They say it's not good to meet your heroes, but that's a movie thing. In the auto world, meeting a racing legend is one of the most satisfying encounters ever. One of those automobile heroes is the 3.0 CSL — one of the most iconic BMW classic cars of all time. The car was, and still is, commonly referred to as the Batmobile because of its aerodynamic extras.

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So, what is it like driving the rare, factory-baked BMW race legend? With six European championships and a sensational Nürburgring lap record, the 3.0 CSL remains in the hearts of many enthusiasts as one of the greatest race cars of all time. Here are some of the many reasons why the BMW 3.0 CSL was so cool.

8 Light And Rigid Chassis

BMW 3.0 CSL rigid chassis

The CSL in the BMW 3.0 CSL stands for "coupé sport lightweight" — and as it seems, the developers at BMW took the L quite literally. They did everything possible to ensure the BMW CSL was among the best and lightest cars at the time. To achieve this, BMW put every component of the car on a weighing scale, and where possible, it was replaced with a lighter option.


The doors and hood were made from aluminum, and where metal couldn't be replaced, it was trimmed down to reduce weight as much as possible. The rear windows were made of Perspex and a hood lifting mechanism used thin rods. Even the interior of the CSL was not left alone — drivers sat in light bucket seats built especially for the BMW CSL.

7 The Engine – Excellent Performance

BMW 3.0 CSL Engine

The M30 powerplant of the 3.0 CSL was offered in three variants, each catering to a set of regulations and the company's racing aspirations. In the first cars, BMW didn't apply any alterations to the carbureted straight-six engine. As a result, the first 169 units came with the same twin-Zenith 35/40 INAT M30. This variant had 180 horsepower, two carburetors, and managed to get the CSL to an impressive top speed of 132 mph.


The next iteration was a 190-horsepower engine that was achieved by slightly increasing the engine's displacement to 3,003 cm3 by increasing the bore. These variants were based on the 3.0 CSi, so the CSL had Bosch D-Jetronic direct injection. The final model came with a 206-horsepower engine and was equipped with Bosch injection. These stats clearly show that the 3.0 CSL is a classic car good enough to compete with some of the best modern sports cars.

6 Sleek Aerodynamic Body

BMW 3.0 CSL body

At first glance, the 3.0 CSL is no different from the regular E9, but, going up the models, the body design changed significantly. First off, the car was put on a diet to cut weight — all the doors, trunk, and hood were built from aluminum. The trunk and hood opened via a light and pin release mechanism.

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Changes continued, and the 1973 model was the ultimate of them all. It featured two longitudinal rubber fins that stretched almost the full length of the hood. It also included two massive spoilers on the edge of the roof of the trunk.

5 Suspension

BMW 3.0 CSL suspension

The 3.0 CSL was not just a great car in terms of exotic design. It also exhibited excellent road holding capabilities. The baseline E9 came with McPherson struts in the front and semi-trailing arms in the rear.


Suspension upgrades brought on board Bilstein gas shocks and 20mm shorter progressive-rate springs. Although all the E9 and the City Pack models came with anti-roll bars, the 3.0 CSL did not have this feature. But it had a longer steering ratio without power assistance.

4 Built To Race

BMW 3.0 CSL racing

After homologation, the 3.0 CSL was ready for the 1973 racing season. BMW managed to sign Jochen Neerpasch, a seasoned race director at Ford. Neerpasch became a definitive figure in BMW's rise to Motorsport fame, and his weapon of choice? The 3.0 CSL, which brought him his first significant success.

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The car was thoroughly redesigned to give it more power and enhance its overall performance. It was made more aerodynamic, efficient, and considerably light. Increasing the engine's displacement placed the 3.0 CSL in a no-limit class. The initial models came with a 3.2-liter engine, which was later enlarged to a 3.5-liter powerplant. The two models featured a Getrag five-speed transmission. The ultimate model of the racing beast featured a 24-valve 3.5-liter M49/2 straight-six engine.

3 Exclusive, Sporty Interior

BMW 3.0 CSL interior

Although it's an old car, the 3.0 CSL's interior featured some level of exclusivity topped with sporty touches. It had some rich wooden additions on the center console and the dashboard. But even with all the wood, drivers could still feel the true sense of driving a touring race car. The car had no air-cooling and crank-up windows, thus making it the true Spartan model of the grand tourer.


The next upgrade on the car introduced racing bucket seats. It also came factory-fitted with a massive Petri three-spoke steering wheel. In addition, this car came with light Perspex windows, and its soundproofing was removed to reduce its weight. However, the City Pack models retained all the features of the comfortable 3.0 CSi.

2 Proven Racing Legacy

BMW 3.0 CSL racing legacy

The Motorsport world saw significant developments in the early months of 1972. This is the time when the BMW Motorsport GmbH was founded. And its goal was straightforward, to achieve quick successes on the racetracks. Shortly after, BMW introduced the 3.0 CSL, a race car that dominated the touring car championship for a long time beyond all expectations.


In 1973, the colors red and blue dominated the motor racing world — above all on the CSL chassis. Race drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck and Chris Amon drove the CSL to cross the finishing line at the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring after 42 laps, and they were way ahead of the competition.

1 The 3.0 CSL Paved The Way For M Cars


The introduction of BMW M was so revolutionary that it changed the face of Motorsport entirely. This revolutionary change started with the change of board of BMW. Bob Lutz, a passionate motorsport enthusiast, took over sales in 1972, and his first mission was to bring all BMW's Motorsport engagement under one roof. He started by bringing back BMW works teams to touring car sport and fishing Ford's racing director, Jochen Neerpasch.


Lutz's efforts led to the founding of BMW Motorsport GmbH, commonly known as BMW M. Under the guidance of Jochen Neerpasch, the second stage of the 3.0 CSL was achieved. This model came with a six-cylinder injection engine capable of 200 horsepower. The final model of the 3.0 CSL was introduced in under 12 months — and it was quite a beast on the racetracks.

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