Feature Listing: 1979 BMW 323i Baur TC1

When enthusiasts think of custom coachwork and Germany, one name usually springs to mind: Karmann. Most identifiable for their combination with Ghia’s designs for Volkswagen, Karmann produced not only their eponymous creation Karmann-Ghia in both Type 14 and Type 34 configuration, but also the Beetle convertible. Volkswagen’s association didn’t end there, though, as the first Rabbit Cabriolets, both versions of the original Scirocco and the later Corrado were all built by the firm. So, too, were some of the first Porsche 356, 911 and 912 models, along with the 914. BMW, too, turned to the firm for ‘Big Coupe’ production, from the 2000CS to the E24 6-series. But when it came time to take the top off of their small cars, BMW looked elsewhere.

From Osnabrück BMW headed into the heart of the enemy’s home to Stuttgart, where Karosserie Baur was located. Baur was the company that BMW turned to when plans with Lamborghini to produce the supercar M1 fell through. Baur would later be the home that the infamous Group B Sport Quattro and Porsche 959 were produced in. In short, Baur was responsible for some of the most significant designs in German motoring and has plenty of expertise in factory-quality experience. It should come as no surprise, then, that they were the company that BMW selected to produce the first 3-series convertibles.

Taking the roof off the car seems simple enough; just grab a saw and go, ‘How hard could it be?’ Well, not so fast, as structural rigidity rears its ugly head. Beyond that, in the 1970s government nannies were indicating that the idea of a topless car was going to be outlawed, leading many manufacturers – including all of the major U.S. brands – to abandon the idea. Baur’s solution to the problem was to create a roll hoop ‘Targa’ model, which as we know from Porsche models offered multiple roof positions while simultaneously solving the issue of structural rigidity and occupant safety.…

Tuner Tuesday: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6

The E21. By far, it is the 3-series we feature least frequently (barring new models). In U.S. trim, it is also by far the least sporting 3-series. But don’t throw the baby BMW out with the bath water, because it’s still a classic BMW, it looks nice and it’s quite affordable relative to some other hyperbolic models.

For one, I really like the E21. I’ve even enjoyed driving a few. Of course, never once did I think when driving one “You know what this needs? A M60 V8.” And certainly, even in the very unlikely scenario that idea sprang into my head, there’s no way I would have said “Right, now, off to Dinan to bump it out to 4.6 liters!”

But, if nothing else, this Golf Yellow example of an extreme E21 dispels the myth that they’re all underpowered?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 320i Dinan 4.6 on eBay

1982 BMW 323i Baur TC1 Turbo

In a post I wrote for The Truth About Cars this past week, I covered a few E30 models that offer affordable and interesting visual and performance alternatives to the E30 M3. One of those models was the Baur TC2, the model which gave BMW a soft-top before BMW made its own in 1985. Of course, the E30 wasn’t Baur’s first foray into convertible 3-series models, though, as they had started with the E21 model. Baur only produced a little less than half the amount of E21s – 4,595 according to Petrolicious – as they did E30 models at over 11,000, but as importation of early 1980s cars was easier, it seems more common to see the E21 Baur than the E30 Baur. Though fitted as standard with no performance upgrades, this unique 1982 example remedies that with a turbocharged M20:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i Baur TC1 Turbo on eBay

1982 BMW 323i

Feeling blue that all of the affordable classic options are quickly becoming, well, not so affordable? There are still bastions of value if you’re willing to overlook the flash of the big names and instead just focus on a clever, unappreciated car. The E21 might just be the most unappreciated BMW ever brought to the United States, but most of that reputation is thanks to a relatively soft M10 engine allocation and one of the worst applications of federally mandated crash bumpers. Move on up to the M20 and the associated European trim and the story changes quite a bit. Suddenly, you have a 7/8ths scale M635CSi on a very affordable budget:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 323i on eBay

1978 BMW 320i

7The E21 has never been quite as popular among enthusiasts as later iterations of the 3-series. Produced between 1977 and 1983, the E21 was the successor to the beloved 2002 and the first in the line of BMW’s compact sedans to carry the “3-series” designation. Available only as a two-door sedan (and eventually a Baur cabriolet conversion, produced in very small numbers), the Paul Bracq-led design contains a number of classic cues: the steeply raked front nose and kidney grilles, the four round headlights and the “hoffmeister kink” in the C-pillar among them. Even when stymied by the dreaded, US-spec diving board bumpers, as here, these wedge-shaped cars have a quirky and charming look that embodies the best of early BMW styling.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 BMW 320i on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1982 BMW 320/6 Baur TC1

Calling Baur a tuner isn’t really very fair, but since we don’t have a separate category for semi-aftermarket carriage works, it will fit in. Baur worked in conjunction with a few manufacturers – most notably BMW, though a few Audi fans will remember that they were responsible for construction of the Sport Quattros too and they assisted in the assembly of the Porsche 959 as well. Much like Porsche originally started as, they were linked to the factory efforts due to their high level of unique production capability. That manifested itself in limited run models that required special construction – such as the Sport Quattro and 959 – but what most enthusiasts will remember are the multiple 3-series Cabriolet models produced through Baur. These were offered through dealers as an expensive option and to this day remain a very unique expression of Munich motoring:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320/6 Baur TC1 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1979 Alpina B6 2.8 – REVISIT

Back on the market in a reserve auction, the neat to see but slightly questionable 1979 Alpina B6 2.8 from last fall is a great 80s reminder of styling trends. See the post below for some items that look a bit off or out of place. Bidding has been pretty slow and is just over $20,000 – some $12,500 short of the asking price in September. Will it see a new buyer this time around?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Alpina B6 2.8 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site September 15, 2015:

10K Friday: BMW 3-series Showdown

Rightly so, I’ve been accused of comparing everything to BMWs – so for today’s 10K Friday, I thought why not compare BMWs to BMWs? Part of the reason I compare various cars I write up to the alternative BMW products is because for some time they have been considered the benchmark, and their popularity from new to the used classic market means that they set the pricing trends against which others can be judged. That’s especially true of the 3 series; for some time, the go-to performance product from Germany, increasingly many earlier generations of the 3 are being viewed as not only collectable, but indeed as investments. So, what does your $10,000 budget buy these days? I’ve rounded up five examples from the first five generations, covering nearly every configuration the small executive platform has been available in. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW 320is on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1979 Alpina B6 2.8

Edit 7/11/2017 – This car is back on the market from the same seller with a reserve auction

Vuarnet shirt, stone-washed high-wasted jeans, neon Wayfarers, legwarmers, Wham!‘s “Make It Big” album playing on your Walkman, a tennis lesson scheduled for later in the day with someone named Chad, Tad or Chaz, and a BMW 3-series; they’re immediately identifiable as a product of the 1980s, even if in this case they were made in the late 1970s. Take a moment to consider the seats in this Alpina; made by Recaro, they’d look as at home on Bill Cosby’s back as he lectured Theo as they would on the race track. But just as those trends from the 80s have been revisited by the “Hipsters” of today, there’s another class I’ve dubbed “Yupsters”, wishing to relive the glory of Wall Street and every club from the Breakfast to the Country. They’re interested in the BMW 3 series, and the major resurgence of the small executive sedan has become ironic in its own right, from the “Respect Your Elders” stickers plastered on cars not much older than the creatures driving them (who, even more ironically, typically don’t know much about history), to the hypocrisy of everyone being different by all owning E30s. The only things missing from the entirely predictable plotline are a Harold Faltermeyer soundtrack and a cameo at the local show by Steve Guttenberg. To me, the 3 series that comes out of all of this smelling like roses is the E21; relatively forgotten and overlooked due to less availability, sport and cliche, a turned up E21 is nonetheless a beautiful thing when properly done:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Alpina B6 2.8 on eBay

1982 BMW 320/6 Procar Edition

I feel as if the E21 is the Rodney Dangerfield of BMWs. It gets no respect at all. On its own, it would be considered a perfectly fine, well-engineered vehicle. However, the E21 had the problem of being sandwiched between two BMW legends, the 2002 and the E30 3 series, both of which enjoy a cult following to this day. This particular version of the E21 for sale in The Netherlands is one which I had no idea existed. We never saw the six-cylinder version of this 3 series in the US, an issue BMW would rectify when the E30 appeared in 1984. This Procar Edition with the carbureted, 2.0 liter inline-6 is mainly a trim level special, with Motorsports pin stripes, BBS wheels and special interior trim.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320/6 Procar Edition at Alphons Ruyl Classics