1973 BMW 3.0 CSL
Registration Number: see description
Chassis Number: 2285447
Recorded Mileage: 45,699 miles
- Genuine Inka Orange, UK-delivered RHD CSL
- Two private owners since 1985
- Offered for full restoration
Those three letters. CSL, or Coupé Sport Lightweight. Six European championships, a sensational Nürburgring lap record, wherever the BMW 3.0 CSL appeared, you knew it had arrived.
Whilst BMW’s new supremely elegant 2800 CS of 1968 led the way, with 170bhp on tap the new model was a sporty and comfortable GT rather than an out-and-out racer. Clearly BMW needed to add lightness, and power.
In the late 1960s Alpina ran a 250bhp 2800 CS at the Spa 24 Hours. Alpina and fellow tuner Schnitzer developed the suspension and drivetrain to turn this sporty, comfortable coupé into a competitive touring car. But the competition drove cars up to 300 kg lighter, and they were winning. So Alpina on behalf of BMW developed a lightweight 3.0 CS for the road, the 3.0 CSL, which also served as a homologation model for motorsport. The first lightweight CSL appeared in 1971, based on the 3.0 CS coupé’s carburettored engine with 180bhp, and a weight saving of 215kg. Around the same time Bob Lutz, a passionate motorsport enthusiast, joined the board at BMW. Lutz headhunted Ford’s head of motorsport Jochen Neerpasch and pushed ahead with the return of BMW works teams to touring car racing. These focused efforts ultimately led to the founding of BMW Motorsport GmbH in the same year. Under Neerpasch, the new 200 bhp 3.0 CSL appeared.
To produce the CSL almost every component of the car was weighed, measured and lightened. Doors, boot lid and bonnet were of aluminium, the remaining steel panels were of a lighter gauge steel, the rear and side windows were perspex, and the lifting mechanism of the bonnet was replaced with thin rods. The driver sat in lighter Scheel bucket seats especially made for the model. Also deleted were the steel front and rear bumper, electric windows, servo steering, and almost all insulation material. The saving was around 200 kg. Just over 1,000 CSLs were produced in total, homologated initially with a 3,003cc engine with which to enter the over 3-litre class in the European Touring Car Championship. The CSL took victories at the ETCC in 1973, and then again between 1975 to 1979.
500 units of CSL production were allocated to the UK in RHD specification. The UK-cars were fitted with the “City Package”, adding front and rear bumpers, electric windows, power steering, a heated rear screen, boot lock, a tool kit and sound deadening, all of which made the car much more civilised but naturally negated a lot of the initial weight loss. Very expensive when new, CSLs are now the most highly-coveted BMWs of all eras.
This late UK-delivered example, chassis #447 of the 500 UK cars, was first registered in August 1973, finished in the desirable colour of Inka Orange with standard fitment Scheel seats in black velour. The earlier history is not currently known at the time of writing, but by the mid 1980s the CSL was in the ownership of a BMW collector from Hampshire, who kept the car as daily transport from 1985 until the mid-1990s. After a period off the road, ownership of the CSL passed in 2011 to our current vendor, who is now offering the car for sale.
At some point the “City Pack” front and rear bumpers have been removed, and replaced with a lighter fiberglass rear bumper in satin black, and a lower front spoiler. The steering wheel has been replaced with a late 1970s BMW Motorsport-style item, the rear parcel has been crudely cut to fit large speakers, but otherwise the interior is to the original specification. The BMW is supplied with its original tool kit.
Although apparently complete, the CSL is clearly ripe for restoration. The sills and floors show signs of extensive corrosion, as do the inner wing and bulkhead areas. Interested bidders should note, whilst the car is currently registered on the cherished number ‘2 SBF’, the vendor intends to place this registration on retention and supply the BMW on its original mark of ‘UNB 20M’.
For many the CSL is one of the performance cars of the 1970s, and this example, in possibly the best colour scheme for the model, is the perfect candidate for full restoration to original condition. Chassis #447 will be offered with a UK V5C, older MoTs from the late 1980s to early 1990s, and a period BMW 3.0 CSL brochure.