Victories in series

The history of success of the BMW 3.0 CSL

The BMW 3.0 CSL, together with the BMW 02, laid the foundation in the 1970’s for the history of success of BMW in touring car sport, which lasted for decades. And for us, the 3.0 CSL is also an important milestone in our motor sport history.

In 1971, the first 3.0 CSL Coupés were produced on the same basis as the large BMW Coupé “E9”, so as a qualification series for the touring car sport. “CSL” then stood for “Coupé Sport Lightweight”, as it does today The name defined the program: Thanks to consistent lightweight construction, – the hood and doors consisting of aluminium and the rear windscreen of perspex among other things, – the BMW 3.0 CSL weighed only 1,165 kilograms and therefore weighed 200 kilograms less than the series model. In the last upgrade stage, the CSL provided a full  206 hp which it coaxed from a 3.2 litre six-cylinder, inline engine.

A remarkable aerodynamic package, not only  for that time, gave the BMW Coupé the nickname “Batmobile”. The rumour stubbornly persists that the former BMW works driver Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck was asked at a service station, whether the remarkable rear wing of his private BMW 3.0 CSL involved an innovative ski rack.

Nevertheless, the Coupé also proved a sensation in racing sport: The BMW works cars, equipped with Bilstein shock absorbers with the charismatic strip design and the large spoilers, characterised the image of the touring car scene in the 1970’s.

Right from the first year, the BMW 3.0 CSL cleared all before it. During the 6 hour race on the Nurburgring, the CSL of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Chris Amon could not be overtaken after 42 laps before sweeping over the finish line. Niki Lauda set a new lap record of 8 minutes and 21.3 seconds during the same race with the second BMW works car.

In the debut year of 1973, the BMW 3.0 CSL additionally won the touring car European Championship right off the bat. Furthermore, the European Champion title of Toine Hezemans, a Dutchman, was one of the first international titles for BILSTEIN. Five more European Champion titles followed.

The BMW 3.0 CSL was also successful in the USA and could pull off some spectacular successes in the IMSA series. At first with a 3.0 and later with a 3.5 litre four-valve engine, which produced a turbo-fired power output up to 950 hp, BMW racing cars were among the most competitive cars in the field.