Automakers are beginning to shy away from traditional two-door, four-seat coupes, as customers are beginning to prioritize space and comfort over style. It’s why so many Gran Coupe/Sportback/four-door coupe models are becoming so popular. Incoming electrification will only exacerbate the issue, turning coupes more and more into things of the past. With that said, let’s take a look back at some of the best coupes in BMW’s history.
In the spirit of proper coupes, though, let’s stick with the traditional formula; front-engine, two-door, rear-wheel drive. As cool as cars like the BMW M1 and i8 are, they’re mid-engine supercar-types. We’re talking proper coupés, here. There are countless classic coupes from Bavaria, dating back to the 1930s, which makes it hard to choose one or even a few. But I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so let’s give it a shot.
E9 BMW 3.0 CS
The E9 chassis underpinned some of the best BMW coupes of all time, including the iconic 3.0 CSL, which became a legend both on road and on track. However, I chose the more normal road-going version, the BMW 3.0 CS, as it was a bit more handsome to my eye and a bit more relaxed. The 3.0 CS was more of a pretty GT car, rather than a homologated race car, which I think fits its style a bit better. Plus, it’s one of the prettiest coupes of all time, with delicate pillars, a long hood running out to a shark-nose grille, the curved rear window, short rear deck, and, if equipped, ALPINA wheels.
Powering the BMW 3.0 CS was a BMW M30 engine, which was a 3.0 liter naturally-aspirated inline-six that made just over 200 horsepower but was silky smooth and made a great noise. It was paired with a four-speed manual transmission and powered only the rear wheels. If I could have any classic BMW coupe, it might just be the BMW 3.0 CS, as it was and still is one of the best looking BMWs of all time.
E92 BMW 3 Series
I originally wanted to go with the BMW 2002 here, because it is truly the defining vehicle in BMW’s history but I didn’t want to go with two cars that old, so I went with something more modern. Up until maybe a few months ago, I would have chosen the E46 3 Series but, for some reason, the E92 3 Series Coupe has grown on me so much that I think it’s one of BMW’s best two-door designs of all time. It gets better with age each and every year and is my favorite 3 Series design. It’s so simple and elegant, yet perfectly proportioned. It’s also the last truly pretty 3 Series/4 Series, in my eyes.
But the E92 is more than just a pretty face. It’s modern enough to still look and feel fresh but old-school enough to still have that proper BMW feel. Hydraulic steering can be found on many E92 3 Series models, which is far better than the electric power steering units on modern Bimmers. It also has one very important 3 Series trait — even entry-level models feel special. Creamy inline-sixes, balanced chassis, and supple suspensions make most E92 3ers feel like they’re a cut or two above the competition.
Those are my two favorite BMW coupes at the moment (though, being as psychotic as I am, they’ll probably change the moment I click “Publish”). The traditional coupe is a dying breed so we should appreciate that BMW gave us so many good ones. Which ones are your favorite?