In the late 1960s and early 1970s, long before BMW became a mass-luxury brand name, the marque was known for building sporting cars that combined Bavarian frugality, solid German engineering and—if one squints one’s eyes and imagines—sober, attractive style. The automaker had shed its reputation for lavish antiquated barges like the model 502 “Baroque Angel” and the money-losing 507 sports car, and embarked on a new mission.
Pivotal to the change in direction was the 1600 and 2002 series (an altogether longer and most interesting story). But BMW customers had a taste for sporting luxury that would never be sated by the boxy ’02 and, by the way, BMW had a perfectly delightful inline-six engine with which to power a more substantial car. The most beautiful by far was the 3.0 series E9, which began as a 2.8-liter version with the 1968 2800 CS. The later 3.0 CS, introduced