BMW Bounty #2 – 1972 BMW Bavaria

For part 2 of the BMW installment, I’ve found a 1972 E3 Bavaria in a fairly unlikely place: Wicker Park, IL. Find it on craigslist near Chicago for an asking price of $3400. In Sierra Beige, it looks pretty much like the loaner my parents had for a weekend back in the late 70s (who knew that car would make such an indelible impression on a little kid?). Normally I’m reluctant to post cars from areas that salt their roads, but this car looks on the surface to be pretty clean, and is a good example of the bargain the E3s can be versus the prettier E9 coupes.

This particular car comes with a 4-speed, air conditioning, and a power sunroof. Knowing that, a buyer would want to look for rust in the C-pillars, and honestly, pretty much anywhere else since most 1970s imported cars are rust-prone. The 4-speed is definitely the more durable powertrain choice, and upgrading to a 5-speed is an option if you want more relaxed freeway cruising.

1972 BMW Bavaria front

Walking around the car, you can see the good impression still holds up. The seller points out a dent in the rear quarter here, just barely visible in the picture. Other than that, the car looks pretty clean with no major rust breaking through. And he does say there’s very little rust on the car, but as a famous president said during this car’s youth, “trust, but verify”. Notice the wheels – these sport wheels used to be on many Bavarias, but as the years go on it seems most of them have been sacrificed to coupes.

1972 BMW Bavaria left

Opening the door, you can see the interior really is pretty clean too. The driver’s seat has a small split, and both it and the door panel seem to have some minor staining, but hopefully a leather/vinyl cleaner and some elbow grease would remove most of this. It also seems to suffer from “limp seatbelt syndrome”, so you’d want to replace these – or do they even have a retractor reel?

1972 BMW Bavaria interior

Finally, the rear is pretty clean too. This is one of few cars that actually looks good in beige, although throw a German TAXI sign on there and you could pick up confused German tourists. And with that center-mounted fuel filler, there’s no more guessing as to which pumps to pull up to.

1972 BMW Bavaria rear

No photo of the engine is available, but with 179K miles and a replacement engine back in the early 1980s, it should have a fair amount of life left in it. Cheap Bavarias seem to be becoming fewer and further between – is this just natural attrition, or are the surviving ones rare enough so the thin slice of competitors for each one is driving prices up? Or is the market realizing this is a bargain alternative to an E9, or a sporty alternative to a similar Mercedes?


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2 Responses to “BMW Bounty #2 – 1972 BMW Bavaria”

  1. carsinpedia Says:

    My uncle had one of these, a 3.0CSi, in fjord blue/tan, which I simply loved. It was big on the inside with those fantastic comfy seats and that smooth inline six. The only two down side were gas mileage and it was hard to drive in the rain.

  2. C Says:

    Hey all – I bought this thing a couple of weeks ago. The brakes hardly slowed the car, but now they are working. This thing is a hoot to drive! It still needs toms of TLC and a fair amount of $$$$. The previous owner didn’t do much upkeep the last eight years or so.

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