Monday, May 25, 2015

BMW 3.0CSL (1973-75)

The Touring car class quickly became very popular with manufacturers and fans alike in the early 1960s. It was the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to prove their worth on the track, and for fans to see the cars they drove to the track compete. The minimum production requirement was the sale of 1000 production cars for homologation purposes.

BMW took up construction of bespoke racing engines for single seaters and sports prototypes. Finally there was also considerable backdoor support to local tuning company Alpina, who joined the works team. Alpina developed a racing version of the somewhat similar BMW 2800 CS. Breathing through three huge Weber Carburetors, the 3L six cylinder engines produced 300 bhp, but it was not enough to bring the heavy coupe up to pace with the Ford. Serious development work was needed to the extent that a new homologation was required. Weight was shaved off and the Webers replaced by a Kugelfischer Fuel Injection system boosting power to 335 bhp. Alpina was capable of a lot, but producing 1000 cars to pass the homologation requirements was a bit much. At this point BMW stepped in and took over the development and production from Alpina to seriously take on Ford. From 1973 the CSL came equipped with an even more powerful 3.2 'six'.

Using the new 3.0 CSi model as a basis, BMW Motorsport created the 3.0 CSL for Coupe Sport Leicht or Coupe Sport Lightweight. Where possible the trim and sound-proofing was removed and the bonnet, doors and boot were are aluminium. Featuring a lightweight alloy bonnet and outer door skins, thin-gauge steel panels, deleted front bumper, lightweight interior, up-rated engine and a host of radical aerodynamic devices inspiring its “Batmobile” nickname. However, none of the road cars ever came equipped with the aggressive spoilers. A necessity on the track, they were deemed illegal for road use. Opening the boot after delivery revealed eight carefully packaged pieces with instructions on how to turn the bare CSL into the Batmobile. The UK-destined cars were somewhat more civilized and retained their stock bumpers, power windows and soundproofing. Released in two distinct series between 1973 and 1975, just 1,265 examples of the 3.0CSL were factory-produced. ( &

On the track, the 3.0 CSL was more than a match for its nemesis, the Ford Capri, creating a sensation in German Touring Car (DTM) and European Touring Car Championship competition and securing the ETCC championship in 1973. After 1974, the CSL continued its career in German Touring Car and FIA Group 5 competition, often highlighted by the airborne driving style of famed BMW works driver and eventual Le Mans champion, Hans-Joachim Stuck. (

BMW 3.0 CSL Group 2 Spec Race Car

(Photos from,, &

BMW 3.0 CSL Art Cars

 (Above3.0 CSL Group 2 by Alexander Calder, 1975

(Above) 3.0 CSL Group 5 by Frank Stella, 1976

Below (L) 2015 3.0 CSL Hommage              (R) 3.0 CSL 

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