Five decades of BWM’s M Division is distilled into the 3.0 CSL


The new BMW 3.0 CSL is the rarest of the rare. Just 50 numbered examples of this homage to the 1970s’ “Batmobile” Touring Car Champion will be built, and they’re all accounted for—even at €750,000 ($781,500) apiece.

That leaves us to ogle its thuggish handsomeness and pore over the technical specification which BMW says “was developed with the intention of combining the best of five decades of racing expertise from BMW M GmbH in an automobile with a highly emotional aura.”

First some history. The original BMW 3.0CSL was built to dominate the European Touring Car Championship, and that’s exactly what it did. In the hands of legends such as Hans-Joachim Stuck, Niki Lauda and Chris Amon it won the 1973 title and then took it again five times in a row from 1975 to 1979. To comply with homologation rules, a road version was built and fitted with a 3,153 cc straight-six, direct-injection engine. At the time its 204 hp was the most power with which a BMW had ever left the factory. Aluminum was used extensively and creature comforts such as electric windows, power steering, and sound deadening were removed to save weight.

That’s a theme that BMW has embraced once again, but now using carbon fiber reinforced plastic for the body panels, roof, hood and boot lid. A titanium rear silencer sheds almost ten pounds compared to a stainless steel unit as well. Twin carbon bucket seats are fitted inside, with helmet storage spaces in lieu of rear seats and Alcantara to trim the cabin—all to minimize mass.

Don’t think that means the M Division has skimped on power, though. The three-liter twin turbo is the most grunty six-cylinder engine BMW has ever fitted to a road legal car. Offering 560 hp the motor has a forged lightweight crankshaft and a 3D-printed cylinder head core. The cooling and oil systems are wisely uprated to cope. Three pedals and a six-speed manual gearbox are installed to create an involving, analog drive, but there’s a digital twist in the form of a shift-assistant which ensures slip-free clutch engagement when downshifting under braking. An Active M Differential partners with the Dynamic Stability Control to help tame the car on the road, but all these driver aids can be switched off for track day hooning.

Finally, let’s take a moment to stop and stare. In essence we have an M4 silhouette, but the way the carbon fiber bodywork flows and flares is just so much more evocative. The 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels are glorious in gold, the trademark M racing stripes look sensational and the double-wing tribute to the Batmobile at the rear is executed with excellence, capped with those famous words “M Power”.

Ultimately this is a folly, of course, a machine that will be sequestered in private collections and seldom seen, but the boys and girls at BMW must have had fun making it.


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