For $4,000, Could This 1985 BMW 320i Baur Cabrio Get You To Go Topless?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Before BMW chopped the top off the E30 for reals, Karroserie Baur made some into nice framed-window targas. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Top Cabrio 2 is one of the model’s second generation, but will this Euro-spec car’s price have you second guessing the seller?

You’ve just got to love a $500 car that is described as running and drivable. I mean, that’s like finding a lobster dinner for the price of a Happy Meal or Lindsay Lohan passed out at the Playboy Club. Most of us loved the potential—even if that potential involved disassembly and selling bits part by part—afforded by last Friday’s 1988 Saab 900 turbo droptop. Yeah, it was described in its ad as rusty and potentially on its last legs, but with a healthy 78% Nice Price win, quite a few of you wouldn’t have minded getting a last leg up.


Today we’re going to shift from a rust bucket Euro convertible to a supposedly non-rusty Euro semi-convertible that’s much rarer than Friday’s Saab, and correspondingly, more expensive.


This 1985 BMW 320i is one of a select few chosen to get re-engineered by Karroserie Baur to get it roof chopped off and a tidy targa top installed in its place. This car is a TC2 (Top Cabrio 2: This Time It’s Personal) of which Baur built about 11,000. About 3,500 more were constructed in South Africa under license making these cars some of the rarest E30 models around.

The Baur conversion was factory sanctioned, however neither the coachbuilder nor BMW proper ever officially imported the cars to the U.S.. Additionally, BMW never gave us (us meaning the U.S.) a six cylinder E30 320i.


That all means this one is the greyest of grey market cars, and carries special interest plates to make its case. It’s also a grey-colored car if that sort of kismet floats your boat. Another “feature” is the 337,000 presently staring on the car’s odometer. Now, I don’t know if that’s in miles or, seeing as this is a German-spec car that Decaphobic’s nightmare, kilometers but either way it’s a lot of road. It shows too.


The paint is tired, showing significant aging on the horizontal surfaces. There’s a dent in the front fender, evidence of a minor traffic shunt, and the car has gone full-pirate as one eye has been taken out by a rock on the highway, to be replaced by a cold air intake. That’s not the choice I would have made, but then what do I know about Baur Bimmers? The ad claims there to be no rust on or under the car.


The interior is a mixed bag. The ad says that the rear bench has been recovered, and the dash looks to be in good shape. On the other hand, the front sport seats have ill-fitting covers that only make you imagine the horrors that might lie beneath. Somewhat comically, the ad notes the addition of stereo speakers in the back “for when the top’s down.” Those seem to have made an unfortunate impression on the plastic rear window of that top. It otherwise seems to seal okay, as does the hard targa section above the front seats.

This is a 320i which means it sports the 1,990-cc, 127-bhp/128 lb-ft edition of the M20, which is totally meh. A Getrag five-speed backs that up and power is channeled through an updated LSD out of a 325e. New front and rear seals, along with gaskets, a timing belt, and Guibo are pluses here. The profusion of Zip ties under the hood are potentially not.


A final sad trombone is the need for a new starter as the one in the car has apparently gone tits up. The seller says it will bump start so at least you could do the job in your own driveway as long as you live downhill from Portland—Sorry Seattleites.


Another thing the seller says is that he’s motivated to move the car. I guess not motivated enough to replace that starter, but enough so to put an ad on the Craigslist so I guess we’ll have to give him that. He has set the asking price at $4,000 and for $1,500 more he’ll throw in an E30 (U.S. spec) parts car too. We’ll stick with the Baur alone. What do you think of this rare and interesting Bimmer and that $4,000 price? Does that seem like a fair deal to drop your top? Or, is this a Baur that barely misses the mark?

You decide!


Portland OR Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to picoFarad for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.