Throughout BMW’s history, a couple of models are truly standing out, leaving a mark not only on the brand’s portfolio but also being so important that they forced the competition to follow suit. Without a doubt, the BMW 3.0 CSL was one of those, the one car that officially brought to light the BMW Motorsport division. It was also the car to first use the legendary CSL moniker, one that is widely known today and loved not only by BMW aficionados but also by car guys and gals all over the world.
Born in the 1970s, the BMW 3.0 CSL is now a part of BMW Classic, some of the most pristine models in the world today being part of their portfolio. Developed as a homologation model for the German Touring Car Championship in the first place, the 3.0 CSL model was actually an upgraded model of the standard 3.0 CS/3.0 CSi coupe.
Unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the 3.0 CSL was initially fitted with a 3-liter twin-carburetor straight six M30 engine which was later replaced with a fuel-injected engine and, for the final version, a 3.2-liter version good for 206 HP and 215 lb-ft of torque. The secret, however, was not in horsepower or torque figures but in the lightweight construction, from which the car also got its name.
The CSL badge stands for Coupe Sport Light and that’s what the 3.0 CSL delivered. It tipped the scale at 2,568 pounds or about 440 pounds less than an equivalent 3.0 CS thanks to a number of changes, including all-aluminum body panels. Not only that, but the CSL also had specific suspension tuning including Bilstein gas-pressurized shocks, specific progressive-rate springs with 20 mm reduced height, and increased camber (1.1-degree in the front, 1.0-degree in the rear) compared to the standard models.
Today, a pristine model can run you seriously high in six-digit territory.