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BMW E3 SALOON (1968-1977) As far as Mercedes-Benz was concerned, the arrival of BMW’s big 2500 and 2800 saloons (inte...
BMW E3 SALOON (1968-1977)

As far as Mercedes-Benz was concerned, the arrival of BMW’s big 2500 and 2800 saloons (internally known as the ‘E3’) was akin to a poke in the eye with a stick. Mercs were well made of course but they were super expensive and as solid to drive as they were built. The Jaguar XJ arrived in the same year and would also cause raised eyebrows in the Daimler Benz boardrooms. The E3 sold slowly but steadily in the UK and whilst there weren’t many out in the sticks, they were a common sight in London and most towns had a few examples.

The 3.0 arrived in 1971 and shortly after, the 200 bhp 3.0Si which was quite a rocket ship that could outpace the 6.3 and 6.9 Mercs as well as XJ12’s on the sprint to 60 mph before surging on to 130 mph – these were seriously fast cars. BMW was a small company back then, known to make expensive cars with expensive spare parts and depreciation was swift. By the time the 7-Series took over in 1977, you could pick up an early 2500 in decent condition for 500 quid and by the mid ’80s they were just about worthless. Tired E3’s littered London streets like old Jaguars and it’s only in the last few years that anyone has bothered to save any – I bought a running one myself in 1999 for £100. As brilliant as it was, the E3 was just an old BMW for many years and most of the UK-supplied cars have now gone.
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    NEW SIX ON THE STOPS #BMW-2.8L automatic

    We see a lot of bagged cars but it’s rare to see something as majestic as this classic #BMW-E3 on air, and it’s a corker. The E3 was a revolutionary model for #BMW in the 1960s. This Belgian example gives the old-skool formula a 21st century twist.

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.8-litre straight-six #M30B28 , automatic transmission #ZF .
    CHASSIS: 8x17” (front and rear) #BBS RC 008s, AccuAir air-ride suspension setup.
    INTERIOR: Original seats retrimmed in leather, renewed wood trim, original radio.
    EXTERIOR: Full respray in original colour.
    THANKS: SG Motorsport, Kean Suspensions.

    The 1960s were turbulent but exciting times for BMW. The late- Fifties had seen much financial strife, with the gorgeous #BMW-507 roadster proving too expensive to be profitable, the Isetta-based microcars selling badly, and the motorcycle market imploding. BMW’s board of directors even proposed a merger with #Daimler-Benz in #1959 – imagine! – but this was vehemently opposed by dealers and shareholders. What the company needed was a shot in the arm, a new direction. And that came in the form of the Neue Klasse. Debuting at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, the fresh new BMW 1500 demonstrated a solid set of values that have carried on through the model range ever since; it had disc brakes and all-round independent suspension, offering the latest technological developments in a wellequipped car that, while selling at a premium price, wasn’t absurdly out of the reach of the man on the street.

    Job done then, yes? The 1500 morphed into the slippery 2000C/CS coupés and the iconic ’02 series, and so BMW’s 1950s personality-split between big luxury cars and economical micros was smoothly merged into one logical 1960s whole.

    Ah, but that wasn’t the end, of course. You can’t build an empire on just one idea. BMW had been keeping a keen eye on Mercedes- Benz, eager to ensure that they could compete on all levels with their rivals over in Stuttgart. Benz was dominating the large luxury car sector, and BMW wanted to muscle in with a range that could both compete and offer a sportier edge. And the result? The New Six. The thinking behind this is what carries through to the modern Bee-Em that may well be sitting on your drive right now – luxury, with sporting intent and technological capabilities in spades. The poster boy for the New Six has always been the Batmobile – the superaerodynamic racy variant of the E9 3.0 coupé, the #CSL – but it’s important to remember that this mould-breaking range featured two body shapes: alongside the #E9 Coupé sat the car we’re looking at here, the E3 Saloon. The Neue Klasse’s hardy #M10 four-bangers were comprehensively reworked into the six-pot #M30 range, and the New Six styling featured such details as the twin-headlights-in-grille and the celebrated Hofmeister Kink that have since become BMW staples. At launch, the #E3 was available in either 2500 or 2800 flavour, and it’s the latter that we’re looking at today.

    This particular 2800 is owned by Belgian Kevin Pourtois, who’s taking the current stance scene’s excitement over retro motors to its logical conclusion, bypassing the E21s and E12s of the 1970s and diving right back to the previous generation (okay, his E3 is a #1976 model, but the ethos remains true…). So, was this a conscious decision to shake up the scene a little? “Well, no, actually,” he explains, “this was actually my grandfather’s car. It was sitting there in the garage in perfect condition, just waiting for me! So this is more of a sentimental project…”

    Keeping the concept all in the family, Kevin set about refreshing and contemporising the revolutionary old motor car along with his father. “First, we started with the interior,” he says. “The seats themselves were in good condition, but we wanted to recover them with something a bit more contemporary, so they’ve been retrimmed in quality leather.” You can see from the pictures that this was a good move, the creamy hue neatly complementing the otherwise bone-stock insides. These old E3s have a lovely solidity about them, and details such as the lozenge-like instrument binnacle and slender heater controls speak of a time of uncluttered simplicity. It’s a very classy place to be, and even more so now that it’s slathered in baby-soft cowhide.

    “I have to admit that we didn’t make a lot of progress for some time after that,” Kevin concedes, “but after a while I just decided it was about time I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in.” And so he, along with his father, attacked the project with renewed vigour, starting with the engine. The future plan is to swap the venerable old M30 out completely for something else, but in the meantime they’ve had the 2.8-litre six refreshed by SG Motorsport to ensure that all is running as it should. You’ll notice the ‘i’ badge on the bootlid too, indicating that this car is running fuel injection rather than the launch-spec carburettor setup.

    With motive power taken care of, they turned their hands to paint – or rather, one of Kevin’s friends did. “We wanted to keep the original colour, as that’s what my grandad chose, so I asked a friend of mine to refresh it in the original shade,” he explains. And you’ve got to admit that it looks pretty damn perfect. It’s a mysterious greeny-blueygrey that’s at once subtle and classy, and also pure hot rod. It complements the 2800’s oodles of extra chrome rather neatly too. It’s at this point that the project took rather a radical turn. Now, E3 aficionados will happily fill you in on the details of the car’s factory suspension setup – rather radical in itself, for its time, featuring Boge Nivomat self-levelling trickery at the rear – but that sort of pub-bore geekery won’t win you any trophies. So Kevin decided to take the concept of self-levelling to the next, er, level by having a word with Kean Suspensions. Regular readers will have spotted this name cropping up with increasing regularity of late, as the renowned altitude adjusters’ star rises in the stance sphere. And in Kevin’s eyes, their famed prowess in air-ride systems was exactly what he needed to freshen up the attitude of his grandad’s old Beemer. “I asked them to build me an AccuAir system, because I wanted this to be a fun project,” he grins. And the quality of the install manifests itself in two key ways: firstly, the neatness inside – that uncluttered BMW dash and console look factory-stock, if gently patinated, and it takes a moment to locate the air-ride controls. Go on, have a peek, see if you can spot them…

    Secondly, there’s the way the thing sits. There’s something about these large, slabsided old barges that lend themselves very well to being aired out and kissing Tarmac, isn’t there? Like some kind of vast snake, slithering on its belly. The wheels are neatly tucked, a bold wedge of camber presenting itself at the rear – it’s the perfect way to pull that ’60s style right into 2014.

    Oh yes, and those wheels. It’s always a tricky business bolting newer rims to a classic car, isn’t it? For every tastefully executed #E21 on a set of boxfresh Schmidts, there’s a shonky 2002 on ’90s three-spokes – you’ve just got be very careful with your choices. Fortunately for Kevin, his eye was bang on with this one. The E3 wears BBS RCs: “Because I just really like these wheels, I never considered any others!” he says. And they do work perfectly with the overall aesthetic; while clearly modernising the silhouette, that newness becomes less jarring in conjunction with the panscraping stance created by the air-ride. And hey, they’re hardly new-new, they’re a classic wheel in their own right now. Again, it’s all just about the appropriateness.

    He gives us a coy smile when we ask how much this retro uniqueness has set him back so far: “A lot,” he replies enigmatically, “but when you love something, you don’t count the money! This always had to be something a bit special, being my grandfather’s beloved old car, so I couldn’t do anything that would totally alter its character, and yet I wanted to do something fun that would make it stand out on the scene. I took some inspiration from forums and car shows, and I basically just wanted it to be a bit different, more oldskool.” It was lucky that this family heirloom was waiting in the wings, then – it’s turned out to be the perfect base for a project with such clarity of vision.

    All of those gorgeous classic touches, such as the fuel filler that sits behind the hinged rear number plate, the tall windscreen above the slender nose that makes it look like a Pixar character, the ‘automatic’ script on the bootlid, and the ohso- retro ashtrays in the rear doors, are superbly modernised by the simple concept of sitting it lower to the ground. And sometimes, with the right car, that’s pretty much all you need to stand out – no sense in changing things for the sake of change. Kevin’s E3 takes a near-perfect package and adds the finishing touches to create a showstopper. A success, wouldn’t you say?
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  •   Ross Alkureishi reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Mike Taylor talks to the men behind BMW GB’s early forays into motor racing back in the 1970s with the 2002, #E9 Coupé and the big #E3 Saloons.

    BMW (Concessionaires) GB Limited was established by David Blackburne in 1966 putting the process of importing, selling and servicing prestige BMW cars onto a professional and efficient footing. Models destined for sale in the UK were brought from Zeebrugge or Calais in sealed containers to Folkestone and taken by road to the UK holding based in Portslade, Brighton. By #1968 the company was feeding 150 demanding agency outlets. In truth, the penetration of the BMW brand into the UK car market during the ‘60s had grown at astonishing speed. The launch of the Neue Klasse 1500 in #1961 had done much to put BMW AG on the map, helped considerably five years later by the introduction of the sporting twodoor 1600. By #1968 the range included the loved 2002, the larger 2000Ti Saloon and the distinctive but expensive #2000CS Coupé. The next objective was to further promote the BMW brand, increasing its appeal with a concentrated race programme and one of the leading lights who made this possible was John Markey.

    “For me it started in #1969 ,” recalls John. “I had been racing full time for a number of years, starting with a Mini and then an Emery GT in British club races with the occasional foray to the Nordschleife for the 500k. This was followed by two years of eking out a precarious living competing in the World Sportscar Championship with a Chevron B8 and a Costin Nathan taking in 1000k events at places like Monza, Spa, the Nürburgring and the Targa Florio until finally my then wife, Wendy, decided that I ought to grow up and get a proper job.”

    Previous experience with other companies plus a helping hand from a close friend, the late Stuart Bennett, resulted in John being interviewed by the joint MD of #BMW Concessionaires, Les Jones. “I was offered the job of service engineer, travelling around the south east, investigating problematic cars, and sometimes problematic dealers, too,” he grins. “I couldn’t have joined at a better time. BMW Concessionaires GB Ltd was just on the cusp of greatness. The 2002 was flying out of the showroom doors and we couldn’t get enough of them from Germany. And although the 1800 and 2000 four-door Saloons were beginning to look a little dated by now, there was the six-cylinder #2800CS-Coupé and the 2500 and 2800 Saloons.”

    It has often been said that, down the years, what gives BMW models a head start in motorsport is that the base model is already well developed. A case in point was the 1600 Saloon. “It was a very good car; the #2002 was superb, followed by the 2002Tii, which was even better,” agrees John. “BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd also had a very aggressive marketing policy. Cars were sold with stickers which read ‘MOVE OVER to a BMW’ fitted across the top of the front screen with reverse mirror writing. Tony Hille was a truly entrepreneurial joint MD; he received total loyalty from all his staff.” By then BMW in the UK had taken on its elegant Park Lane showrooms. It screamed class and distinction, speaking to a niche motoring market customer.

    “I’d been on the road as service engineer for about 12 months and racing a Lotus 30 and a McLaren M6B at weekends when I was asked by Les Jones if I would head up a special customer division. By then we were selling around 6000-8000 cars per year, many bought by influential and titled people and he didn’t want them taking their cars to just any BMW garage. My job was to visit the customer, asses the problem and bring the car back to London where my team would sort it out. Meanwhile the client would be given a courtesy car.”

    In 1971 BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd was approached by Roger Bell, sports editor of Motor magazine asking if they would provide him with a car to race in the Castrol Production Saloon Car Championship Group 1 Series. “I met Roger and because of my racing background I was asked if I’d take on the role as competitions manager, co-ordinating the team, press and media relationship and arranging for journalists to test drive the cars for magazines like Autosport and Motorsport. “

    Not surprisingly, John was very keen. The plan was to enter two cars for the first year sponsored by BMW agents Cronks of Chipstead, Surrey (John Bloomfield’s car) and MLG based in Chiswick, London (Roger Bell’s car). The deal was that in return for racing the BMW Tii Roger Bell would write a regular page in Motor extolling the virtues of the BMW.

    Through his racing experiences John already knew Mathwall Engineering, run by fellow business partners Stuart Mathieson and Peter Wallace, Stuart concentrating on engine preparation and Peter using his chassis and suspension skills, the pair having met at Alan Mann Racing a few years before. “I approached Mathwall and they jumped at the chance,” continues John.

    Stuart Mathieson takes up the story: “The cars were delivered to us at Silver Mere Farm Estate, Cobham and completely stripped down with any excess weight removed. The springs and dampers were changed and the ride height lowered. We used Michelin TB5 tyres, which were as close to a race cover as you could get. The steering and suspension was modified with a roll-cage, a racing seat and extra instruments added.”

    Off the production line the 2002Tii engine delivered a true 130hp. Under Group 1 regulations there was only a certain amount of cylinder head preparation possible including grinding the inlet and exhaust tracts and polishing the metal, and reassembling the engine using blue printing selection techniques. “The engines were running Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, which I already had experience with. Luckily, I had access to Imperial College in London where they had a dynamometer and very soon we were seeing 143hp, which was later increased to 155hp as time went on.”

    From the beginning Mathwall had an ‘open phone line’ to BMW’s spares department. “Initially, I was sent to Dover to attend a BMW fuel injection course and later to Munich to learn more about the engines and the factory,” continues Stuart. “I was based in Chiswick as I still had my special clients to look after but Mathwall and I were in constant touch. Money was no object. When I produced the budget breakdown for the season’s racing, which included entering the tough 24Hrs event at Spa, I was told by Tony Hille to go away, think again, and add more noughts.

    It was very much like that,” John tells us. The first six-to-eight races were pretty successful for the newly formed team. Reports of the day reveal that Roger Bell won the first three, Mike Woolley in a dealer car won the next two, followed by two more by Roger. By now Ford had homologated various extras onto the 3.0-litre Capri including a limited-slip diff, close ratio gearbox and a range of axle ratios. Add to this Ralph Broad’s inimitable ability to astutely interpret the regulations and suddenly the 3.0-litre Capri went from an also-ran to easy outright winner and the Tii’s days were numbered. “The decision was then taken to prepare a 3.0CS to take on the Capri at home, and abroad in the Spa 24Hrs,” John remembers.

    “We then approached preparing the six-cylinder coupé engine in much the same way as the four-cylinder in the Tii. By then fuel injection had gone electronic with the Bosch system and someone from BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd came down to give us a hand. It had an electronic management unit, which enabled us to plug in test analyser equipment to adjust things like mixture strengths and so on. We achieved 224hp with that engine. Also, the handling dynamics were different to the Tiis. The Coupé was much better balanced with closer to neutral handing,” explains Stuart.

    After a promising start at home with a second and a win, the CS Coupé and two Tiis set off for Spa with Roger Bell/Tony Dron and Tony Lanfranchi/John Bloomfield with the Tiis and Motoring News scribe, Jeremy Walton sharing the big Coupé with Formula 1 driver, Peter Hanson.

    “The Coupé started last, ran like clockwork, won its class and finished seventh overall, averaging 105mph for 24 hours,” grins John Markey at the memory. “What’s more, Jeremy gave us two pages of brilliant journalism in Motoring News. Sadly, however, the two Tiis both failed to finish.”

    The Spa result paved the way for more events with the CS. However, at Mallory Park with Markey standing in for an absent Roger Bell, the car began giving gearbox problems, baulking during a change into third. “On a very fast right-hander it happened badly and I went off into the barriers, damaging the car pretty comprehensively. Luckily, at the time I was running one of the prototype CSLs as my company car. We took all the running gear off the CSi, transferred it to the CSL, which was lighter and left-hand drive, turning it into our Group 1 car.”

    However, despite Mathwall’s best efforts with the CS the Ford Capri was pretty much unstoppable in the latter half of the season. “Roger had one or two wins, mainly in the wet. Then, while we were doing some tyre testing at Brands Hatch a front tyre burst at Paddock Bend. The Coupé was a write off. We called it a day and just ran the Tiis for the last few races.”

    For 1973 the plan was to build two lightweight CSs. But, BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd changed its marketing strategy and it was decided to campaign the newly launched 3.0Si saloons instead. John Markey explains: “Again, I involved Mathwall Engineering to prepare the 3.0Sis and one Tii to be driven by my wife, Wendy. Radio Luxemburg gave us air time sponsorship and the 3.0Sis were built for Rothmans, Shell Sport and Aramis aftershave with drivers including Tony Lanfranchi, Roger Bell and Gerry Marshall.” On the tracks the saloons proved a pretty good match for the competition, racing at Brands, Snetterton, Thruxton and Mallory Park as well as entering the Avon Motor Tour of Britain.

    “The CSL was only ever a homologation exercise; the CSi and CSA were the mainstay of BMW’s Coupé range,” asserts John. “BMW had to make 1000 CSLs to gain homologation approval and the factory persuaded Tony Hille to take 500 in RHD form. His bargaining point was to agree to take the CSLs if the factory would supply 2000 extra 2002s to meet customer demand. In the event the CSLs for the UK market were unique and came with electric windows and chrome bumpers.”

    Another part of John Markey’s job was to act as sales promotions manager, which involved arranging customer track days at places like Brands Hatch. “The object was to reveal how BMWs performed on the track to clients who would not normally be exposed to this kind of driving,” explains John. “It was about demonstrating how well cars like the 2002Tii, 3.0Si and the CSL could perform without being confined to speed restrictions.”

    Mathwall Engineering also benefitted from their connection with BMW. “We produced our first turbocharged engine for a BMW road car using a single Dell’orto carburettor. We then went on to introduce other aftermarket products such as spoilers and twin-carburettor kits. It put us on the map. At our height there were 14 people on the payroll,” recalls Stuart Mathieson.

    Sadly, the UK’s declining financial climate took a strangle-hold on sales and drastic measures were called for, BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd released key staff; competitions was one of the first to be affected. “My first thought as I drove away for the last time was regret,” muses John. “It had been the happiest time in my working life. I couldn’t wait to get to work, they were great people and Tony Hille was a wonderful man to work for.”

    Meanwhile, in Germany, BMW established its own motorsport department in #1973 run by Jochen Neerspach and Martin Braungart, which saw cars like the #CSL being campaigned very effectively for several years. It wasn’t until January #1980 that BMW established its own UK subsidiary, BMW (GB) Ltd. It took over from BMW (Concessionaires) GB Ltd, which had been operating since #1966 . Our thanks go to John Markey and Stuart Mathieson for their help with this article.
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  •   Richard Gunn reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Five seats #E3 body #1971 ; 127 mph; 0 to 60 mph in 8 sec. At a Glance: Latest version of #BMW-E3 six-cylinder saloon with larger engine and more performance. Excellent refinement bestowed by superbly sweet power unit and light manual gearbox. Much improved brakes, better handling, but slightly more choppy ride. Same remarkable fuel consumption as before. Well finished throughout. Very satisfying car at all times.

    Above: The six-cylinder engine is inclined to the fight and accessibility once the air cleaner is removed is excellent. The bonnet lid is self-supporting.

    It was at the Geneva Show this year, after a successful racing programme using a prototype 3-litre engine, that BMW introduced the first of their new models using an enlarged six-cylinder power unit. That was the #BMW-3.0CS coupe #E9 and we published a full test of the right-hand-drive version on 15 July last.

    This week the saloon powered by the same engine is launched in the UK, so once again our Autotest is very topical. As well as an additional 10 bhp and 15 lb. ft. more torque, the 3.0S has ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels (with duplicated hydraulic lines to the front callipers), improved front suspension geometry, intermit-tent as well or two-speed wiper action, revised seats with rear headrests in addition to those in front and some detail changes to the ventilation system and exterior trim. The limited-slip differential and self-levelling roar suspension have been deleted from the specification and the price goes up by USD 191 (1971 in USA for #BMW-3.3Li ) compared with the 2800 saloon which is discontinued.

    Changes to the engine comprise little more than a 3mm increase in bore size, the same camshaft and twin progressive-choke Solex carburettors being retained. This is enough to push the DIN output up from 170 to 180 mph and peak torque up from 173 to 188 lb. ft.

    Top speed therefore goes up from 124 to 127 mph (the overall gearing remains the same) and acceleration is improved by similar substantial margins. From 0 to 60 mph, for example, comes down from 8.9sec to 8 sec dead, and the 0 to 100 mph time is down from 27.8 to 23.9sec. The standing quarter-mile time is now just under 16sec.

    Compared with other high performance cars in the same class, like the #Jaguar-XJ6 4.2, the BMW is substantially quicker. In general terms the XJ6 we tested in May this year worked out very close on performance with the #BMW-2800 . So the differences ore about the same as those already quoted. In making comparisons though it is all too easy to forget that the BMW has only a 3-litre engine, and despite its five-seater bulk and 27cwt kerb weight. Its acceleration is not much slower than that of the E-type 2+2 4.2 (0 to 60 mph 7.4sec, 0 to 100 mph 19.4sec) and from rest to 30 mph it is the equal.

    To be truly fair this remarkable BMW performance should be compared with that of cars with a similar engine size. It is only when we look at the figures for the Broadspeed Bullit (0 to 60 mph 8.1 sec. 0 to 100 mph 24.5sec, top speed 124 mph) and the Uren Comanche (0 to 60 mph 8.4sec, 0 to 100 mph 24.6sec, top speed 132 mph), both cars being based on the Ford Capri 3000 with power output increased to 185-190 bhp, that the true mettle of the BMW starts to show up.
    It is exactly true to the BMW tradition that the figures we measured on a car imported new and run-in here with no special preparation came precisely within the factory performance specification with very little effort on our part and virtually no recourse to special techniques other than two practice starts.

    Getting the #BMW-3.0S away from rest quickly was easy. With about 4.000 rpm showing on the dead accurate rev counter, we dropped the clutch and shot away with several yards of wheelspin, reaching 30 mph in only 2.7sec. The tyres yelped with the snatch change into second, but not into third and top. There is a red warning on the rev counter from about 6,200 to 8,000 rpm but the engine rowed up to it so freely that we ran slightly over to about 6,500 before changing up.
    The gearbox has the same ratios as on the 2800 but a change to stronger synchromesh makes the action slightly more notchy and a trifle rubbery when going into bottom at rest. It is still an ultra-light and tremendously precise shift, one which must surely be the envy of all other manufacturers.

    The clutch is both light and progressive with plenty of bite, a truly remarkable achievement for a car this heavy svith so much torque. To be honest we did not notice the effect of not having a limited-slip differential (it had only a 50 per cent locking action in any case) and on decent tyres there is no shortage of traction even in the wet. Unfortunately the test car was shod with German made Veith-Pirelli radials which wore miserably lacking in wet road grip and seemed very prone to squeal in the dry. We know from our experience with the 3.0 CS coupe that #Michelin-XVR radials transform the car in this respect and it seems a pity that all #BMW 3-litres delivered to this country cannot come with thorn fitted.

    If any aspect of the 2800 could be criticized, it was the brakes which did not seem to take kindly to hard use and became rather rough and rumbly when used hard from high speed. This characteristic has now been completely eliminated by changing to ventilated discs all round, backed up twin vacuum servos and duplicated hydraulic lines to the front callipers. Thus, if one circuit fails 75 per cent of the braking effect remains acting on all four wheels and if the other circuit fails. 60 per cent remains on the front wheels only. There is also the mechanical handbrake which recorded 0.33g from 30 mph with ease.

    The brakes on the test car were a little lacking in initial bite (like many dual systems), and it took as much as 120lb effort to record an ultimate of 0.98g, which was the best possible on the ##Veith-Pirolli tyres. When checked out for fade, there was some initial fluctuation before the system settled down to give repeated stabilized readings which decreased as the car's speed dropped. This speed sensitivity was reversed with the brakes cold. 0.5g from 30 mph requiring as much as 50lb effort compared with only 30lb from 70 mph. The net result is that the brakes feel better the faster you travel, which is a nice way to have things in a car with this kind of performance.

    Power steering is still an optional extra and it was fitted to the test car. It seems to have more feel than on the 2800. Slight front-end geometry changes give more negative camber to the outside wheel on a bend and the whole car feels better balanced as a result. Before there was initial understeer which gradually gave way to slight roll oversteer, but now the characteristic is virtually neutral, with immediate steering response at all times. It is probably because of this change that self-levelling rear suspension is now felt to be unnecessary.

    Most of the time the ride is the same smooth and very refined affair it was on the 2800, but occasionally there seems to be some conflict between front and rear spring rates which sets up rather too much pitching on roads like French chaussee deformee, especially when the car is well laden. As well as the 1,600 miles we drove the 3.0S in this country we drove a similar model through France for another 200 miles or so mostly on lesser grade roads. It was here that we spent several hours in the back and tried the optional cloth seat trim.

    Fittings and furniture

    The driver sits quite high in the 3.0S with a commanding view over the large flat-deck bonnet and through the low-silled side windows. Pedal angles and operating arcs are good, provided you sit veil up to them, but the throttle is a bit awkward in the latter part of its travel. The short stubby gearlever is exactly whore it should be and the long-handled handbrake is well-placed between the seats. The 16.8in. dio. steering wheel feels too large and it is set just a shade too high.

    Upholstery on the test car shown here was a kind of plaited pvc which despite its breathing capabilities was hot and sticky to sit on in warm weather. We much preferred the optional cloth which had the added advantage of softening the padding, or so it seemed, and giving a much more suitable air of luxury to the interior.

    Front scats have redining backrests and detachable headrests (as on the 2800) and similar headrests arc now mounted also on the rear shelf for those in the back. They tended to get slightly in the way, of vision through the rear view mirror, even when folded as for down as possible.

    There is at least 40in. of total rear legroom even with the front seats right back, and enough headroom for 6ft passengers. In the middle of the back seat is a folding armrest which tucks away to give ample three-abreast seating (56in. of hip room). Front seats feel slightly short in the cushion and much too firm for real comfort when covered in pvc.

    Directly in front of the driver is just about the best integrated instrument panel we have ever seen. Under a single glass are sot a huge matching speedometer and rev counter, with the fuel gauge and a temperature gauge between them. Below in the centre is a strip containing all the warning lamps for ignition, oil pressure, main beam, low fuel level, handbrake on and low brake fluid level.

    Under the right-hand side of the wheel rim is a stalk for the indicators (and left or right hand parking lamps with the ignition off), screen washers and vipers. The washers squirt when this lever is pulled up towards the wheel and at the same time the wipers start up and continue for several wipes after the water stops. Pushing in the end starts and slops the wipers alternately, their speed selector switch being right across the car in its original position to the left of the ashtray. As well at two continuous speeds there is an intermittent action with 5 sec. delay between double sweeps.

    A similar stalk under the left of the wheel is the dipswitch and headlamp flasher. Side and headlamps are operated by a push-pull knob on the facia to the right of the instrument cluster. Headlamps extinguish automatically when the ignition is switched off.

    Under the facia are three coloured push-buttons which light up when in use. One (amber) is for the heated back window, another (red) for the four-way hazard-warning flashers and the third (green) for fog lamps when fitted. The horn is sounded by push bars in each of the three steering wheel spokes.

    The main interior mirror can be dipped at night and the standard outside one on the driver's door is fitted with smoked glass.

    Heater controls are grouped in the centre of the facia, with a progressive air-blending temperature selector, an air intake lever which also operates the three speed booster fan, a distribution control and an air-flow regulator for the very effective ventilation system. Extractors in the rear quarters are now hidden under flush panels which replace the 2800s painted grilles.

    In front of the passenger seat is a deep drop down glove box behind which is concealed the bonnet release and fuse box. In the centre ahead of the gearlever is a big hollow console, ideal for maps, guide books, camera or handbag. In each front door there is a pocket and two more in the backs of the front seats.

    It is hard to think of a car less likely to need Spanners, but with every BMW 3-litre there comes the kind of tool-kit most mechanics would guard with their life. It is almost hidden in a padded compartment in the boot lid and contains spare bulbs, fuses. spanners, three new spark plugs. Allen keys, feeler gauges and even a spare wheel nut. Unfortunately the ring spanners do not have cranked ends, which makes them much loss useful.

    The spare wheel is under the floor of the boot, so virtually all the luggage must come out in the event of a puncture. On the right inside the boot is a very useful stowage box where odds and ends can be packed away to prevent thorn rattling.

    The BMW six cylinder cars were the first to use flat smooth sided "computer" keys which operate the lock tumblers by means of recesses drilled to different depths. The keys are therefore smooth in the pocket and much stronger. Two are provided in the form of a master key for all locks and a sub key for the doors and ignition only.

    Accessibility under the bonnet is good, especially after the large flat air cleaner has been removed. The lid is self-supporting and it has a positive lock.

    Four tungsten halogen headlamps give a tremendous blaze of light on main beam, but not much spread in contrast when dipped. Adjustment is critical but easily taken care of by means of plastic knurled screws under the bonnet on the backs of the light units.

    It is very hard indeed to think of any car which makes even a fair showing against the BMW 3.0S when all its considerable appeal, m terms of performance, economy, refinement and carrying power, is taken into account. Some models arc more luxuriously trimmed inside (especially in the opinion of those who put great score by such things as real wood veneer and genuine leather), some are a little quieter to ride in and others perhaps more comfortable over undulating roads. But when it comes down to the real crux of how much fun there is in driving, how much verve the car naturally wants to display and how much satisfaction it gives the driver, the BMW 3.0S in our opinion is unmatched in the saloon car class.
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  •   Richard Gunn reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    E3 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER

    The E3 Bavaria is a rare old beast, and this beautiful bagged example is a slice of sheer retro perfection. Brian Hoehne wasn’t all that impressed by the battered remains of this E3 Bavaria when he first clapped eyes on it. But we can all be thankful that he gave it a shot… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Dan Crosley.

    BMW’s New Six line of the late-1960s and ’70s can be neatly segmented into two distinct circles: performance and luxury. The former is probably what would spring to mind for most people when considering these early six-cylinder bruisers; the E9 coupé, darling of the motorsport scene in racy, Capri-baiting CSL form, and a boisterous statement of lurid paint and borderline-legal aerodynamic additions in road-going homologation form. And the latter? Why, that’d be the E3 saloon – the gentlemen’s express of the Europe of yesteryear, spiriting bankers to the next big-figure meeting in a Rolls-Royceesque fugue of ‘adequate horsepower’ and genteel appointments.

    But if we move these circles together to create a simplistic Venn diagram, an intersection appears in the middle containing this rather visually noisy E3 Bavaria, resplendent in disco paintwork and confrontational spoilers. It’s an angry and uncompromising thing, very much the apogee of both facets of the Jekyll-and-Hyde New Six, converging into one mean cruiser. Interestingly, despite what you might guess, that shade of Inka orange was actually a factory option on the E3. But we’ll get to that in due course… first of all, just what manner of person could create such a thing?

    Brian Hoehne scuttles in from stage left, eager to provide a little background on his thought processes. And it all began back in high school: “It was back then that my friends and I first got into cars,” he recalls, luxuriating in a swell of nostalgia. “A buddy and I would take out his father’s E46 328is and go cruising after school, running errands and so on. We would leave the neighbourhood, then pop the automatic into Sport mode and start speeding around the winding roads of Connecticut. After high school and in college, I have to admit I lost touch with my interest in cars for a short while, until I found myself detailing cars for a funeral home; although my major of choice in college was Mortuary Science, it was cars that became the really significant part of my daily life at that point.”

    Soon after graduating from college, Brian found himself settling into a happy routine of restoring and modifying cars as a hobby. “That’s when I met a friend who owned a small repair shop specialising in BMWs – it brought back happy memories of my high school years, and I knew that I wanted to restore a classic Beemer. I started a restoration on my ’91 M Tech 2 Convertible and, as with any restoration, a lot of work went into it – I just rolled up my sleeves and dove in. Ten months later I had my dream: a beautiful E30 Convertible!”

    But, as is so often the case with you itchyfingered modifying types, that wasn’t the end of the story. How could it be? After a month or so of cruising around in his freshly reworked E30, Brian started to feel a void within himself, a seemingly insatiable thirst for something different and unusual to tear apart and bring back to life. It was at this point that he decided his perceived ‘hobby’ was more than it seemed, and it was time to start a business doing what he loved.

    Working with a couple of friends, New Direction Motorsports made its first fledgling footsteps into the retro modifying scene. So why an E3 Bavaria of all things? “The search for my next #BMW had me looking through the pages of classic BMW magazines,” Brian recalls. “Stumbling upon pictures of E24s and E12s gave me a lot of inspiration, but I had real difficulty finding one for sale that I liked. And then one day, one of my business partners mentioned seeing an ad on a local Craigslist for an E3. The first time I saw a Bavaria, I have to say it wasn’t exactly love at first sight – frankly, it didn’t really catch my eye. But I’d always liked the sporty feel of the E9, and having a limited budget made me realise that the coupé was not in my near future, so I decided to give the E3 a chance.”


    The advert offered a running and driving #BMW-E3-Bavaria (for the uninitiated, the original Bavaria was a US-only offering – a variant of the E3 which fitted the 2800 model’s larger engine into the more basic 2500’s chassis, hot-rod style; when the range was updated in #1971 , the #Bavaria name stuck for the US domestic market) and, with life and business getting in the way a little, it was a month or so before Brian trekked a few towns over to take a peep. And he wasn’t all that impressed. “At first glance, it was a mess,” he sighs. “Walking around the car, I saw that every panel had flaws, trim was missing, there was filler everywhere, and each panel was a different shade of tan.”

    In addition to this, the interior was in bits, and the back seat and boot were brimming with random parts. Brian was on the verge of walking away when the seller revealed a fact that piqued his interest. “He told me that it had previously been a race car, and after years of track racing it was given away as a project and was soon forgotten. I wasn’t impressed by the state of the car, but I’m pleased I asked him to fire it up – the first time I heard the rumble of that M30, I knew that I wanted to help the legacy of this car live on. I had to have it! After a quick test drive, we packed every inch of it with spares from the seller’s basement and I brought it home.”

    Straight away, Brian set about sketching up a plan of action for the mighty Bavaria. The most important task – and most daunting in its involvement – was sorting out that battered and bruised bodywork; having been a race car for a significant period of time, there wasn’t a single panel that didn’t require some degree of repair, but such was Brian’s clear-headed forthrightness toward reviving the old warhorse, he made short work of getting everything straight and true. So the next fun step was choosing the right colour scheme to best display those painstaking straightening efforts.

    “I knew I needed to update the exterior colour of the car, to make it a bit more contemporary,” he says. “The styling of the tail panel made me think of the General Lee Dodge Charger from the beginning, so I had orange in mind. With a little investigating, I found out that Bavarias were offered from the factory in Inka orange, so I knew that it was the right choice – it worked well with the interior, and was the right colour to make the car look new and modern but still be in-keeping with the era of the E3.”

    Something else that Brian had been sure of from the start was that car would be running air-ride. For many, this is a nobrainer, as it offers a desirable mix of dayto- day practicality in terms of getting over speedhumps etc, decent ride and handling, and also the ability to drop the chassis rails to the ground on a whim and irritate pipesmoking purists. What’s not to like?

    “Throughout the project, I hadn’t been able to get those early thoughts of E9 CSLs out of my mind,” Brian continues, “and it’s this that very much informed the aesthetic – I wanted to create an E9-styled E3. The original plan was to incorporate the front airdam, rear spoiler and roof spoiler from a CSL, although in the end I decided to omit the roof spoiler after all, as it just didn’t work with the overall look of the car. I think it looks a lot cleaner without it. But I was still hard-pressed on the front airdam!” You’ll notice that the boot spoiler isn’t actually that reminiscent of a CSL wing, but is instead a sturdy rubber mini-ducktail affair. It’s actually a Motorsport item for an E21 3 Series but, by a fortuitous stroke of serendipity, it fits the Bavaria’s boot perfectly, neatly complementing the black number plate panel between the lights. Impressively cohesive, isn’t it?

    The interior continues that retro early-’70s gentleman’s express chic, augmenting the humming twin-carb’d 3.2 with a thoroughly civilised set of soft-and-squishy brown seats; brown, in fact, is very much a theme inside, with the doorcards inciting a craving for chocolate, and some lovely bespoke woodwork seeing the parcel shelf, dash, and air-ride install being swathed in custom oak. And it’s not often you see the phrase ‘custom oak’ appear in these pages.

    “I have a few talented friends who I trust and employ for their help on projects, because I know they seek out the same shared vision for each car,” Brian explains. “Working on any project at New Direction, especially this car, allows me to fill my need for accomplishing goals and fulfilling my love for cars – I find myself building cars for the sheer enjoyment, and the time spent with people who share this same hobby.” And that, really, is the reason we do all this, isn’t it? It’d be no fun to do it if you had nobody to share it with. And as the fledgling company forges onward into the future, you can be sure that this astoundingly orange old saloon is very much representative of New Direction’s skills and passion. This, it seems, is just the beginning.

    Original interior is a riot of brown with a few cool touches like the custom parcel shelf and duck’s head gear knob.


    “The first time I heard the rumble of that #M30 , I knew that I wanted to help the legacy of this car live on”

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre straight-six #M30B32 , twin #Weber carbs, five-speed #Getrag gearbox.

    CHASSIS: 8x16” (front and rear) Rial Mesh wheels with 195/40 (front and rear) tyres, custom Air Lift suspension and management.

    EXTERIOR: Inka orange, custom CSL-inspired front lip, E21 Motorsport rear spoiler, shaved antenna, door mouldings and side markers.

    INTERIOR: Original #E3 , custom oak parcel shelf and dash inserts, duckbill gear knob, custom ten-gallon air tank with hidden compressor and oak surrounds.

    This is one seriously good-looking #BMW-E3 and slammed over those Rial 16s it’s a painfully cool slice of retro sexiness.
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