Monday, January 24, 2011

1973 BMW 3.0S

There are some big red warning flags at the beginning of this car's eBay listing. Bavaria is spelled wrong. (Not to mention that it's not a Bavaria). It's also inexplicably listed as a 3 Series. You have to wonder about a car's recent history when the seller doesn't really know what he has.

Having said that, this is a really nice looking 3.0S.

The 3.0S was an impressive car in its day. (You can find a November, 1973, Road & Track test here.) It was large, fast and luxurious. You can look at it as the grandfather of today's 7 Series.

The 3.0S was a well built car, but it had two very big problems. Cylinder heads on late 70s BMW sixes had a nasty habit of cracking. BMW redesigned the head sometime in 1980, and many cars have been retrofitted with newer heads. The easiest way to prevent an older head from cracking is to buy a more efficient radiator or have the one in the car recored. A lower temperature thermostat is also recommended.

Rust was the second problem. These cars rusted in Italian-like fashion. This car, located in NY and having a Vermont oval sticker on the back, should be thoroughly checked for rust and / or poor rust repair. (The seller says it has two rust spots on the "lower drivers side", but they're tough to see in the pictures.)

This car looks to be in really nice shape. The black over red color combination is one of my favorites. Everything looks to be original and stock, right down to the wheel covers.

Many JaCG readers will dismiss this car because of its automatic transmission. That's understandable, but really, at this point in this car's life it's more of a relaxed weekend cruiser than a racer. Put the car in "D" and enjoy the drive. (Or, convert it to a manual - The Senior Six Registry offers a how-to guide.)

Located in The Bronx, NY, click here to see the eBay listing.


WhiteFang said...

The primary reason that the heads cracked, was that the radiator was undersized for the USA market. Changing the thermostadt didn't help. Supposedly, the radiator was the right size for the manual trans cars, but I can't verify this... The car also had a million hoses - which could (and did) spring leaks at any given time...

I had a '72 for 2 years. A great car, except when sitting in traffic, you had to keep your eye on the temp gauge and you always had to be concerned about overheating...

I was told that the 74-76 models didn't have this issue, but again, can't verify...

So... there you have it.


taz said...

@White Fang

My family owned a 1972 Bavaria (Fjord/navy vinyl/4) from new until 2001. You are s-o-o right about sitting in traffic. And have the (so-called) A/C on too? Fergiddaboutit!

Here's the next chapter: in the early 1980's we locked out the radiator fan clutch by bolting the fan to the pulley. You had to remove the bolts to remove the fan, but the fan ran constantly and this almost eliminated Bavaria's hot nature entirely. True, it's crude, but also cheap and way effective. And no noticeable difference in driveability, N/V/H, economy, or component life.

Just saying, in case anyone wants to try that.

Tropical-spec replacement radiator a little later, and finally -- no more temp issues at all.

You know, your post has me thinking back -- after she was de-smogged and the cooling was addressed, she never had any more issues. Just expected maintenance stuff, until we sold her at about 175K miles.

Lionhead said...

Interesting enough I was searching online for a part for this car and came across your blog, to my surprise this is my car. I've been happily restoring this beauty since 2012. I know it's the same one because of the VT sticker in the back that it's now removed and the AAA sticker in the passenger head rest (also removed). I've enjoyed restoring it and more so driving it. It's definitely a head turner. It's good to know that its in your blog.