August 13, 2015 @ 06:37 PM

Legends and Legacies: BMW 3.0 CSL

We revisit the 1970s when BMW had conquered the Touring car series with the BMW 3.0 CSL.


We revisit the 1970s when BMW had conquered the Touring car series with the BMW 3.0 CSL.

 
Probably one of the biggest comeback that swept 2015 was the Hommage of the BMW 3.0 CSL. If you’ve picked up the August issue of CAR Malaysia you can read all about the homage version of the car there is even a short write-up about how the old one feels, but what makes the 3.0 CSL such a special car that BMW had decided to make a one-off homage version? Continue reading then.
 
The first CSLs were announced in May 1971, and they were cars that BMW had built with their minds only on homologating a race car for European Touring Car Group 2 racing. BMW had skimmed on everything that makes a car… well a car. The absence of a front bumper, fibreglass rear bumper, racing latches on the bonnet, manual winding side windows made from Plexiglas and alloy skinned opening panels were all the efforts BMW had done to reduce weight.
Word is that BMW even skimped on underbody rust protection and sound deadening while interior trim were of a lower grade quality than a normal BMW machine. The company definitely took the L for Leicht or light in English in CSL to a whole new level.
 
Originally, the CSL shared the same engine under its bonnet as the standard CS/ CSi but BMW later gave it an update from a 2958cc carburettor version that gives 180bhp to a 3003cc engine that allowed the car to race in the three-litre Group 2 competition. At the same time the company swapped out the engine, Bosch replaced the twin Zenith carburettors and that gave the engine 20bhp more to play around with.
 
Up to now, the CSL was only available in left hand drive only but demand made it so that BMW had to start making right hand drive versions for the UK in 1972. Coming complete with RHD City package, the right hand drive versions were more comfortable than the left hand drive as all the weight that were originally stripped off were put back into the car.
The more sought after version that is popularly nicknamed as the Batmobile only came around in 1973. This version came with a 3.2-litre engine that displaces 206bhp, was also made for homologation purposes and is easily distinguished from the previous version thanks to the rear wing.
 
The most interesting fact about that rear wing which sole purpose was to increase downforce was that it came in the boot. Yes, the rear wings were not installed at the factory but were left in the boot for installation after purchase as the wings were illegal for use on German roads. While it had looked daft, BMW had made the right call as the rear wing had been a big help to powering the car to great success in the European Touring Car series.
It was that Batmobile that out the 3.0 CSL down in touring car history. Not only did the car won the European Touring Car Championship, drivers Toine Hezemans and Dieter Quester were also brought to a class victory in Le Mans. Nothing could beat the 3.0 CSL from 1973 onwards only another 3.0 CSL could as evident in the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix in Nurburgring with Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck beating out Hezemans and Quester. The car later went on to conquer the European Touring Car Championship from 1975 to 1979!
 
When it comes to a car done right, the 3.0 CSL had been BMW’s in the 1970s. Fun fact, did you know that the 3.0 CSL was the first car that BMW has ever turned into an art car? Now we know the reason why BMW had created a Hommage version of the 3.0 CSL and they’ve allowed our UK counterparts the honour of driving the car around the block, literally. 
 
Be sure to pick up the August issue of CAR Malaysia to read all about it.
 
Jerrica Leong 

(Image source: BMW press Global)

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