1973 BMW 3.0 CS / E9 Coupe

This owner bleeds BMW Motorsports colors.

This Bavarian auto manufacturer has always been an integral part of this SoCal native’s life.  Most members of his family drove BMWs.  He studied design at Art Center and ended up working for BMW.  He has probably owned 100 BMWs and seems to always have a dozen in his stable.  So, when he started this build nearly a decade ago, why did I question it?

I watched this monumental restoration throughout the process.  It took 5 long hard years to see his vision through.  For the longest time, I didn’t understand his design decisions.  I would ask why he didn’t choose this color or that engine.  He never wavered from his course.  In his mind, he had a clear vision of building a sophisticated version of the legendary BMW 3.0 CS.  He wanted the build to endure just as the design of this car has for the past 5 decades.

There have been many good examples built in the past.  However, to me this is simply the best.

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360HP / 273Lb Ft Tq / S54 E46 M3 Drivetrain

6-Speed Manual / Modern Air Conditioning

Bare Metal Complete Restoration

Petrolicious and Stanceworks Features

Bimmer Magazine Feature

Stock #1129

VIN #2224xxxx**

10,100 Miles on Full Build/Restoration

  • Chamonix White on CSL Black Corduroy Interior
  • 6-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Clean and Clear California Title
  • BMWCCA Member Owner


BMW’s CS/E9 line was produced from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s.  Production numbers were limited and prices were very high.  These were exclusive cars to own.  However, time has generally not been kind to these cars.  The bodies were built at the Karmann factory and prone to rust.  If that didn’t destroy them, expensive and limited parts in the earlier years made them prohibitive to maintain properly.  Plus, the U.S. only received a small number of those produced.  The restoration costs are expensive when done right.  However, the stock models were generally less inspiring to drive with less than adequate gearboxes and generally underpowered.

This E9 lived the majority of its life in Northern California.  It was originally delivered new as an Agave Green 3.0CS with tan leather.  The first owner kept the car for 8-years and used it as a daily driver.  It was sold to a Mr. Jack Meltesen of Mill Valley, California on October 6th, 1981 with 94k-miles.  Meltesen kept this BMW for 30-years.  Most of the service was with Bill Arnold BMW Repair in San Rafael, California.  The current owner found this BMW in 2011.  He had been looking for a decent straight and dry survivor for many years.  He felt that this would be a good start for a special project.

This example was the brainchild of a long time BMW enthusiast who wanted to build a high quality example in the vein of what Singer does with 911s.  He wanted all the beautiful looks of the original design, but with modern performance, capabilities and comfort.  The goal was to build something that could easily be driven daily as well as on long distance vintage touring events while preserving the classic original design.  He employed some of the most talented specialists in the industry to help him achieve this dream.

The current owner flew up to Northern California, jump started the car, paid for it, and drove it back to Southern California to begin the build.  He delivered it to Jeff Tighe, a long time SoCal vintage BMW specialist who trained under the expert eye of Carl Nelson at La Jolla Independent.  Tighe began work on this restoration and managed the project.  Towards the end, Chris Castro came on board to help with the final bits and sorting.  Highlights of the build include:

Disassemble and catalog parts

Paint and body by John Esposito

  •             Strip to bare metal
  •             Repair any rust areas
  •             Make the gaps uniform with proper shut lines
  •             Prep body for paint
  •             Glasurit paint

Drivetrain preparation by Jeff Tighe

Sourced from 2001 BMW M3 with 94k-miles

Drivetrain removed and fully inspected by Bullet Performance and Tighe

  • S54 3.2L straight engine
  •             Replaced rod bearings
  •             Vanos rebuilt
  •             Cam bolts
  •             Valves adjusted and shimmed
  •             High pressure oil system
  •             Routine inspections and preventative maintenance
  • Getrag 6-speed transmission
  • Custom fit to chassis
  • Reprogram S54 DME to Euro E46 CSL specifications by RK Tunes
  • Dyno results 360 (DIN) HP @ 7,900 rpm / 273 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
  • Rebuilt S54 driveshaft
  • S54 headers and custom stainless exhaust system by Castro Motorsport
  • Engine wiring harness from Euro M Coupe
  • Reinforcements for differential mounts
  • High performance aluminum radiator
  • Castro Motorsport custom intake system

Interior upholstery by Juan Ortiz

  • Refinished factory wood trim using real Italian walnut in satin finish
  • Woodwork done by old Italian cabinet maker
  •             Rebuild CSL Scheel-style sport bucket seats using leather and corduroy
  •             911 hood shocks for tilting seat mechanism
  •             CSL center console
  •             CSL steering wheel
  •             New black headliner and visors
  •             Refinished door panels using CSL parts
  •             Square weave carpet
  •             Custom Cocomats
  •             Side inlet grills customized as rear speaker grille
  •             CSL package tray

Other Interior details

Restore all gauges

Custom speedometer to work off of GPS

Custom tachometer to work off of digital signal

New electric window motors

Rewired hidden “M-Mode” button and light

Bluetooth stereo

Custom fabricated air conditioning unit mounted in trunk (rear blowing)

New heater core and rebuilt heater system

Exterior details

Custom fit E34 Ellipsoid headlights

Custom CSL vinyl graphics

All new rubber and seals
Factory badging

All trim and glass replaced or restored

Custom/rare WEDS Bavaria 3-piece 16” wheels


Custom Bilstein coil over suspension system

CSL sport springs

Modified Ireland Engineering sway bars

Custom Brembo big brake kit from E46 CSL

Powdercoated all suspension parts

All new suspension parts and bushings

Camber plates

For the last 5-years/10k-miles, the owner enjoyed driving this BMW on various vintage touring events as well as around the Los Angeles area.  Fine tuning and service support was provided by both Tighe and Castro.  Highlights of routine services include:

Regular oil services and fluid flushes

Replaced fuel injectors

New fuel pump, filter, and pressure regulator

New Starter

Fresh Hankook Vetus tires (225/50-16)

Fresh clutch

Rebuilt Vanos system and valve adjustment

Shortly after finishing this build, some of the top automotive media outlets approached the owner to feature his CSL.  Sure there have been plenty of modern engine swapped builds that have happened over the years.  In fact, Alpina based their business on this philosophy.  So why this build?  The elegant restraint used to capture the essence of the design while giving it a cohesive upgrade that works was the inspiration for this project.  The execution subtly showcases the classic Italian designed body while cleanly integrated the upgrades in a very minimalistic approach.  Once completed, features included Bimmer Magazine and Petrolicious.  However, the best article came from Mike Burroughs of Stanceworks.  He really captured the essence of this idea:


The exterior of the car is exquisite.  It doesn’t scream, “look at me,” but rather just looks confidently classy.  When the project started, I wasn’t quite onboard with the choice of Chamonix for the exterior.  However, I really get it now.  It fits the gentleman sleeper style.  The paint looks fantastic and shows very light wear.  There are a few minor chips on the front from use.  However, they are barely noticeable as they’ve been expertly touched up.  The gaps and shut lines are insanely good.  These cars never had body panels that fit this well.  The glass fits nicely and all the rubber is new.  All the exterior lights work properly.  The wheels have no curb rash or other blemishes and are wearing near new/full tread tires.  An extra set of Alpina wheels (for a different look – see photos) are available for an additional fee.  The ride height/stance is spot on as it has an aggressive look, but not too low.  The simple and clean bumpers fit nicely and all the chrome work sparkles.

The interior is equally as nice and looks barely used.  The owner secured a complete rare factory CSL interior to help create a blend of old and new inside the cabin.  Juan Ortiz is the upholstery maestro and worked his magic to make the interior look original and correct.  The factory CSL Scheel buckets are wrapped in leather with corduroy inserts.  They show no signs of use.  The rear seats have the same finish and also look fresh.  Hood grills were incorporated on the parcel shelf to hide what looks like speaker grills, but is actually the A/C vents.  The squareweave Porsche 356 carpet is one of the best Germany vintage carpets around and looks perfect with the rest of the interior.  The CSL door panels fit nicely and show no wear.  The dash has no cracks or warping.  All of the gauges work properly.  All of the power windows also work.  The “M” button is hidden with an activation light behind the speaker grill.  The satin finish on the Italian Walnut wood trim provides a warm accent to the monochromatic interior.  There is a hidden Bluetooth system that plays off of any media player.  The A/C system switch is also hidden under the dash and quickly cools off this very open greenhouse.  The interior is such a nice place to be for hours on end.

Of course, the driving experience is insane.  When you crank the key and the engine barks to life, there’s no smoking and the car purrs at an even idle.  As you depress the throttle, it’s almost like Clark Kent is ripping his clothes off and transforming into the man of steel.  The car lurches to life with cat-like speed.  The power makes you giggle uncontrollably.  It gobbles pavement and the scenery quickly becomes a blur.  Fortunately, the massive calipers easily harness this power and scrub speed at an alarming rate.  The transmission shifts like butter with a confidence inspiring “click” as each gear is selected.  There is no slipping, hesitation, or grinding.  Thankfully, the CSL upgraded suspension makes this E9 feel considerably smaller than it is.  The handling is nicely balanced to the power with just the right amount of power steering boost in tight spaces, while providing some steering weight as speed is applied.  There is tons of grip when you need it, or simply mash the throttle and you can have your own drift party.

I can usually find fault with everything, but this E9 is perfect as-is to me.  It’s sorted, serviced, and ready for any adventure.

California registration is current to July of 2020 and it is exempt from California’s smog test.

This BMW comes with original owner’s manuals, original tool kit, jack, spare tire, documentation of build, magazine feature copy, records going back to 1981,

*Available for an additional fee are set of Alpina wheels

**Note: VIN and other numbers withheld to protect against fraud.  All numbers including VIN, Engine, and color will be provided to serious buyers.

1973 BMW 3.0 CS/CSL Tribute S54 6-Speed

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Paul at 714-335-4911 or paul@autokennel.com

This vehicle is sold “as-is” with no warranty, written or implied. In some cases, the vehicle does have the remaining factory warranty still in place and will be described above if that is the case. All taxes and fees are the responsibility of the buyer and are not included in the listed price. All vehicle sales will require a $170 administration fee. The vehicle listed is described to the best of our ability. The information is based on our own research and statements made to us by the previous owner(s). To the best of our knowledge, the above information is accurate. We are not responsible for errors in our description of options or any other details. The above-mentioned vehicle is used and can be expected to show some wear and tear. It is not a brand new vehicle. We do welcome all local pre-purchase inspections on vehicles in order to verify condition.

Special Note

We appreciate the countless calls from brokers and dealers. As much as we would love to quickly “wholesale” this car to industry partners so they can make a quick profit, the car is on consignment (as are all of our offerings) and the owners have the final say.

If you have actually taken the time to read this far in our detailed description, I can’t imagine there are any questions you may have. However, if there is something I missed or you would prefer to hear the warm sound of a human voice (mine) reiterating the research I’ve provided above, I would be happy to help.

If you put our company name in Google (AutoKennel®) you will see that we have been a long-time part of the Porsche community and have worked extremely hard to earn the positive reputation you will find. Feel free to reach out to our local PCA chapter (www.pcaocr.org) and the board members are familiar with us. Most in the club have known us for most of our 25-year membership involvement. Of course, if you would like more references, you will find countless testimonials on our website as well.

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