The Bizarre Baur TC4 BMW E36 3 Series

Baur has been making BMW Convertibles since the 1930s, the TC4 however, might just be their weirdest creation.

From the 1970s onwards, Baur shifted to making ‘targa’ type convertibles, which provided increased safety over a typical convertible by retaining full door frames and a roll-over hoop.

In E30 3 Series form in particular, the Baur convertible proved a popular model – until BMW developed an in house convertible of a traditional style.

When the E36 arrived therefore and the convertible version was developed relatively quickly (in fact, BMW kept the E30 Convertible on sale parallel to the rest of the E36 range, so a convertible was always on offer), Baur was struggling to find demand for a ‘Baur conversion’.

Baur’s solution seems to have been the TC4, a full four-door convertible. A bodyshape that had not been seen in Europe for decades and had been abandoned even by the Americans, such was the difficulty of creating a safe and rigid body.

Baur’s Targa set-up, however, negated much of the problems posed by a four door convertible. The central roll hoop protected rear passengers in the event of a crash and, as well as the door and windscreen frames all, provided satisfactory levels of chassis rigidity.

This allowed Baur to offer a completely unique experience to customers, with all the appeal of a convertible, with the practicality of a four door saloon.

Despite this unique proposition, relatively few took up Baur’s offer. Just a reported 321 conversions were made, all on a aftermarket basis. You had to take your E36 Saloon to Baur for them to convert it for you.

However, these rarities do occasionally come up for sale. This 318i TC4 is up for sale in Tampa, Florida and thought to be the only one in the states. So sure, it’s a long way away from Britain, but with such small numbers, it could be the only available TC4 for months.