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LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION, MOTORSPORT AND ART, TIMELESSLY UNITED.LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION, MOTORSPORT AND ART, TIMELESSLY UNITED.

LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION, MOTORSPORT AND ART, TIMELESSLY UNITED.

5 min reading time

The BMW 3.0 CSL.

Batmobile, artist object and motorsport legend – the BMW 3.0 CSL has a lot of special characteristics.

15 June 2021

Six European championships, a sensational lap record on the Nürburgring and the first ever BMW Art Car – wherever the BMW 3.0 CSL turned up, it stood out from the crowd. Time for a journey through the history of the BMW lightweight coupé.

5 POWERFUL FACTS:

  • Max. output 151 kW (206 hp)
  • Displacement: 3.153 cm³
  • Vmax: 220 km/h
  • Curb weight: 1,270 kilograms
  • Production number: 167

BMW 2800 CS – THE PREDECESSOR.

FROM RACETRACK TO ROAD.

THE TURNING POINT IN MOTORSPORT.

ON THE WINGS OF A BMW.

BMW 3.0 CSLBMW 3.0 CSL

The BMW 3.0 CSL from 1973: From 1973 onwards, the BMW 3.0 CSL was the most powerful street version of the series. The engineers achieved their ambition of a more competitive character in the third stage of development via greater capacity, output, extremely lightweight construction and a striking aero package. And they got the nickname “Batmobile” for free from BMW fans.

FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.

No other BMW renders the designers’ favourite saying more visible than the 3.0 CSL. The air rails on the front wings ensured greater stability in fast bends. The 2cm wider wheel housings allowed room for 7” wide alloy wheels. The front spoiler put more downforce on the front axle and the massive rear spoiler gave the rear wheels more traction. The latter had to be removed for street use, as the wing wasn’t street legal. When the car was delivered, the spoiler was in the boot, not mounted on the attractive rear end.

LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION.

6.1 kg/hp6.1 kg/hp

6.1 kg/hp

6.1 kg/hp: The BMW 3.0 CSL’s unladen weight of just 1,270 kg made for an excellent power to weight ratio, which put an exclamation mark on the spec sheet in the 1970s.

THE INTERIOR.

THE ENGINE.

6-cylinder inline engine of the BMW 3.0 CSL6-cylinder inline engine of the BMW 3.0 CSL
Developed for motorsport: 6-cylinder inline engine with 206 hp at 5,600 revs and 3,153 cm³ capacity.

Excellent performance: The lightweight version of the CS coupé had 180 hp, two carburettors and a top speed of 213 km/h. The final version managed 206 hp and had a Bosch petrol injection. All versions of the E9 series had a 6-cylinder inline engine. The capacity rose from 2,985 cm³ to 3,003 cm³, peaking in 1973 at 3,153 cm³. The Batmobile had a manual gearbox and those accelerating in fourth gear were rewarded with a top speed of 220 km/h.

HARD TO BEAT.

THE WORLD’S FIRST BMW ART CAR.

BMW Art Car by Alexander CalderBMW Art Car by Alexander Calder
BMW Art Car by Alexander Calder.

From the racetrack to the studio and back – the BMW 3.0 CSL set many milestones. In 1975 the sculptor Alexander Calder created an artistic landmark with the six-cylinder-coupé and laid the foundation for the BMW Art Car Collection. Having an artist create an automobile was the brainwave of French racing driver Hervé Poulain, who also later drove the artwork in competition. As in his art, Calder used strong colours and curved surfaces, which he generously distributed on wings, bonnet and roof.

BMW Art Car by Frank StellaBMW Art Car by Frank Stella
BMW Art Car by Frank Stella.

Already one year later came the second eye-catching BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car. Painter Frank Stella created the fastest work of art in the world of its time. Stella’s CSL had 750 hp. In his design, the artist abandoned his usual free work and allowed himself to be inspired by the racing coupé’s technological aura. A black and white grid of squares was the result, which in its precision resembled oversized graph paper. Every shape of the chassis parts is grated by this graph paper, so that every curve and protrusion can be formally captured and exactly described.

Since then, some of the world’s top artists have styled BMW automobiles of their time and in doing so have found very different forms of expression. The BMW Art Car Collection includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, A. R. Penck, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari and Cao Fei. The BMW Art Cars reflect the cultural development of art, design and technology.

LEGENDARY AND RARE.

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