Writing and Photography by Riley Koidahl.
Ok, so it wasn't exactly a "barn find," but "transmission shop find" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. This jewel of a BMW was dropped off for a transmission rebuild when the owner moved to Alaska and simply abandoned his car at the mechanic. The project stalled, and the car was left in the back corner of the shop for years.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and I see a nondescript ad online for a "gray 1967 BMW project" with no pictures. These type of ads typically go one of two ways: 1) the car is a scrapheap and photos would dissuade any potential buyers, or 2) the car is a potential gold mine just waiting to be discovered. I preferred to imagine the latter.
When I first laid my eyes on the car, it was a sad sight. Years of moss had created new, organic window seals, the floors had pooled with water, and the transmission was sitting off to the side of the car, meaning it wouldn't run without some serious TLC. After digging a little deeper, however, the car's potential was apparent.
The Neue Klasse, or NK, 4-door sedans were built from 1962-1972, with a facelift occurring in 1967. As seen on this car, 1967 was the first year of the late NK cars with wider, horizontal taillights and quad headlights (rectangular in Europe). While the facelifted cars received these late-model design elements, the 67s retained some early touches, like the prettier wood dash and a unique trunk-mounted "2000" badge, only seen on 67 cars.
Under its mossy shell, everything was surprisingly original; the factory hubcaps, steering wheel, rare red interior, and numbers-matching motor were all intact. The color combination - Bristol grey with oxblood interior - is the one of the most iconic pairings in BMW history. The infamous 1800Ti/SA solidified BMW's racing pedigree in the same colors (photos below).
After six months of negotiation, the shop rebuilt and reinstalled the transmission, and I finally brought her home. Before tearing into the car, I had to photograph the years of mossy patina, as documented here.
The plan for this car is simple: sort out the mechanicals and make it a nice driver, but leave the cosmetics as-is. A car can only be original once, and in its current state, the "barn find" cosmetics are quite charming.