1971 BMW 2800CS ‘Batmobile’ Replica

BMW’s revolution and rebranding through racing started on March 25, 1973. At the Monza 4 hours race in the European Touring Car Championship, the CSL legend was born. Massive box flares, huge BBS magnesium race wheels and deep front spoilers adorned the delicate E9 coupe now, and the iconic German Racing White with blue and red stripes following the lines of the hood and sides of the car. And with drivers like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Chris Amon, and Dieter Quester, Jochen Neerpasch’s BMW Motorsport would go on to win many races and establish the brand that would later launch the infamous ‘Batmobile’ CSL, the 2002 Turbo, and of course the M brand. Prior to 1973, the top flight races were run by BMW through their partners Alpina and Schnitzer, and indeed the BMW Motorsport entrants at Monza failed to finish, with Niki Lauda at the hands of an Alpina E9. A few races later, the rear wing was introduced by BMW Motorsport, and in the hands of Dieter Quester the first BMW Motorsport win was recognized at the 24 Hours of Spa on July 22, 1973.

The 3.0 and later 3.5 CSLs would continue to race and win for a few years, establishing the brand as a serious contender to the established Porsche in the sporting market. And of course, the homologation road-going version has been a hot commodity since new, inspiring plenty of replicas. That is exactly what we have today – originally, a 2800CS that has been converted to look like a later CSL:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 BMW 2800CS ‘Batmobile’ Replica on eBay

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1953 EMW 327

Now, I know what you’re going to say….Carter hasn’t had enough coffee. Fair enough, and probably true. But this is a post-war EMW 327, not a pre-war BMW 327. Let me explain.

World War II changed the map of Europe, and the post-War period was a strange rebuilding and re-allocation period which saw serious changes to some of the names you know today. Volkswagen, a brand that effectively hadn’t really existed before 1939 and the outbreak of war, found itself the benefactor of British intervention afterwards and became the company we know today. Mercedes-Benz, similarly, picked up the pieces and continued on. Auto Union and the companies of the four rings fell inside the Soviet area of control, and as a result many of the plans, factories and engineers were removed from Germany and sent deeper into Russian control. Then there was the strange plight of BMW. Prior to World War II, though BMW had been a very successful aircraft engine producer and motorcycle champion of Germany, they were a minor player in the automobile industry. Still, they had produced some beautiful and notable designs, including the successful sports car racer 328. Although technically Munich lay in the American area of Allied occupation, there would be an interesting future for BMW. Connections with the British Army allowed a pre-War BMW dealer from Britain to jump into the Munich factory, grab a bunch of plans and some engineers, and return back to the island nation. That would yield the Bristol 400 – a car so heavily influenced by BMW’s 326, 327 and 328 designs that they even retained the signature kidney grills. More strange, perhaps, was the BMW plant at Eisenach. Unfortunately for the city, though centrally located in Germany and not particularly far from Munich, it lay about 6 miles inside the Soviet control border. But their factory had all the plans for BMW’s road cars, so after the war, they turned on the lights and started pumping out BMWs not made by BMW. This, of course, resulted in a lawsuit, and in 1952 they were forced to change their name to Eisenacher Motorenwerke, or EMW. Like Bristol, they retained all of the signature BMW bits, including the Roundel. But since they were in Soviet controlled areas, the Roundel’s color changed from blue to red:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1953 EMW 327 on eBay

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2004 BMW M3 Coupe

Update: This car sold for an impressive $48,500 on May 30, 2021.

Okay, I know it hasn’t been very long since I took a look at a few M3 coupes in Phoenix Yellow Metallic:

Double Take: 2004 BMW M3 Coupes

But today I had to come back with another. Late PYM coupes are a rare thing, and this one is spec’d in a pretty interesting configuration. Unlike a majority of the PYM cars that were more or less fully loaded, this one has no sunroof, gray leather upholstery, no Park Distance Control, and manual seats. Unlike the last pair it’s a manual, and it has under 60,000 miles. You can guess what all of these factors add up to in today’s market…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 Coupe on eBay

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1999 BMW Z3 2.3

The conundrum of the Z3 is for me wrapped up in the model’s signature appearance in Goldeneye. There was lots of promotion for the new model; after all, the change from Bond’s signature Aston Martin must have been for a car worthy of such a distinction. Granted, Audi beat BMW to the punch when James sported twin Type 44s in The Living Daylights but the fanfare surrounding the leap to BMW was unprecedented. And, as it turned out, largely unwarranted. Despite the hefty amount of advertising and anticipation of the debut, the 1.9 liter light blue convertible barely appeared in the movie at all – in fact, only long enough for James to toss the keys to someone else. This seems to largely sum up how enthusiasts feel about the successor to the Z1; cute, but a little too soft and not very BMW. Of course, as the model progressed it became more in keeping with the brand – especially true of when outfit by the M division. The resulting M Roadster and especially Coupe versions of the Z3 have become hot commodities in the marketplace, but if you’re willing to forgo the Roadstars, quad exhaust and especially the “S” motors in the front, you can still get a nice inline-six tied to a manual in a roadster.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.3 on eBay

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2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe

My wife and I had a rather amusing conversation recently. “How much does a new 911 cost”, she asked. Now typically I know questions like this are leading somewhere and she’s not a huge Porsche fan, so after some inquiry she asked why examples from the 80s and 90s are trading for the price of a new car. After I likened the Porsche 911 market to the Tulip craze, she said two really funny things. First, she said “Let’s not base our economy on it!”, something that got me laughing. Then she said that if it was so popular, why were manufacturers like Porsche building new examples of their old cars? The answer, as we discussed, was that it just wouldn’t be profitable. Though limited run manufacturers such as Singer and Eagle have seen success building “new” old cars, the reality is that between making cars safe enough and economical enough to meet today’s standards, they’d be heavy and slow – necessitating even more power, which would raise the price. Take the GT86/FR-S/BRZ clones; while critics have loved their handling and prices have been kept reasonable, they’re generally referred to as “slow” cars with 200 horsepower and 2,700lbs of curb weight – nearly identical to what the 1988 Porsche Carrera was specified at.

However, there are options outside of the 911 market for a personal sports 2-door that throwback to simpler times, and I think the M Coupe was one of the best. With a gutsy inline-6 up front, rear drive and a 6-speed manual, the E86 was a classic blueprint for a sports car. But it was modern at the same time, with over 300 horsepower from the sonorous S54 M motor and a thoroughly modern design. It was also a relatively limited run vehicle, meaning they’re rare to see. Yet, despite this they’re still relatively affordable as a not-particularly-old future classic that can be driven and enjoyed – and will likely appreciate, though…there’s a caveat to this particular one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe on eBay

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1991 BMW M5

For years I’ve banged on about the E34 M5, a conundrum of the M lineup. It’s got all the right DNA to be a classic, yet like the similar 944 Turbo has generally languished in value compared to similar products. That may sound like a broken record on these pages, but it’s a tune which is both catchy and sweet-sounding for BMW fans because it means they’re getting more car for their money. They’ve got plenty of the right ingredients – the last of the individual throttle body S38 motors producing 315 horsepower, Motorsport details throughout, a great subtle look which still is commanding of respect, supreme road manners and limited numbers – only 1,678 were imported. It’s the right recipe for a future classic. This chassis is still generally overlooked compared to the E28 and E39 models, but those that have spent some time behind the wheel of these well engineered, hand-built Q-Ships proclaim they’re one of the best BMW products made. Recent market activity in since 2016 has started to remix the tune, though, and E34s have been on the rise. Hagerty currently places top value on 1991 M5s at over $74,000 – steep sounding given what many traded for over the last few years, but perhaps more in line with their legendary build quality and performance especially when considering their siblings. So let’s see what a top value M5 looks like today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW M5 on eBay

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1995 BMW M3

While it was the E30 M3 that I lusted over as a young teen, I came of driving age with the introduction of the second generation E36. I still remember the first one I sat in; a 1995 Avus Blue with gray manual Vaders. At nearly $40,000, it was about as far away from me as the moon landing, but it was my dream car. I didn’t really care that the engine wasn’t the special individual throttle body motor Europe got, or that the headlights weren’t as nice. I cared that it was in the U.S., it was a great color, and because they were being sold that meant that I might be able to get one some day.

Fast forward to today, and if I’m completely honest Avus Blue isn’t my favorite color from the early M3 lineup anymore. Given the option, I’d take either a Dakar Yellow or Daytona Violet example. All three are fairly rare to see among the first 10,000-odd 3.0 M3s brought in before the light revision to the 3.2, when the color pallet changed. And of the three, I’m pretty sure Daytona is the one I’d seek out. Today’s car reminds me why

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay

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2002 BMW 540i Sport

The E39 540i will probably go down as one of the great from the company; combining good looks, potent performance, a luxurious cabin, and acceptable – but not too advanced – technology into a clean package. Dynamically, they’re great to drive, they make really good noises, and yet they still manage to fly under the radar more than an M5 does. They’re certainly one of the few have-your-cake-type cars out there. And despite being all of these things, they generally manage to be a lot cheaper than you might expect for a decent example; that is, outside of the 2003 M-Sport models. However, if you’re willing to step back just a year and get ever so slightly less M DNA in your E39, you can still find good examples of the breed for reasonable rates. Today I ran across a very nice 2002 to consider:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW 540i Sport on eBay

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2015 BMW M235i Convertible

Recently I looked at both the M2 and it’s badder, madder brother the M2 CS. They’re both giant killers of cars, following the age-old recipe of ‘stick a big motor in a small chassis’. Well, there’s a third option BMW offered with that formula. It’s a bit less wild than the other two, but it also has a lot of stuff going for it.

The M235i effectively picked up the reigns from the outgoing 135i. BMW stretched the wheelbase an inch and overall length 3 inches, gave it 4-Series styling up front and a revised rear end, and a refreshed interior – but underneath, the important bits remained effectively the same. You got a 320 horsepower N55 turbocharged inline-six that could be mated with a six-speed manual, big brakes, and M Sport suspension. True, like the 135i it wasn’t a full M model, but it’s still a lot of the experience of one. And unlike the M2, you could get more color inside! And, you could get a convertible! On top of all that, you can grab one for relatively short money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 BMW M235i Convertible on eBay

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2007 BMW 750Li

The BMW E65, and its long-wheelbase sibling the E66, were a radical departure from the beloved E38 I just looked at. But the fourth generation 7 was necessary to move the car forward in the leaps and bounds necessary to keep pace in the large executive market. Was it all bad? No, the post Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) cars starting in 2008 offered updated iDrive computer systems, styling, and engines. Here, this E66 has the N62 V8 cranking out 360 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. And it’s got some pretty cool options. And it’s a neat color combo! And, it’s cheap!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW 750Li on eBay

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