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The BMW 3.0 CSL Story: #1 Idea and genesis.

Idea and genesis: The new BMW 3.0 CSL reflects the feelings of its developers – heart and soul, passion and pride in the brand and its history.

8 December 2022

The BMW 3.0 CSL – a legend that is inextricably linked with BMW Motorsport and BMW M GmbH. Not only is this vehicle known worldwide for its impressive sporting successes, as the very first model in 1972, the sports car also marked the beginning of a long and successful history of high-performance automobiles from BMW M. Five decades later, on the 50th anniversary of M GmbH, this automotive icon is coming back to life: BMW M is bringing the 3.0 CSL back onto the road as a strictly limited new edition, fulfilling a wish that M enthusiasts and BMW M employees have cherished for many years. But how did it come about?


Product Manager at BMW M Hagen Franke next to the BMW 3.0 CSL.Product Manager at BMW M Hagen Franke next to the BMW 3.0 CSL.
The rhythm is the same as it was back then: a powerful six-cylinder at the front driving the wheels at the rear, the manual gearbox in the middle as a baton – and minimal weight: in the past by means of aluminium, today by means of carbon and aluminium.
Hagen Franke

Product Manager at BMW M


"We have paid tribute to the legend with a three-litre engine, lightweight construction, a look that borrows as much as possible from the historic 3.0 CSL and a manual gearbox, just like the racing cars used to have," explains the M Chief Engineer Concept, Christian Karg. The result is impressively purist and recognisable at first glance as a 3.0 CSL, without appearing retro. And this despite, or perhaps because of, the many and varied requirements that the small team of dedicated specialists was confronted with. "We had to do justice to the historical model and transfer the design, but also the technology, as authentically as possible," says Karg.

Only 50Only 50

Only 50

Only 50 consecutively numbered BMW 3.0 CSL are sold.


The new BMW 3.0 CSL has been redesigned as a stand-alone model. This is made clear at first glance by its unmistakable design, and it is visually underlined by the extremely elaborate paintwork, which – depending on the component – which is applied by hand during as many as eight painting processes. The special technical features of the 3.0 CSL include the extensive use of carbon in the exterior and interior as well as the central locking wheels fitted as standard. In keeping with the anniversary of M GmbH, the small series comprises 50 consecutively numbered vehicles intended for sale. Each one is built with a great deal of passion and in an assembly process that takes days to be completed by hand and in the workshop.

BMW 3.0 CSL in colorful camouflage.BMW 3.0 CSL in colorful camouflage.
Only two pre-production vehicles with promising camouflage and one production predecessor in the final design with the #00/50 remain in BMW's possession.
50 vehicles – that's the only logical number to celebrate BMW M's 50th birthday.
Thomas Arndt

Project Manager


Christian Karg, M Chief Engineer Concept, and Thomas Arndt, project manager, next to the BMW 3.0 CSL.Christian Karg, M Chief Engineer Concept, and Thomas Arndt, project manager, next to the BMW 3.0 CSL.
Christian Karg, M Chief Engineer Concept, and Thomas Arndt, project manager, next to the BMW 3.0 CSL.

"The goal was always to create a car that is classically clean and straightforward, with a focus on the theme of heritage: that's how the vehicle looks today, that's how we started at the very beginning, that's how we wanted it to look. We even went further with the project than we originally imagined," says Christian Karg. The 3.0 CSL has become as uncompromising as it was planned to be from the beginning. Heart and soul, passion and pride in the brand and its history, these things not only went into the development of the new edition of the BMW 3.0 CSL – these feelings can also be found in the finished vehicle itself.

More than 50More than 50

More than 50

More than 50 variants of the roof spoiler were created by the developers until the perfect shape was found in all areas.


A lot of manual work was necessary in the development, for example with the roof spoiler. "This had aerodynamic challenges and our colleagues modified it in countless optimisation loops until these challenges were solved," says Christian Karg. Well over 50 variants of the spoiler shape were created in this way during development and were adapted in the wind tunnel. The developers tested the most diverse options until they found the best of the best.

Another element that you barely notice at first glance when looking at the BMW 3.0 CSL was optimised with a great deal of time and effort and that’s the front number plate holder. "The question was: how can this be easily attached and detached so that the car can drive on public roads with number plates and on closed-off routes with maximum cooling air flow?", explains Hagen Franke.

BMW 3.0 CSL in three different views.BMW 3.0 CSL in three different views.


The attention to detail also makes the car stand out. Some of these little details are only noticeable on closer inspection, such as the historically inspired BMW logos on the C-pillar or the 3.0 CSL embossing on the dashboard support and arm pad, to the towing release cover's catch strap with M stripes. Other details have only emerged over time, including the special white gear knob in the cockpit. "When the interior was presented, it was noticeable that a special feature – an eye-catcher – was missing," says Thomas Arndt. "We then came up with the plain white gearshift knob that can also be found in the racing car. Even more, our interpretation also bears a badge with our 50th anniversary BMW M logo and a fine shift gate."

Detailaufnahme des Schaltknaufs des BMW 3.0 CSLDetailaufnahme des Schaltknaufs des BMW 3.0 CSL
The gearshift knob is the central icon in the interior.
Christian Karg

M Chief Engineer Concept


The BMW M developers are proud of the new edition of the BMW 3.0 CSL. "It is a sports car of the kind that we have been successfully building for five decades. It celebrates everything we have been able to perfect since 1972. It offers the same fun that could be experienced back then, namely: the driver, the machine and the road," says Hagen Franke. Christian Karg is also enthusiastic: "The vehicle is not only a design icon. What look like aerodynamic features on appearance, also fulfil their purpose on the racetrack. The 3.0 CSL has full racetrack capability, and its performance range fulfils the claim it promises visually." The special charm lies above all in the fact that you can also drive the M automobile with number plates off the racetrack. That was one of the big goals that the team fulfilled during development. Thomas Arndt adds: "The new 3.0 CSL is characterised by the purist experience of rear-wheel drive, manual gearbox and six-cylinder. No driver assistance systems, just pure driving experience".



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