I have eight cars insured with Hagerty—seven BMWs and the Lotus Europa—that comprise my not-a-collection. In these coronaviral times, when events are few and far between, I simply try and pleasure-drive them to keep them exercised. But there’s one of them that never ceases to surprise me, and that’s my 1973 BMW Bavaria ...
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Love the DIY muffler wrap. Due to Covid I just did the same to my XJ6 exhaust pipe. When I was young I couldn't afford flashing and clamps so I used cut up cans and coat hangers.
In 1973 I was a junior in high school when my father decided to buy a new family car. I remember trying to talk him into a Bavaria since it was a well engineered, practical, roomy four-door sedan. But Dad was a "Pontiac man" and wasn't about to take advice from a 17 year old who was trying to sell him on the idea of a foreign car that he had to shift gears himself. He bought a new Grand Prix.
Oh, yes - very much "get" this. I bought a totally rust free "California" BMW 2800 - not the coupe. Most of my cars are British - SIII XJ6, '66 E-Type coupe, '69 Elan coupe, ' Frogeye Sprite, '60 Morris Minor, Land Rover Discovery - but I have great memories of some enjoyable somewhat illegal but pretty safe high-speed runs in eastern Oregon on deserted roads in the Bimmer. It now sits in a friend's garage - he loaned it to another friend who crunched the left rear a bit, and so it sits and sits. I confess to being tempted, as it is still rust-free...
Being used to British cars (I grew up in the UK and I expect them to run reliably assuming knowledgeable maintenance, which I am luckily able to render) I have had no real issues with regularly using any of my Brit cars, but the Bimmer gives a pleasantly different - not better, just different - driving feel.
Just what I need - another restoration -
My neighbor has several older BMW's. He reminded me of their slogan, "The ultimate driving machine." They were never inexpensive, but today's more complex BMW's have a new slogan, "The ultimate wallet depleting machine."
Thanks Rob. This makes me sad to think we have to sell our 1974 Bavaria (moving). It also has a clean body but just 45,000 mi. We mostly putter around town on Sundays in it, but when I get a chance on the Interstate it's fun to pass everyone. There's no car like it IMHO. Walt in MA.
I had a friend who bought a beautiful light blue met. Bavaria in 1973. It was navy inside with an automatic transmission. I was not familiar even though beemers were becoming more common in CT displacing Mercedes and Cadillacs. That 3.0 engine was turbine smooth, and realizing one is driving at twice the speed limit was a common problem. I remember also other BMW owners would flash hi beams in recognition, it was like being in a certain elite group.
As a car crazy 15 year old I was introduced to BMWs by a high school friend. His father owned a 1973 Bavaria and it was a gem. Fast smooth and a joy to drive, when i got a chance at age 16. No power steering so the bus sized wheel was needed at slow speeds. Fast forward a year and I convinced my dad to buy first a 2002 and then a 530i. I passed my drivers test in a 2002 in 1976. My first car was that 530i given to me after graduation from university by kind parents. I have had a BMW in the fleet ever since. Currently I have a E36 euro model M3 insured through Hagerty and an E46 M3.
I have a very soft for the bavaria, my introduction to BMWs
Rob, no need to put an apology in the first part of your article. Anyone who has crested 60 years of age and is still doing what you're doing deserves some grace. Thanks for this very interesting article and what you do. While many of us can sit here in our Coronavirus tinged places and shoot opinions over the interweb, you just get er done. Thank you for your thoughtful words and intriguing storyline.
When I was a student at Amherst College 50 years ago (close enough to 45 years), I can't recall any Bavarias on campus, and I have no idea what the chairman of the math dept. drove, but I do know that the head of the Classics Dept. John Moore, drove an old red boxy Triumph Herald convertible coupe, which was definitely a cool car. We did have some other cool cars there; in my fraternity lived one of our football players, Jean Fugett (who later went on to play for the Steelers), and who drove a brand-new lime green Porsche 911T, acquired god-knows-how. The coolest car had to be the fly-yellow Ferrari 275 GTB/2 shortnose, owned by Reeves Calloway (of Calloway turbo Corvette fame), who attended there for a year or two before dropping out to get into the automotive boost business. These days, I assume the students all drive Priuses, or ride bicycles…
I enjoyed your article on the BMW Bavaria. i had a 1972 Bavaria until the Borg-Warner transmission failed a second time and selling it to an out-of-town BMW dealer. As you wrote, it didn't come with air conditioning, but the dealer (half-heartedly) agreed to install AC. I'll never forget the day I picked up the car. As I drove out of the dealer's lot, dense white clouds of frosty air blew from all vents. I had never seen this before and especially a new car, I immediately returned to the dealer who in his thick German accent, said, "normal". I took him at his word and drove the car for the next 5 years.
Later, someone backed into the front of my car crushing the middle section of the bumper. While I waited for shipment from Germany I removed the bumper and straightened it to my satisfaction. I still have the newspaper-wrapped metal bumper section which was never installed. Overall, I loved the Bavaria.
Initially, as you may infer the dealer was not easy to deal with, even for service. I soon found another BMW dealer owned by two young men who loved BMW's and raced BMWs. However, BMW of NA insisted all dealers must buy the minimum number of cars (large & small). Since this was impossible financially, even despite a growing customer base and purchasing the BMW-service computer ... they lost the dealership.