1982 BMW 323i Baur

1982 BMW 323i Baur
Memorial Day 2010 First Drive 1982 323i BMW Baur Lapisblau M20 5 speed #4154 of 4595 made. The car was imported to California by Dietel Enterprises. I have since changed the wheels, installed the clear turn signal lenses, and I am in the process of installing a new cabriolet roof. I have to do something about those bumpers, too. :) I love this car! To see one of the reasons why, check my post "Score One For the Good Guys" on 6/26/2011.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our Cincinnati Baur on Jalopnik

Well, what do you know?  The Cincinnati Baur has gotten some notice from Jalopnik.  It appears that the author, graverobber, has taken some of his info from our "Baur TC1s in the US" thread in bimmerforums!  If you click on the ASC reference in the article, it takes you right to page 3 of that thread.

However, he apparently didn't pay close enough attention to the thread info, because he got some of it wrong.  He states that most of the jobs done by ASC went to Canada:  we only know for sure of 1 job done by ASC, and that one belongs to our own rigmaster in NC.  (If the author knows of OTHER Baurs done by ASC, I would love to hear about them.)  He appears to have confused that tidbit with a later reference in the thread to a chart of 25 US Spec Baurs that BMW imported to North America, 22 of which went to Canada.  That is Jeroen's chart, also in the bimmerforums thread.  Baurspotting has actually found that a few of those "Canada" Baurs have now made their way south, and are now located in the US.

The author also shows his confusion with this comment:    "So the car's kind of weird - it looks U.S. Spec, but is claimed to rock the 323i engine and five speed, what's up with that?"  What is 'up with that' is that this Baur is a Euro grey market import which had to be 'federalized' to get registered in the US.  Hence the US diving board bumpers, the side marker lights, and probably some emissions equipment.  There is no mystery here.  Anyone familiar with grey market cars would know that.

In addition, the author fails to take into any account the extreme rarity of the Baur.  Baurspotting has found about 80 E21 Baurs so far in the entire US.  We have unconfirmed reports of about 20 more, some of which may be duplicate sightings of Baurs we already know.  This has happened a lot.  There are undoubtedly some more that we havent found yet.  But there is a strong likelihood that we have plucked all, or almost all, of the 'low-hanging fruit', and that most of what remains to be found is secreted away in barns, garages or other storage facilities that will be exceedingly difficult to find.  Baurs are a rare bird, indeed.

I was further disappointed that the author had no sense of the historical perspective and the role that the E21 Baur played in that.  Without that historical perspective, one can completely miss the reason behind the unusual design of the Baur, as this author did.  There is a reason that the Baur has a "Top Cabriolet' design, just as there is a reason that it is called a "Top Cabriolet' and not a Targa.    The BMW Baur Top Cabriolets were built in response to the fact that most car manufacturers were expecting that convertibles were going to be outlawed for safety reasons (primarily rollover danger) in most countries.  The manufacturers therefore stopped building convertibles.  The last American convertible in that era (late 70's, early 80's) was the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado.  Try finding a late 70's or early 80's convertible.  They are very few and far between.  

Baur, a coach builder founded in 1910, had been building convertibles for BMW since the 1930's, including the 1600 convertibles, and the 2002 Targa Convertibles.  Baur built 4595 E21 Baurs between 1976 and 1982.  One of the most striking features of the E21 Baur design is the roll bar between the front 'targa' top and the rear folding soft top.  That roll bar is present in response to, and because of, the safety concerns in rollover accidents: a product of the prevailing safety sentiments of the times.  It is not there just by coincidence, or because someone thought that it would look cool!   It was there for a very definite reason.  Also, the reason it is called a "Top Cabriolet' is because Porsche owns the rights to use the term "Targa", so Baur had to come up with an alternative.

Much of the above perhaps means nothing to many readers of Jalopnik's 'Nice Price or the Crack Pipe' column.  As one of the readers commented, you can go out and buy a nice E36 'real' convertible for half the price... and I agree.  And you can also go further, and, if all you want is a convertible, buy a Chevy Cavalier or that Dodge convertible for probably half of THAT price.   

That is not the person that is going to buy this car.  This is a rare, unique and historically important automobile.  And it is a blast to drive!  Did I mention that?   The E21 also the car that gave the BMW Three Series its Name!  And, while it has not reached Collector Status yet, and although it does not rival its iconic brethren, the 2002 and the E30, in price yet, it's Day is Coming.  With the sharp design lines of the E21, the spirited drivability of the M20 engine, the historical significance of the Top Cabriolet design, the absolute scarcity of numbers..... this is the very definition of Collector status.   Sadly, graverobber from Jalopnik has no clue about any of this, and his article reflects that.  It is not his fault.  He doesn't read Baurspotting enough.       :)

The BMW Baur is destined for greatness.  You heard it here first, folks.


P.S.  If graverobber had called the seller, he would have learned that this Baur also has the much-sought after 'dogleg transmission', and that it may also have been owned by a national celebrity (unproven so far).  But you smart readers of Baurspotting could have told him that, too, because Baurspotting is all over that case!  


OK, now here is the Jalopnik article.  

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