Remember The Teuton: 1985 BMW 316 Baur TC

This is a very rare car. Both the engine and the roof treatment option were never offered in North America.

The body, however, is the classic and beloved E30 which we fortunately did get. It debuted in 1982 and lasted in some markets until 1994. The styling is brilliant. The car thoroughly improves on the E31, while still retaining core BMW themes. It's simple, but endlessly beguiling.The shape is relatively boxy, but up close each corner and edge is warmly curved like a fine gemstone. The fact that it was replaced by the totally different E36 only enchances the E30 in the eyes of fans and collectors

The 316 has a 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder SOHC piston engine that produced around 100 horsepower. This is no rocket ship. Thankfully, it's mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and powers the rear wheels. Fast? No. Sufficient, practical, and economical? Yes. Combined with the car's already demonstrable handling, the engine, tiny by today's standards, unthinkable for a BMW, is still passable. North Americans are already acquainted with the similar the 318, anyways.

To up the quaint Euro factor, this 316 featues a Baur top conversion. Baur had an extremely close relationship with BMW and other German automakers. While the conversion was still technically a custom aftermarket conversion, as it was performed after the car was made rather than during production, it was as close to a factory option as it gets, even being featured in some brochures from the era.

What differentiates the Baur from your ordinary convertible E30? A lot. The window frames and kept in place and a top cross bar is added for extra support. The canvas top peels back like a sardine can. When a car loses its roof to become a convertible, it also loses structural rigidity, causing more flexing and bending in the body. This then becomes noticeable in handling. The Baur attempts to rectify that problem with keeping some side and roof pillars intact. The result is the best of both worlds: some structural rigidity combined with the open air sensation.

Inside we have one of the best interiors from BMW. Oversized pre-airbag steering wheel, center console angled towards the driver, dark high grade plastics. And a pair of dice dangling from the rear view mirror.

The seller says this is a 1-owner car that was purchased new in Kohn, Germany before it traveled the world and then ended up in the Hamptons on Long Island in New York. If you're going to get a Baur, that's about a good a story as you might find. The seller says the car is not without some scratches but suggests it is otherwise sound, and has no rust, which is terrific. They list the odometer as reading 88,382 kilometers which converts to around 55,000 miles, very low.

The price for this wonderful slice of bratwurst? $18,990.

Find it here on ebay.


  1. The Baur TC made more sense on the 1600, 2002 and E21, where a BMW factory convertible wasn't offered. In my mind, the E30 convertible (which, if you believe Wikipedia, Baur designed for BMW) made the TC irrelevant.

    This low spec gray market 318 is quite spartan by US BMW standards, but I think that adds to it's unique appeal. On the other hand, the Euro-typical 4-cylinder engine and lack of A/C aren't as well suited to US driving conditions.

    Maybe the $19K price seems reasonable if you live in the Hamptons, but in the real world it's probably at least $8-10K off the mark. Then again, how many other low-mileage E30 Baur TC's are on offer stateside, without having to import one yourself?

    1. Sorry, I mis-typed. This is a 316, not a 318.

    2. I thought the same thing regarding price, it's weirdly justified. How many can there be? The nice thing is that most of these are now exempt from the 25-year importation rule, so if you really want one, U.S. buyers can have their pick from Europe, if they are willing to pay for it. It's still a ton of money for not that much car, though.

      I do think the TC is still relevant however because the side pillars are kept intact. There is currently no car on the market that has that. It makes the car safer and stronger. It also looks surprisingly good.