Just today, a 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL was bid to almost $200,000. Though the top bid ($180,000) isn’t exactly bargain-bin pricing, it isn’t out of line, with vintage BMW’s climbing in value every day – I’m sure no one needs reminding of the quarter-million-dollar E30 M3 that sold earlier this year. There’s a few reasons collectors and enthusiasts find the CSL to be a high-value target.
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One thing is for sure; BMW isn’t making any more 3.0 CSLs. The car debuted in 1971 at the Geneva Motor Show, and was produced as a homologation special, with BMW building just enough models to make the cut for the European Touring Car Championship.
Less than 1,300 were built worldwide, and all of them featured a “lightweight” spec (hence, the L in CSL – the CS standing for Coupe Sport) – including an aluminum hood, trunk lid, and doors, and use of plastic and Perspex for body components and windows. All of that netted a weight loss of roughly 450 pounds from the normal 3.0 CS.
This 3.0 CSL featured a slightly tuned up version of the original 3.0 CSL’s engine, featuring a 3,033cc, twin-carbureted M30 inline-six. Good for around 200 hp and 204 lb-ft of torque, the slightly larger displacement allowed it to race in the “3.0+” (by liter) class. All of the 3.0 CSLs came with a four speed Getrag manual transmission, powering the rear wheels, with a 25% locking limited-slip differential.
The CSL’s suspension gets some tweaks over the basic 3.0 CS as well, featuring Bilstein shocks, a lowered ride height, a tweaked steering system, and increased front and rear camber. The CSL adopts the same 10.7” brakes as the run-of-the-mill CS, and this particular example is fixed with 16” ALPINA wheels, up from the 14” wheels that came from the factory.
Notably, this car retained its original factory paint – although a full bare-metal respray was performed, the car was originally delivered as a Golf Yellow over black interior car. This one also features some goodies like re-padded and re-upholstered sport seats, torsion bar trunk hinges, and a recovered leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Thing is, this isn’t even close to the most money a 3.0 CSL has commanded on Bring-a-Trailer. A 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” (which included more aggressive aero) was bid to $280,000 just last year, and also failed to meet the reserve price. Just last month, a modified CSL sold for $175,000 – I suspect that this car had a higher reserve price due to its more “true-to-original” restoration and rare color.
Despite the apparently $200k+ asking price, it’s tough to put a price on this car’s provenance and historic importance. With BMW’s recent re-introduction of the CS badge, and allegedly, the CSL badge, this car is not only a limited run vintage BMW, but represents an origin story, and almost promises to be an appreciating asset in the coming years.
Sure, it’s a shame that this car likely won’t see much more mileage than the 200 miles the seller has added since the complete restoration in 2018 – but I guess I wouldn’t risk driving my retirement investment, either. Plus, it is a lot more enjoyable to look at than Apple stock.