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M-Power Coupe

A classic BMW with an injection of M-Power!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • Beautiful restored '73 BMW coupe
  • 230+ kilowatt M5 engine
  • 4-pot Lockheed Racing brakes
  • Leather trim
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This article was first published in 2004.

The E9 CS-series BMW coupe is one of the most timeless, attractive vehicles from thirty years ago. The slim pillars and frameless doors give a clean ‘glasshouse’ appearance and the angular front and rear cut-offs are distinctive and purposeful. Cast an eye down the side and you’ll appreciate the integration of the door handles and the sporty engine vents. But sure, the CS BMW might be as pretty as a picture - but it also packed plenty of performance for its day.

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The E9 CS-series was offered as a 2500CS, 2800CS, 3.0CS, CSi and CSL (the latter the lightweight winged warrior built for racing). The vehicle seen here is a 1973 3.0CS. In standard form, the 3.0CS offered 180 horsepower (134kW) from a SOHC carb-fed in-line six. Not bad. However, as age moved in and wearied the BMW’s bones, the previous owner decided to treat this car to a full resto. After tending to the bodywork the owner then decided to axe the project – and this is where the current owner, Tomo, was there to pick things up.

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After having AUD$14,000 spent restoring the rare panels, glass and rubbers, the 3.0CS presented as-new. The only deviation from standard are the BMW 635 exterior mirrors and a later-model BMW paint colour.

The next step was to revive the engine – but what do you do when you want to keep the BMW lineage with performance that’s up to today’s standards?

The answer materialised in the form of a S38 engine from an early ‘90s E34 BMW M5.

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The S38 is a 3.6-litre straight-six with a DOHC, 24-valve head boasting solid lifters and individual throttle bodies. With a 9.8:1 compression ratio, the S38 3.6-litre engine cranks out 232kW. And you can bet that if it can accelerate the M5 saloon to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds, it’ll push the relatively lightweight CS even quicker!

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Herbert Gattermeier of Sydney’s Bavariacars was handed the task of transplanting a ‘90s heart into the classic Beemer. "It was no small job," says Herbert with a shake of the head. The transplant involved making space to accommodate the rear of the engine, moving the radiator forward, modifying the thermostat housing, fabricating mounts and switching to E21 rack and pinion power steering. "I would have also liked to put in a thinner radiator to give a little bit more clearance at the front of the engine,"says Herbert.

The factory-mated Getrag 265 5-speed manual was also slipped in under the trans tunnel – which, of course, needed extensive modification. A custom tailshaft is also fitted. Herbert sums it up by stating everything was very tight... The engine also sits down a long way due to the extra cant on later-model BMs. This has required fabrication of extensive sump protection.

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Firing the M-Power six into life is a MicroTech MT8 programmable management system, which takes a load input from a MAP sensor. Together with custom headers (which were required to clear the steering), a 2¾-inch single exhaust system and a large K&N pod filter, it is likely the engine makes slightly more power than stock. Two-forty kilowatts is our guess.

Grunt from the sweet M-six is channelled through a custom tailshaft to the standard 3.0CS rear-end. Herbert explains, "The rear-end of these cars is pretty strong – about as strong as a 7-series." Traction is provided by huge 255/35 Yokohama rear tyres, which are 40mm wider than the fronts. These rubbers are worn on period style 17-inch AJR alloy rims.

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While the suspension had been largely upgraded before arriving at Bariacars, Herbert has nevertheless fine-tuned matters – particularly the ride height. Hardware currently in service includes Bilstein shock absorbers, Eibach springs and all new performance bushes. The E9 coupe comes with MacPherson struts at the front and a semi-trailing arm IRS.

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Big brakes weren’t much of a marketing feature back in the early ‘70s, so the stock 3.0CS braking arrangement has been upgraded with 4-pot Lockheed Racing front callipers and rebuilt factory 2-pot rears. Four wheel ventilated discs came as standard fitment on the 3.0CS.

Tomo has owned no less than fifteen BMWs and can confidently say that this ol’ gal is bloody quick. "My everyday car is an E34 M5 and the coupe is much faster – it is around 600kg lighter, after all," he says.

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At the time of our photo shoot the only part left to wrap up was the interior. "I wanted to improve the interior but still keep the original feel," explains Tomo. This has so far involved switching to electric Recaro front seats, which are trimmed in soft BMW leather to match the rear seat and sections of the door trims. The standard woodgrain remains. The sound system has also been upgraded to a late-model BMW deck running aftermarket full-range speakers. Very neat.

With so much attention to detail and such a beautiful end result, Tomo is understandably attached to the car. "I’ll be using it as a weekend car primarily – it’s too precious to risk as a daily driver," he says.

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And would he ever be tempted to sell up?

No way. "Even if someone offered me stupid money I’d still keep it," says Tomo.

If it were us, we’d sooner sell a family member!

Contact:

Bavariacars +61 2 9879 7557

www.bavariacars.com.au

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