1985 BMW 323i Baur TC2: A Small Update
A long time ago in a state far, far away, I was part of an interesting band of lovable whackos called the Senior Six Registry. Alternately known as the Bavaria Liberation Army, we focused solely on BMW’s E3 sedans – they’re not a series – built from 1968 to 1977. The “New Six” (Bavaria, 2800, 3.0S, etc.) is the attractive, stronger, and better-handling sister to BMW’s unfortunate but strangely more popular E9 coupe.
While I no longer own an E3, I think I’m still technically part of the SSR. Why? Same reason you’re never an ex-Marine and you can never check out of the Hotel California. Back then, I was part of a small offshoot – some might say “coterie” – called the Left Coast Doctors. None of us had a medical degree, and though we considered ourselves highly intelligent I don’t recall anyone having an actual doctorate.
That said, pearls of wisdom would occasionally sublimate to the surface. One was coined by our old friend Scott the rocket camera scientist in the late-1990s: “If you drive a 20-year-old BMW, you’re poor. If you drive a 30-year-old BMW, you’re stupid, too.” Remember, this was during the first dotcom boom when everyone with a credit card and juicy stock options had a new baby Bimmer. More salient, however, was this nugget: “Coupes are our parts cars.”
We even had t-shirts made.
I’ve finally gotten around to ordering personalized Collector license plates for our 1985 BMW 323i Baur TC2 (E30). A local fellow once said that in Minnesota, due to cost and availability, there is no reason to not have personalized Collector plates on your old car. Due to the one-time cost of around $100, no annual renewal, and wide language availability, I can’t say he’s wrong.
Fittingly, I’ve chosen “BAURS” since we technically have two: the 1985 BMW and the 2010 kiddo, who is also named Baur. Hey, if you can give a car a people name, you can also give a person a car name. Trust me: I’m a doctor.
The TC2 is a German-market car that was brought over early in its life. When it was federalized – that is, brought into compliance with U.S.-market rules for structural reinforcements and emissions – the car received a rear license bracket that looks to have been made from scrap construction material. The mounts on the body itself are clearly positioned for a German plate bracket but they don’t match anything on this side of the Atlantic.
Remembering my Tao of Senior Six – everything can be my parts car – I turned to RealOEM.com. The area in question on the back of our E30 is configured quite closely to that of our 2001 BMW 330i (E46).
Side note: One of these days I really need to let you know about the 330i and how it came to replace the 1995 BMW M3.
The trunk lid of the E46 seems to be a worldwide part in that the holes for the plate bracket are in the middle of the panel, positioned just like the Euro E30. Would an E46 bracket work on an Euro E30?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: It fits perfectly. Perhaps not surprising, the holes for the E46 bracket line up on the E30 body like someone actually thought about it. The bracket itself sits evenly within the horizontal space between the tail lights and vertically between the bumper and trunk threshold. I ordered a factory bracket as opposed to a knock-off from Amazon, one of many reasons why I will never be wealthy.
At the same time, I replaced the plastic grommets in the body where the screws hold the bracket to the car. One grommet was stripped. As far as I know you cannot get the original white grommets; black only. Those are what I had to use on the front bumper when I replaced the chrome center section a few years back. I also cleaned and straightened the “Competition and Sports Cars, Limited” license plate frame, which has only graced two of our cars in 30 years.
I have no doubt there are myriad U.S.-based Euro E30 owners sitting there right now saying, “Well, duh. How did you not know that?” I have no excuses.
But I do have some nice new Coco Mats. And, if possible, a slightly more identifiable 323i.
Thanks for the shout-out. Terrifying that those 30yo E3’s are now 50yo E3’s. WTHH? And “Trust me. I’m a doctor”. Where have I heard that before? Still love the license plate frame!