Last week, Ozzy Tyres acquired some artwork from Jayson Fong, a local artist with an incredible passion for cars, motorsport and the artform they create. One of the pieces is a front fascia of a BMW E9 CSL. The shapes are unmistakable for any other motor vehicle, but we decided it would be a good idea if we understood the history of the car a little more. So, a fact finding mission began and this is what we have learnt.
It all started with the BMW E9 200CS. A rather good looking sports coupe that started life with 100bhp from a 2-litre straight six in 1965.
Long story short, in 1971, BMW decided they wanted to take the car racing, and so the 3.0 CSL was born. Their was a road going, homoligation special made available, purely to satisfy FIA sports car rules, and as a result, a legendary race car was born.
In 1972, the 3.0 CSL raced in the European Touring Car Championship.
For 1973, the car received a bump in displacement allowing it to compete in the over 3litre class at 3153cc. Later in 1973, the final version was homoligated with the full “batmobile” aerodynamics package that makes it so memorable. The cars sold for road use left the dealerships with the rear spoilers in the boot because they were illegal on German roads…
Conveniently, in 1973 it won the European Touring Car Championship and its class at Le Mans and the German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nurburgring.
But in 1975, the new 3.5litre M49 engine was developed and CSLs would dominate the German Touring Car Championship from 1975-1979. With BMW supported by racing teams AC Schnitzer and Alpina, powered was up up to and over 400bhp. Only an oil crisis forced a change in rules and for Europe, the car was neutered in both power and aero.
But in the USA, no such restrictions existed and there was a chance to battle the dominant Porsche for the IMSA GTO class in 1975. It was truely here that BMW’s M team flourished and managed to get the CSL down to about 1,000kgs, and pump those guards even more than before.
Whilst it didn;t in the championship, it did win the Daytona 24hr in 1976 race against Porches and Covettes, earning BMW its first big win in North america.
3.0 CSLs would also be the first 2 of 17 Art Cars. Painted by famous artists, and then raced at Le Mans.
We hope you enjoyed the first trip back in time, and we hope to bring you more in the near future, with thanks to Jayson Fong’s inspiration.