Buyer's Guide: BMW E9 Coupes

Photograph Courtesy BMW

Timeless lines married with just the right amount of utility. Thin pillars allowing a commanding view in nearly all directions. And that dominating motorsports pedigree.

We’re talking about the Porsche 911, right? Nope, the E9-chassis BMW coupe. In most cases, this means the 2800 CS (1968–’71) or the slightly more powerful 3.0 CS (1972–’75).

A high-performance variant, not imported at the time to the U.S., carried the 3.0 CSL designation, providing BMW with a homologation model for the day’s touring car scene. It brought more power along with less weight thanks to thinner sheet metal, aluminum body panels and plastic windows. The race version dominated Group 2 competition from 1973 all the way through 1979, well past the car’s production run.

No matter the guise, these are the models that slot between those first, slightly awkward-looking Neue Klasse coupes of the mid-’60s and the handsome, timeless 6 Series cars that soldiered on until the end of the ’80s. The E9 cars weren’t all-new, though, as they borrowed most everything aft of the windshield from their predecessors. Lengthening the nose, however, helped Wilhelm Hofmeister and team to nail the proportions.

That longer nose wasn’t just about looks, though. It provided space for an inline-six engine. Now the BMW coupe offered the full package, as noted in a 1970 Road & Track test of the 2800 CS: “a new standard of sophistication and understated luxury for 6-cyl cars.” Another highlight from that review: “It just looks right.” The editors called the front seats “superbly designed” and found the engine to be “powerful and responsive.” Just a single fault, recalled from an earlier drive in Germany, was noted: slow window motors.

And all these years later? That praise holds true, says Arjun Soundararajan, CEO of BMW tuning firm UUC Motorwerks and owner of a pair of E9-chassis cars. “It’s a swoopy, cool, long car,” he says. “I’m looking at 2002 prices and wondering why someone isn’t buying a 3.0 at this point.”

BMW E9 Coupes Shopping Advice

Our Expert:
Arjun Soundararajan
UUC Motorwerks

To me, personally, from a shape standpoint, it’s a classic profile of what is a BMW.

It’s remarkably nice over a bend or in a corner. It’s very user-friendly. It’s literally intended to be used as a daily driver.

You’re not going to go wrong with a 2800 or a 3.0. The 2800 came with rear drums. I would steer you towards a 3.0 due to better brakes.

I would say, in a perfect world, you would look for one in this order: rust-free, good engine, good suspension.

Inside the front wheel well there’s this little pocket, if you will, and water will go into that pocket and it has nowhere to go, so these cars would rust from the inside out. There’s no great reason why that pocket is there.

A lot of people went to E28 heads because the stock heads would corrode. A 3.5-liter from an early E24 would fit in an E9.

Some people automatically upgraded to Webers. Those are great.

Windows are another thing that they struggled with. They have weak motors.

The CSL: They’re cool things to talk about, but not cool things to live around. You’ll just wish it had regular glass so you could clean the thing.

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wspohn SuperDork
6/13/20 10:54 a.m.

A neighbour had the now quite rare 2000 CS which oredated the E9, and din't look too bad.

Of all that sort of styling, though, my favourite wasn't the 3.0 CS but the later first generation E24 with the 635 CSI coupes.

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