correctly without checking the badge on the boot lid. Most have never seen one before.
“So I intend to continue using the 2000CS as much as I can, for as long as I can. I just love the delightful feeling of openness created by the pillar-less design. Using the quarter-lights to remove buffeting makes it so practical to drive with the windows all down. The airiness is such a rare treat and a luxury that’s often lost on modern cars, due to the raft of safety regulations now in place.
“If I ever have to downsize and need to sell a few cars, I’ll make sure that this is one of the last to go; I have a real soft spot for it, and really can’t see that changing any time soon.
Left: Links with the later E9 are also obvious from the 2000CS’s dashboard and instrument styling.
“I thought I was the bee’s knees, then I happened to swap cars with a BMW-owning friend of mine”
“There was definitely something about the 2000CS coupé that fired his imagination”
“I’ve covered about 30,000 miles in it, attending lots of club rallies and meets”