1971 3.0 CS - US to Australia (and back again)

rickpbaker

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Hi everyone,

My name is Rick. I’m 35 and live in Los Angeles. Good job, no kids, no girlfriend. Now’s the time to get a restoration going! But before I get into that, the backstory…

Myself, my twin brother and my Dad bought a LHD euro spec 1971 3.0 CS back in 2008 from the 2nd owner in Oregon. It was shipped back to Melbourne, Australia, where we lived at the time, and restored to a ‘good’ degree. You can see my brothers thread that documents that process slightly here.

Full down to the metal repaint, new custom leather upholstery and numerous other restoration type work. I say it’s ‘good’ because neither my Dad or the guy restoring it and worked much on BMW coupes before so they were doing the best they could with the little information they had.

Anyway, Dad enjoyed it for a number of years but eventually all the brothers had moved to the US for work and the car wasn’t being driven as much, space became an issue as mum and dad downsized. Dad loves his 1971 Karmann Ghia Cabriolet so the BMW had to go.

Not bloody likely! I decided to have it shipped back to the US. It’s been with me in Los Angeles for a few years now. Now my parents have something to drive when they come and visit.

To that end I found Tom Colitt to help me with some of the mechanical issues. He lived 20 minutes from my house and we became good friends as he would come work on the car with me at my place. We replaced the cylinder head together (original developed a crack) and he corrected a lot of smaller issues like the missing sill trim, various trim bits, fitment of doors/hood, replacing radiators, pumps etc.

Tom was just a very knowledgeable and friendly guy who always helped me. Such a shame he passed away, the world is a sadder place for it.

So now that Tom isn’t here to help me, I’ve determined to continue working on it myself. I’ve restored a couple 70’s motorcycles and daily-drive a 1973 Datsun 620 pickup truck so I’m not scared to get greasy, I’m just a little overwhelmed with all the things I don’t know about E9's.

This is where this forum is invaluable, and I’d like your help in deciding how to tackle this rather daunting project. First thing first, where I’m at currently…
 

rickpbaker

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From the dealer, my euro-spec CS car came with an Alpina front air-damn, sway bar and the ‘city package’ rear electric windows, power steering and stainless fender lips (all of which I still have). Don't let the stainless fender lips fool you, it’s not a CSL. No sunroof, no AC, no stereo.

The original owner did install a stereo, weld on extra beefy tow hitches on the front tow mounts (I’m told to tow the car back from the port in NYC to the owners house in Pennsylvania) and swap out the steering wheel for a MOMO piece. Some years ago the original owners son found me and swapped me that MOMO wheel for the original which he still had in his garage!


Mechanically

The fuel pump died. I’ve never trusted the fuel tank in this car so I decided to overhaul the fuel system. New fuel sending unit, NOS fuel pump, vinegar soak and flush the tank (worked great!), new fuel filter and clean the carbs as best I can. Should be able to get the fuel tank back in this weekend.

The transmission died. Or rather 2nd gear died. It had been going for a while. I bought a 4-speed out of a 30-years-sitting ’72 coupe along with all the shifting parts and bearings I’ll need. Might have a shop do this work for me as I don’t have a lift.

The rebuilt head Tom and I did is strong, brakes and suspension are good, the new radiator and rebuilt water pump is good, ignition leads are new, timing chains, gaskets, new oil filter etc.

I think the PO forced the fan clutch to ‘always on’ but that’s maybe not the worst thing in LA. I will replace that one day.

I think the power steering pump is leaking, probably should rebuild that.

I’ve been told various pipes hoses and routing of said hoses is incorrect. No idea where to start on straightening all that out.

I had a new muffler installed but the shop used the wrong mounting hardware and it hangs too low. I have the correct hardware to reinstall.

Engine bay needs a good clean.


Interior

The custom leather upholstery, whilst not ‘correct’, is quite good. However the ‘restoration’ on the wood is very incorrect and it bothers me greatly. The wood has way too much lacquer on it and it’s now a deep glossy brown/red. Not the nice flat almost-tan of the original.

The panel in the drivers foot-well under the steering column is severely warped, not sure how to recondition or replace that. Surrounding panels that this piece mounted to have damage from screws ripping out.

The chrome trim pieces along the the doors (and the vertical pieces that go up the front of the foot-wells) are missing screws and the holes have been over-drilled so the originals no longer fit. Not sure how to fix this short of welding in new material and re-tapping.

All interior door panels are missing some plugs to hold the panels tight. Or they’re warped enough they don’t hold tight.

The center console is missing covering on the top right and it’s very obvious.

The headliner isn’t perfect but it’s ok for now.

Hood release latch is missing screws, no idea where to find the correct screws for this as they’re not listed on the parts fiche I could find.


Exterior

This is the frustrating part for me. I think the mechanical issues can be sorted, but the body issues might be a bridge too far.

I have since found out that the original owner and his brother replaced every panel with new BMW panels sometime in the 80’s. They didn’t have a car to compare against so did it from memory/eye. The workmanship is good, however the welds and fitment especially in the engine bay is very obviously different than the original cars.

Which wouldn’t be such an issues except when it comes to the fitment of the doors. With Tom Colitt’s original car to compare against, we determined that at least the front quarter panels are pinched in too much so the doors will likely never fit correctly. Tom and I endlessly adjusted them.

I think the doors probably had too much sanded down off them try and make them fit because they seem to have somewhat lost that crease-line and there’s way too much filler in the right hand door that the rubber trim won’t stick to it….

I fear the ‘new’ front quarter panels may have made the fitment of the hood impossible to get true too, but I’ve heard that’s a common issue with these cars anyway?

The upside to all this is that there is very little rust in my car! And I have a fuel injection mount on the inner fender even though my car is a CS because that inner fender was the last one BMW had back in the 80’s.

Another big issue with the ‘restoration’ down in Australia was that the belt line trim was overtightened and has now pulled through the paint.

There’s also some touch-up paint on the right hand rear panel in front of the wheel arch where a 16-year old clipped the car.


Next steps?

I’d be happy to spend a couple of grand having someone who knows the cars and has access to parts sort it for me so that when I have the money to sort the body issues one day I could.

To that end, I did take the car down to Couple King with the idea of paying them to fix all my mechanical and interior issues. They were nice enough to put my car up on the lift and take a look. Then Erik took me outside and pointed to a rolling chassis project car and said I’d be better off buying that and putting all my good parts on it than try to fix my body issues.

So… after all this… what do I do? Do I get all my mechanical and interior issues sorted on this car, save and do a bunch of body work on it to get it straight and the does fitting? The advantage being this is my car, I know the good and the bad of it and there’s no rust, which is ‘not nothing’ on these cars.

Or do I look for a straight, no rust project car and swap everything onto that? Then sell my shell and any remaining parts.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

Marc-M

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Its hard to say what is the right way to go – but from the pictures, its clear that its had quite a bit of work done in and if it’s not rusty I would not bother changing the car over to another.
Getting gaps and lines is a hard and takes time – but I would think it’s a much better route to take your car to a good car restorer/ metal worker to modify the doors to get the gaps right.
It would be a lot cheaper to do that than strip a whole car and put it into another….
If the swage lines are just to far away to get right and cant be sorted – maybe a new door skin put on in the right place will do the trick, etc etc.

The way i have done mine was to fit the door so the swage line was perfect ( you cant move the wings only the door) and then you look at the gaps it gives you.
They will be crap.... and the only way to get everything perfect is to weld or grind steel from the door itself or its surroundings – or even both.
My CSL door gaps (front edge) were uneven at the leading edge so I have had to weld a 2mm bead of aluminium along the length – I will also need grind a little off the bottom rear wing as well to get perfect gaps..


Have a look at these to give you and idea of what can be done


 

HB Chris

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When did Tom pass away? I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. What is your coupe’s vin? There is no city pack on a standard CS, only on a CSL, all CS have electric rear windows. Looks like you have your work cut out for you. I would make sure it is a reliable driver and just enjoy it, restoring the body is not going to be cheap.
 

rickpbaker

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@Marc-M: I've actually never thought to modify the doors like that. Only because I'd been told there was no longer any adjustment left. But if I were to actually heavily modify the door, that's a different story. I think I'd rather find new door skins at least as I know mind were sanded down quite a bit to try and get them to fit. Honestly if the doors fit right I'd be ok with the welding in the fenders not being correct.

@HB Chris: Tom passed away a couple months ago. He was working on his customers coupes right up until the end, I spoke to him a week before he went about a customers car he thought I should buy and sell mine. I was out of town for work and said I'd visit when I got back. He was gone by the following week. I was gutted, really liked that guy and how helpful he was to me and my Dad when he really didn't have to be.

My coupe's VIN is 2211220. I have most of the original documentation and piles of recepits so I could double check the dealer spec sheet. I believe it's still behind the rear seats too.
 

Strato102

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Your car looks fine. Actually better than that. It was restored with new metal with welds etc. that don't quite match what the factory did or big dollar restorations are finally starting to pay attention to. Your car is missing that angle that fills in the gap between the inner fender and the rain channel of the outer fender...if you want to do something. Your front and rear seats have proper features and look good. If you are looking for a project get another and enjoy your nice car while you do a restoration. Then you will have two. You described your present status/situation. Hedge against the risk of taking your car apart and "having life get in the way"!
 
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HB Chris

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I am only familiar with the paper sheet behind passenger rear sheet which gives the build code which denotes (manual, auto, euro, US).
 
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