Meant to compete with the more expensive Jaguar XJ12 and Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL W116, the Michelotti-styled bodyshell was stretched by four inches along the rear doors and packed with luxury. Favoured by tycoons, celebrities and large corporations (Associated Newspapers ran three, ABBA had a dark blue one as their company car and novelist Roald Dahl wrote about his with great affection), BMW’s most powerful saloon was highly regarded, with an 18-month waiting list and blue-chip street status. Alpina alloys, leather trim, aircon and electric sunroof were standard and there was even a manual gearbox option. German buyers could specify a limited-slip diff and car phone package too. Terminal chassis rust has ravaged the vast majority of E3s, which is why solid survivors are fiercely prized. Even the 2500s and 3.0-litre cars – as driven by Jackie Kennedy – are showing price movements too.
Now that they’re rarer than the hallowed CS Coupés I can see prices of mint surviving 3.3s climbing in 2016. There are a couple of tidy cars for sale at the moment for £15k – both need recommissioning – and depending on the state of the underside, could make worthwhile projects. One thing’s for sure, though – find a cherished and lovely BMW 3.3L with warranted mileage and it’s going to be heading towards £50k much sooner than you think.