Photos: E46 BMW M3 CSL – A head turner

BMW M3 | June 8th, 2009 by 18
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Last year, Andrew gave us an enthusiastic article on the E46 BMW M3 CSL, one of these M cars that many BMW fans are still …

Last year, Andrew gave us an enthusiastic article on the E46 BMW M3 CSL, one of these M cars that many BMW fans are still hoping to see in the future.

The M3 CSL was a very low production, one-off model based on the E46 M3 and using its 333 horsepower engine as basis. The CSL stands for Coupe Sport Light and as the name suggests, it came with a lot of carbon fiber parts.

CSL came with a lighter carbon fiber roof and interior paneling, light seats and the buyers had the option to opt-out the radio and air conditioning unit. BMW built the car i only two colors: Silver Gray and Sapphire Black.

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BMW made a limited run, less than 1,400 units of the M3 CSL (E46) vehicles between June and December 2003. Unfortunately for those of us in the U.S., due to the short production cycle and the complications and expense of clearing DOT and EPA standards for the North American market, BMW never brought the CSL to the United States.

To somehow satisfy the U.S. consumers’ needs to upgrade their M3, some parts from it were later made available on the regular M3 as part of an optional Competition Package.

In the UK, the BMW M3 CSL cost 20,000 British Pounds more than the regular M3 version, but it also came with a tuned up engine outputting 360 horsepower.

If we recall correctly, the CSL held for a while the BMW road car Nürburgring record of 7 minutes 50 seconds.

The question remains whether BMW will ever built another CSL version of the M3, but for now, these cars remain unique and quite valuable. As you can see in the photos below, there are plenty of reasons why they are so appreciated.

[Source: ]

18 responses to “Photos: E46 BMW M3 CSL – A head turner”

  1. BooKoo says:

    Well…doesn’t the CSL still hold the best time on the Nurburgring for a BMW.

  2. Matt Stokes says:

    I could be wrong but I don’t think that CSL (or at least some of the parts) is genuine.

    Front bumper is all wrong, should only be one intake and the lower splitters are carbon fibre IIRC.

    (PS I posted on one of the pictures too, didn’t mean to, need to get used to this new fangled layout!)

  3. AlexD says:

    The E46CSL is by far one of my all time favorite cars. I commend you for putting up an article for the car (and citing the source!). Unfortunatly that car is NO CSL….. the replica wheels aren’t even close. The front bumper should be a dead giveaway for those that are completly blind or lack any knowledge of BMW

  4. JAlex says:

    Sorry but I really doubt that is a CSL, AlexD is right.

  5. Matt Stokes says:

    I could be wrong, but the rear quarter windows on the CSL are pop-out-to-open types with fixing visible on the outside of the glass, can’t see that on this car.

    I’m shedding a tear for the aborted E92 M3 CSL.

  6. TT says:

    “BMW built the car i only two colors: Silver Gray and Sapphire Black.”

    This one is white. Isn’t that good enogh proof :)

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Good point! I take the blame for that :) I was also torn between the idea of looking at a CSL replica or the original deal…

      ok, so if it’s not a CSL(ignoring the badge on it), could it be just a replica, with CSL parts?

      • You’re right, it’s a replica, it’s a good one with the exception of the front bumper. It’s got the rear diffuser, CSL wheels, badges, raised trunk spoiler, carbon fiber roof, etc. The only give away is the color, CSLs only came in Carbon Black and Silver Gray, and the bumper here has two air intakes versus only the one right-hand intake for the larger intake on the right-hand side of the engine.

        So, this is a pretty good replica!

      • bnc says:

        At first I was also convinced it was a very good replica for the same reasons posted above, but now i’m not so sure anymore since I clearly see the outline of CSL type seats in the interior. This makes me believe it is in fact real one albeit repainted in Alpine White and with a different front bumper since everything else seems genuine.

  7. ikon says:


    I believe this is a 325 ci, the owner of a tuning site used to have a 325 ci which he rebuild to look like a CSL. Some pictures of it can be found here : and here:

  8. john garabedian says:

    i wish my dream is M3

  9. Marc graham says:

    I have a csl had it for nearly 3 years now it’s my daily driver it’s a great useable car

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