Exit Strategy

Original owner meets new owner

Within any endeavor, there is an end point. Every race has its finish line. There is a beginning, and there is an end. For a fortunate few, however, that end comes after you've enjoyed the experience to its absolute fullest. If at some point you are able to say you extracted the maximum amount of fulfillment and pure enjoyment possible, then you, my friend, have reached that finish line.

I recently had the privilege of participating in a moment like this when a close friend sold his gorgeous black 1973 BMW 3.0CS. For 43 years, my friend doted on this very special vehicle while living in—of all places—Manhattan. That's over four decades of fighting potholes, taxicabs, careless parking attendants and sadistic meter maids, not to mention four decades of battling the dreaded tin worm, finicky Zenith carburetors, a twisty Karmann body that was never anything close to rigid, and a parts network that is notoriously unreliable. To make matters worse, his pristine car is black, so it has a tendency to show scratches, swirl marks and even dust. And let's not even start on the price of parking a car each month in the concrete jungle. This car is a testament to human (and financial) wherewithal and sheer endurance.
1 of 8 roundels on the E9

Anyone who appreciates cars and lives around Murray Hill knows this car, its striking black coat of Glasurit paint, and its trademark Nardi steering wheel. For 43 years, it's been out and about, proudly parked in front of cafes and roaring down the road with the characteristic sound of that BMW straight-six mated to a pair of Webers.

Surely there are just a handful of original-owner BMW E9s out there at this point. This begs the question of why original owners matter. Original owners were long on something when it made no financial sense. Original owners did the math, but decided to invest time and money in an old car because it mattered to them. Nature pushed in the form of wear and tear, and they pushed right back. It's an emotional decision that defies logic, and that's exactly what you want in a collector car.

I'm not the owner of this car, but I know it as well as I know any car. I would go so far as to say I have literally polished, massaged and caressed every inch of its sheet metal, glass and leather. I know its every contour because back when I had a 1973 3.0CS (1994-2004) and lived in the same neighborhood, my friend and I would stay up until all hours washing and polishing our cars together.

The zenith of BMW 60s design
We were two enthusiasts living in the City blissfully unaware of exactly when we would reach that finish line. For me, it came after 10 years and 65K glorious miles of ownership. I sold it and used the proceeds to fund my second 280SL, the Grey Mare.

43 years of spare parts
For my friend, the finish line came 12 years later. In a phone call, he casually mentioned in passing to me that he was considering selling because he now seldom drives it. One thing led to another, and I made a phone call to a BMW enthusiast friend that resulted in a very private, very discreet sale without any of the usual back-and-forth of a transaction like this. The new owner is thrilled to have found a rare black original-owner BMW E9 with chrome bumpers, a 4-speed, air conditioning, and an electric sunroof. A rare find, indeed.

As for my friend, he is at peace with the sale. That's the thing about finish lines. After 43 years in the race, you recognize one when you see it.