1973 BMW 3.0CS Automatic E9
When Jack Reason fell in love with the BMW E9 he put himself on course to undertake a colossal restoration project. As you can see, it was well worth it...
Fixation E9 3.0CS Restored coupé
With BMWs, few forget their beginnings. “The first BMW came into the family when I was about 13 or 14, it was a 1990 E34 525i in Atlantisblau,” said 32-year old Jack Reason – owner of the stunning E9 3.0CS you see before you. Jack and his family had, however unwittingly, begun an automotive adventure of the Bavarian kind. A 1986 BMW 635CSi E24 – a non-runner bought for just £100, came next (and it is still in the family today), plenty more cars followed.
“Over the next few years more and more BMWs joined the collection, all purchased by my father – generally cars in good cosmetic condition but with some kind of mechanical or electrical fault which we could fix,” Jack recalled. “This includes a 1999 E39 530d Touring with a snapped timing chain, a 1990 E30 325i convertible with a mis-timed and damaged engine, and a 1999 E39 M5 with a piston through the block.”
There were others; an E24 635CSi, E28 M535i, E30 320i Convertible, two E34 M5s, a E32 730i, and a E31 850i to name only a few. There’s also a 1972 2002 tucked away awaiting restoration at this very moment in time. Naturally, it was impossible to play a part in this family story without letting BMWs infiltrate your soul. That Jack’s current daily driver is a 2019 G20 318d perhaps says much about his commitment to the cause. But less of that, more of the E9 we’ve come to discuss. “Finding an E9 was the ultimate goal,” Jack explained. “The first time I saw one was in the BMW Classic museum in Munich, I believe it was a 3.0CSi in Turkis Green. The first E9 I went to look at was in around 2010. The car was complete and fairly solid but it was still going to need a substantial amount of work.” It wasn’t the work ahead that put Jack off, though, but the colour – Sienabraun. Brown just wasn’t for him. The next car he viewed at – a 1973 3.0CS – was a different story...
“It was in terrible condition,” Jack laughed. “I found it on eBay, it was in Ipswich so fortunately close by. It had been partially stripped down with all external trim and glass removed, the body had been coated in a thick grey primer over the original paintwork. From the eBay photographs it was impossible to tell what colour it was supposed to have been. It was another of those projects that had been started before interest was lost, or the scale of work required had become too much.”
The car had not been on the road in over a decade. The engine ran, albeit roughly, but it would not drive due to an automatic transmission fault. Jack was assured by the owner that all of the parts were present and correct – and as it turns out, they were. All the same, it was a bit of a risk. An offer was made to the owner and he reluctantly accepted. Jack collected the car the following wefi, then put it into storage for a year before anything further occurred.
“After a year in storage we towed it to my father’s workshop where we removed the engine and transmission,” Jack said.
“The car couldn’t stay there as the workshop was needed, shortly afterwards we found a farm building that was being converted into four separate units. We took one for working on cars. It also gave us the opportunity to install a ramp which is an invaluable investment when carrying out a project of this magnitude. Once ready, the E9 was taken to the unit for a complete strip down. Everything was removed. Every last piece.”
A test and development engineer for an agricultural machinery manufacturer by day, Jack is exactly the kind of methodical and level-headed chap who could handle a job of this scale, nevertheless the task at hand was monumental. Jack’s plan of attack was simple. On paper, at least. The restoration was split into two parts. Firstly, bodywork. Secondly, everything else.
“The bodywork needed expert attention, a BMW specialist restorer was given that job but it wasn’t until the bodyshell had been completely shot blasted that it became apparent just how much work was going to be needed,” Jack recalled. “It came back from being blasted looking like a colander. The outer panels were removed to reveal the condition of the internal structure, that also required significant repair.
“New panels, including door skins, rear quarter and rear panels were sourced directly from BMW, a bonnet was found from another E9. Inner repair sections were sourced from either BMW, a specialist in Germany or, where not available, they were fabricated in-house. All the fabricated parts were made to match the originals with pressings, folds and creases in all the correct places.”
Once the inner structure was repaired, the new outer panels were fitted. The joints between panels were lead loaded rather than filled with polyester. Next, the body received paint, back to the original 037 Fjord Metallic. Time for the second act.
“The remainder of the work required was all done by us,” Jack explained. “First was the engine rebuild.”
The car still had its original engine block and three-speed Borg Warner automatic gearbox. The engine was stripped down and checked for damage, then rebuilt using new parts where required – including a new camshaft as the original had succumbed to the well documented oil spray bar banjo bolt issue. Hours of shot-blasting and painting – or powder coating – of the suspension, structural components and other small brackets, followed.
“The entire wiring harness was unwrapped of its binding tape which had turned into a sticky mess after 40-years, it had various Scotchlok-type modifications removed and repaired before rebinding with new fabric harness tape. The interior parts of the car also needed significant attention,” said Jack.
“The original seats were complete but threadbare in places. They were replaced by another set from a donor E9 to keep the car looking original in its blue velour. The E9 has wood veneered interior trim, the veneer had started to lift in places and in others the lacquer had gone opaque or discoloured,” said Jack. “I took my time and slowly managed to remove all of the original lacquer from the wooden parts. I was convinced that at some point I was going to totally ruin it but after persevering I did actually manage to repair the lifted veneer and re-lacquer it all myself,” Jack explained.
“I could go on and on discussing the innumerable other jobs that were needed to put this car back on the road, however, no part on the car was left untouched.”
One glance at this car is all the confirmation you need that Jack could, indeed, fill a book with the story of its restoration. It’s also all you need to understand that this is a car which is very dear to its owner’s heart. The completed project is certainly something to behold.
“The E9 is garaged throughout the year but it comes out on occasion, generally for car shows arranged around Suffolk – joining the BMW Car Club Great Britain East Anglia region, of which I am a member,” Jack explained. “Members of the public are generally very kind and complimentary about the car. The question I am most often asked is, ‘Is it a six Series?’ I believe that as there as so few of them left that people are very intrigued by it as most people have never seen one but it somehow has a familiarity about it with the four headlamps, shark nose and grille.”
Since the E9 has been back on the road, Jack reports very little trouble with the car. The carburettors were replaced, the original Zenith 35/40 INAT stripped down, cleaned and rebuilt during the restoration, but evidently simply worn out. There was another problem with poor starting. A pair of brand new genuine Weber 32/36 DGAV were fitted to solve all this, allowing the E9 to retain its original air filter housing. The much simpler carburettors give improved starting and transient throttle response – so says Jack. Given that the E9 produces 180bhp at 6000rpm, it has a good level of power and performance for its age.
“I think the highlight of owning the car so far has been the opportunity for me to use it to take my brother to his wedding,” Jack recalled. “My brother lived in Chichester at the time which – about three-hours away from me in Ipswich, the journey down was its first proper post-restoration outing. It had been to a couple of local shows but never on dual carriageways or motorways. The drive went well with no major problems, the car was given a final clean before being adorned with the requisite white ribbon, and chauffeuring my brother to the church in utmost style!” As Jack admits, he knows every square inch of the E9, sometimes that level of familiarity can spoil the driving experience of a classic car. Not so in this case:
“Sitting in an E9 is like sitting in a greenhouse – there is glass everywhere. This is particularly useful when you only have one door mirror and so need good visibility on the left side when changing lanes. But my favourite aspect of the car has to be the style,” we’re told. “Style is everywhere on the E9. It has an elegant presence about it from wherever you view it. It is definitely the swan that emerged from the ugly duckling that was the 2000CS.
“For me personally, the E9 stands in second place in the classic BMW line up. In my view, only a 507 would tempt me into parting with my E9 – and I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon!” Jack laughed. “The E9 took the best of the pre- 1970s era cars and combined it with many of the design features that continued to be present on BMWs for decades.”
It is clear that Jack has no plans to part with this car, a decision we fully support. “For me, the E9 is to keep, I have no intention of selling it. I have never added up the number of hours of hard work that went into it, and I certainly have not added up the total cost involved. A restoration of this kind is for the love of it, even if, at times, it is infuriatingly tedious!”
Tedious or not, the time spent restoring this BMW was time very well spent indeed...
Above: The E9 was used as a wedding car for Jack’s brother – resplendent with the obligatory ribbons.
Above: The E9’s restoration was certainly not for the faint of heart, thankfully, Jack persevered...