Stunning 1971 BMW 3.5CSi E9
The original BMW E9 was a highly successful and stunning coupe designed in the late 60’s and achieving sales of over 30,000 during its 9-year production. Paul’s BMW E9 that you see in pictures here, can only be described as being in ‘like new’ condition, restored and upgraded to the highest quality – however it certainly didn’t start out like this for him.
Some history first – the E9 coupe was first manufactured in 1968 with a 9-year production run. Whilst there were a few different models, all housed the BMW straight 6-cylinder engine with capacities ranging from 2.8 litre to 3 litre. As a 3 litre there were the standard CS and also CSL homologation versions, universally known as the ‘Batmobile’ due to its unique aerodynamic panels. The bodies were built by Karmann, a German coachbuilder who at the time built many of the bodies for BMW, Audi and VW, and best known for their highly successful 20 year build of the VW Karmann Ghia. From the Karmann factory in Osnabruck, West Germany, the BMW E9 complete built bodies were then returned to BMW for fitting of the engine, drivetrain and final components.
Paul’s car started out life as a 1971 3.0 CS automatic in Silver, originally sold in Germany then on sold and imported into California at the beginning of the 80’s. In about 1983 the car had its engine replaced, for reasons unknown, and the car was resprayed in Fjord Blue. The car was purchased and imported into Canberra being owned by a prominent member of Canberra’s BMW car club. Paul purchased the car in 2017 and knowing full well it was in need of some work and had some visible rust to be dealt with.
After further investigation, Paul discovered the visible rust was hiding further layers of rust and at that point Paul hatched his full rebuild Restomod plans. First step was to pull the car apart, getting down to the inner panels that needed the rust repairs. Tongue in cheek, Paul tells me the German coach builder, Karmann’s name translates to ‘Invented Rust’. There is nothing special about Pauls’ car, they literally all disintegrate slowly from the inside out.
‘Dealt with’ in Paul’s car context meant first disassembling the car in his garage, meticulously recording and storing the removed parts. The stripped car was then sent to the sand blasters to finally uncover the extent of the rust damage, so the major works could begin. Paul tells me that the 797 hours – a sadly specific number of metal work, including a variety of rust treatments and panel fabrications to mudguards, the firewall and floor pan, to then rebuild and finally create a better than original result. From there the car was put on a rotisserie, undercoated and sprayed with multiple coats of colour and clear.
The fabrication and rust repairs were carried out by Mofo Fabrications and after the final respray by Final Touch Autos, the result is spectacular. During the fabrication work, which took the best part of a year, Paul sourced a new engine and gearbox to repower his E9. A more modern E24 BMW 635CSi M30 B34 engine and 5 speed Getrag gearbox were located at a local wreckers and the work began on the powertrain.
The engine was fully rebuilt with numerous performance parts and further upgraded with an aftermarket ECU controlling all aspects of the engine management. New wheels, shocks and rubbers all around, the entire running gear now all replaced. The next step was for a completely new interior, sound deadening was added to all of the metal surfaces and new carpets went in. The four seats were trimmed in Tan German Nappa, woodgrain dash restored, central locking and other modern conveniences added. I ask Paul about the performance when compared to the car as when he originally purchased it, ‘The E9 is much lighter than the 635 that the new engine came from, the car rides better and, oh yeah, it has significantly better acceleration!’
Paul’s E9 took the best part of 2 ½ years to complete with virtually every part of the car being restored or upgraded to some extent. The car was sprayed in a stunning aqua colour known as Turkis Metallic which was actually a rare but original paint colour for some E9’s. Looking into the engine bay, it’s a work of art, the engine intake and exhaust parts all ceramic coated, the bay is just immaculate. The exhaust continues below the car, and unusually, exits on the left and right side of the car just behind the rear wheels – combined with a lower than original stance gives this E9 a very purposeful look.
Completing the walk around the E9 it looks as new, though better in every way than when it left the factory. It literally takes your breath away when the garage door goes up and natural light floods onto the deep coloured surface. Seen for the first time, this unusual colour just works, matching the flowing lines of the body and the bright chrome-work beautifully. This E9 is a true ‘Restomod’ in every sense of the word and Paul, rightly so, is one very proud owner.
RIGHT: Tan German Nappa interior and the restored woodgrain dash. A cheeky nod to the increased engine displacement on the rear bootlid.
ABOVE & BELOW: A glimpse of the re-trimmed Tan German Nappa interior. A more modern BMW 635CSi B34 engine is now the heart of this stunning BMW E9.
RIGHT: Back when a BMW kidney grille was only 2% of the car.
RIGHT: Sitting pretty in Turkis Metallic — a rare but original paint colour for some E9’s.