The BMW 3.0 CSL is a legendary racing car and icon in the BMW Motorsport portfolio. Built by Karmann between 1968 and 1975, the BMW 3.0 CSL was a svelte 2,400lbs with 3.2-liter (340 hp) and later with 3.5-liter (440 hp) engines. Its aerodynamics earned it the nickname “Batmobile,” and established BMW as a premier racing team.

History of the BMW 3.0 CSL

The BMW 3.0 CSL had an impressive racing history. In 1973, Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in a 3.0CSL and co-drove a 3.0CSL with Dieter Quester to a class victory at Le Mans. Hezemans and Quester also drove to second place at the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring, being beaten only by Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck in another 3.0 CSL.

This final version of the 3.0 CSL was homologated in July 1973 along with an aerodynamic package that included a large air dam, short fins running along the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof, and a tall rear wing. The rear wings were not installed at the factory, but were left in the boot for installation after purchase.

First BMW to wear the ///M stripes

The BMW 3.0 CSL IMSA was bound to take to the track in the U.S. wearing Texaco stickers on it, as the American company and BMW had agreed on a deal. Unfortunately, things went south on the deal and the Texaco name wasn’t used on the car but the three stripes were kept on. This is how we got the famous M stripes.

The BMW 3.0 CSL was more of an experiment, as BMW wanted to race badly and created these cars as homologation specials back in the day. The rules for various motorsport events required that the car you wanted to race in a limited series must be sold beforehand. This is how the 3.0 CSL took shape, both the road-legal version and the racing alternative.

According to Jochen Neerpasch, the BMW 3.0 CSL served as a perfect exercise back in the day, as BMW learned it was better to develop the race car first and then turn it into a road-legal model rather than the other way around because it was a lot cheaper. This is how things are done to this day over at the BMW M headquarters.

In conclusion, the BMW 3.0 CSL is a legendary racing car that left a lasting impact on the motorsport world. Its impressive racing history, innovative design, and iconic livery make it an unforgettable piece of BMW’s heritage. In this video, we explore the history of the BMW 3.0 CSL, as narrated by Marc Thiesbürger, car and racing historian for BMW Group Classic, who also has a few secrets to share with us.