Three E9 Drivers Share a Love for One Amazing Car
Three different owners, three different stories, one shared passion for a great BMW—the amazing E9. Universally regarded as one of the finest GT coupes ever built, E9s offer unmatched style, grace, comfort, and performance in one incredibly alluring shape. We questioned three lucky owners about their cars, compiled their thoughtful answers, and shared the very best below—we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed speaking with them.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your E9 and what makes it so special?
Chris Macha: Well I bought it about eight years ago, sight unseen, off of eBay. The listing had about 65 pics or so, and it looked pretty good in them. I had it shipped down here to my home from up in the Bay Area, which is where I believe it spent most of its time, apart from a few years in Seattle. The day it arrived was rainy, as California was having a really wet year with record rainfall, and it wouldn’t start! The guy who drove the truck that towed the trailer it was on swore to me it had started just fine the day before when he picked it up, though.
I got it into my garage and it just wasn’t the car I had been expecting, it was a muddy brown, with yellow-ish MBTex vinyl interior, it just hadn’t been taken very good care of and was pretty tired. I didn’t want to get into a restoration, as I had just sold a 230SL I had restored a few years earlier, but I was kind of forced into it. I did most of the mechanical work myself, and the first thing I did was swap out the auto for a five speed, then worked on the brakes, suspension, all that stuff—I had the head off the motor at one point and decided as long as I was in there I might as well really get the engine bay nice and clean, so when you open the hood people just go “wow!”, it’s really nice. All the heavy-lifting, though, was done by the Coupe King, a really nice guy with a ton of expertise—he did the paint, interior, all the trim work, that kind of stuff, and it turned out just beautifully.
It’s a ’73, so its fitted with these weird little 2.5 MPH bumpers that are a little bit longer than the Euros but quite a bit smaller than the 5 MPH items, and they look like they’re installed upside down, too. I’m a real originality freak, and besides removing the side-marker lights everything is as it would’ve been new. It’s just a matter of getting it clean, and then keeping it clean.
Q: How does it get under your skin?
Chris Macha: Well it’s just a pleasure to drive, a true GT. I love to just get in it and drive it and enjoy it, something I do quite a bit of, as I put about 5,000 miles a year on it. I take it out to Cars & Coffee in Irvine most Saturday mornings, and have had quite a bit of success at various concours, too, especially the BMWCCA events held in Carmel, where I’ve had the good luck of winning several years in a row. I’m taking it out to BMW’s Oktoberfest event and entering it in their concours this year, too, but I’ve heard they’re quite a bit more rigorous with their scoring—BMWCCA’s events are more just like a friendly, “clean car” competition, so we’ll see how I do. I’m planning on retiring it from the concours circuit afterwards, but will continue to display it. I won’t ever get rid of it, I just don’t see what can replace it—a lot of guys say that, but I mean it.
Q: Describe your car for us, please.
Tom Rakestraw: It’s a ’73 CSL originally purchased in Italy by a US Air Force pilot stationed in Verona, and came to the states sometime in 1996. I use it primarily for weekend getaways and the occasional spirited drive. I enjoy taking it to the Monterrey Historics, the drive is incredibly scenic and a lot of fun with maybe another dozen or so classics in convoy.
Q: What attracted you to it?
Tom Rakestraw: I’m an architect, and as someone in the design profession it touches a lot of the right buttons. It’s just so elegant, with an amazing quality of construction and engineering, so much of it was hand assembled. There are chrome-plated brass and nickel alloys everywhere, it just oozes integrity. It drives superbly, with a decent if not tremendous amount of power, though it’s plenty quick and handles very well due to its lightweight—something like several hundred pounds lighter than a standard 3.0 CS. It’s not at all hard to get the rear to break loose, but it has such great road feel it’s a pleasure to tossa around. Everywhere it goes it gets so much attention, and all of it positive—people just want to know what it is, and if they know, they just want to chat about it.
Q: What’s the story of your E9?
Mark Judy: It’s a Baikal Blue ’73, incidentally built the same month as Chris’ car—they’re brother and sister. I had been looking for an E9 for quite a while, and would often almost buy one and then back out. One day I was down in La Jolla and saw my car at a consignment dealer, I really liked it, it was very clean, but following a pattern didn’t buy it. My wife finally tired of this game and unbeknownst to me bought it and had it shipped to a local Irvine shop, which she had me go to in order to ostensibly see another coupe—when I got there it was up on a lift and it was just like “aaaaah!”. So yeah, a really lovely and thoughtful gift from my wife.
That was in 1990, and for about four or five years it was my daily driver, but it was put away for a while and saw a lot less use while we were busy raising kids and taking care of other things, and about five years ago I started going through it mechanically in order to get it road-worthy again, and also recently had the front seats reupholstered. The paint is the original color, but is a respray dating back to ’85 or so—they did a very good job.
I’d always wanted one, as I had a 2002 back in college, but the E9 was always the ultimate goal. I’ve had 3, 5, and 7 series BMWs, but the E9 is the one that I’ll always keep.
Q: You’ve got a full tank of gas and a free day, where do you go?
Mark Juday: I love to get up at about 6:30 in the morning on Sundays and head out to Laguna Beach via Laguna Canyon, then turn north along the coast towards Newport. It’s a beautiful, relaxing drive through mountains, hills, and along the beach, and you’re out there early enough that it’s not crowded and full of crazy drivers—just other guys enjoying cool cars and waving to each other. It’s a great opportunity to put on some good music, open the sunroof, kick back and enjoy the drive.
Q: Specifically, why do you love it?
Mark Juday: The smell—it’s very distinctive. The leather just smells nice. The interior is very special; it’s very simple, but the colors and materials are wonderful—I love the French walnut veneers they used. It’s not a powerhouse or quiet like a Lexus, but it sounds wonderful and handles really well, especially with the Bilsteins and thicker torsion bars mine has. It’s got zero blindspots, and when I open the sunroof and roll down all the windows it’s like a convertible. It stimulates all my senses, and it’s just a rejuvenating experience—a long, hard week just kind of disappears after a nice drive.
Photography by Afshin Behnia