With a total of 1,383 units ever made around the world, the BMW E46 M3 CSL is one of the rarest birds out there wearing the BMW logo on the hood. And while rarity alone would make them collector’s items, it’s the way they make you feel that demands outrageous price tags whenever you see one for sale. One such example was found recently in the UK and it’s one of only 542 right-hand drive units ever assembled.
The UK market is one of great importance for BMW, therefore, out of the 542 right-hand drive models ever built, 422 reached the European country, the rest of right-hand drive markets out there having to fend for themselves, sharing the remaining 120 units. Countries like South Africa, Japan and Australia had to make due with an extremely limited amount of brilliant BMW E46 M3 CSL models. But what made the CSL so desirable?
It was, as some journalists put it back then, everything an M car could possibly be in terms of handling and fun. The car was drastically changed compared to its regular BMW M3 counterpart. Most focus was on making it as light as possible, the nameplate at the back standing for Coupe Sport Leichtbau in German or Lightweight in English.
Therefore, a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (GFP) roof panel, which weighs over 13 pounds less than its conventional steel counterpart was installed along with a front bumper support that was also made of GFP. At the rear, the lower rear valance panel was made of GFP, while the reshaped trunk lid was made of SMC (sheet molding compound). Fiberglass-reinforced plastic was used for the rear bumper supports and this material is also “sandwiched” with thermoplastics and foam to create the trunk floor and rear bulkhead. As a final weight-saving measure, the rear window glass is extra thin. BMW claimed that the M3 CSL weighed 3,054 pounds, or roughly 10 percent less than the normal model.
Then you take a look under the hood and notice that the S54 engine was tuned to make 360 HP and 273 lb-ft of torque. Chip in the specially tuned SMG II transmission and this thing is a rocket on wheels. As saving weight was a big part of the program, the cars didn’t get a radio or AC unless you specifically asked for such comfort amenities. It’s the case of the car we’re showing you today.
Up for grabs at Hexagon Modern Classics, this E46 M3 CSL comes with a radio, CD changer and AC as the only optional features ticked by the original owner. The car has just 20,200 miles on the clock which makes it almost brand new, sort of justifying the £79,995 ($98,000) price tag it comes with.