The press release for the BMW 3.0 CSL is long. Very long, but that’s acceptable when it’s covering a bespoke model with the sole purpose of celebrating M’s 50-year anniversary. Although at the very beginning there’s this paragraph:
‘The BMW 3.0 CSL is produced in a strictly limited edition. To mark the anniversary, exactly 50 consecutively numbered units of the special model will go on sale. Right from the start, this gives the BMW 3.0 CSL the status of a rarity that will find its place in the vehicle collections of particularly loyal and enthusiastic fans of the BMW M brand.’
Is that rather a shame? I mean, to start off seemingly acknowledging that these cars will end up in those safety-deposit-box car collections, never to be seen again. I guess that’s the world we live in now. There is also a lot of talk about how this is a largely handmade car. About how each one takes 10 days to complete, by a team of 30 specially qualified and experienced technicians based at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Moosthenning – the plant that, among other things, makes the body panels for Rolls-Royce.
The hand finishing extends to the paintwork, and the application of those distinctive M coloured stripes and lettering, along with the lightweight body panels that form its exaggerated wheel arches and the rear wing. Oh, that wing. It's perhaps the most obvious element that ties this 2023 3.0 CSL to the original. The original ‘Batmobile’ that, of course, blazed a trail in the European Touring Car Championship, winning the title in 1973 – its inaugural season – and repeating that a further five times in succession, between ’75 and ’79, in the hands of greats such as Toine Hezemans, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Chris Amon and Niki Lauda.
Among all the press-pack bluster there are a few salient points. For example, the 2023 3.0 CSL, which is based on the current M4, puts out 560hp. That makes it the most powerful production straight-six engine BMW has produced to date – just as the original 3.0 CSL’s 206hp straight-six was back in ‘73. And, like that, this CSL also comes with a manual gearbox. That’s right, there’s no eight-speed auto here; just a six-speed manual with ratios that are ‘ideally matched to the performance characteristics’ of the engine. You even get an engraved H-pattern on the bespoke, white gear knob.
The only modern twist is that this latest CSL has a rev-matching option and sends its power through an Active M Differential. This offers continuously variable locking – right up to 100 per cent of the torque going to one side – and, in case you’re wondering, the torque only ever goes to the two rear wheels. To help you manage that, it comes with M’s 10-way adjustable traction control system.
The twin-turbo ‘six’ also produces 406lb ft of torque in total, and, according to BMW, ‘possesses the same technological roots as the power unit of the current DTM winning car.’ It revs out to 7,200rpm and has an ‘extremely rigid crankcase in a sleeveless closed-deck design, forged lightweight crankshaft and a cylinder head core featuring 3D printing technology.’
As with the engine, the suspension is based around the M4’s. Up front that means a double-joint spring strut, while at the rear there’s a five-link arrangement specific to the M3 and M4. The CSL carries over adaptive damping, rather than switching to manually adjustable suspension, and retains M Servotronic steering with a variable ratio. Carbon ceramic discs are fitted all round – 400 mm for the front axle with six-pot calipers; single-piston fixed-calipers with 380 mm discs at the back. The calipers are finished in red, and there are the M-typical two settings for brakes feel adjusted through the infotainment system.
Right then, onto that largely handmade body. Some of it is made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, but the roof, bonnet, boot lid, front and rear aprons, side sills, rear diffuser and the rear spoiler are pure carbon fibre. Other weight-saving elements include a titanium rear silencer that sheds around 4.3kg over steel, though there's not an overall kerbweight yet. The Y-spoke wheels are made of forged light-alloy (20 inches at the front, 21 inches at the rear). They’re centre-locking wheels, which the press release proudly points out are tightened to 686lb ft – 'the highest value for a BMW Group production vehicle.' Well, good luck changing a wheel at the side of the road, then. They're also finished in very fetching '70s shade of gold, and shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres that are unique to the car; there's '50' printed on the sidewalls to denote that fact.
There’s plenty of weight saving inside, as well. For example, the CSL has less sound insulation, the door panels are CFRP, and the front seats are manually adjustable M Carbon full buckets. The rear seats aren’t there; instead, you get storage compartments for two crash helmets. As you’d expect, there’s lots of black Alcantara, including on the seats and steering wheel, along with matt carbon trims and contrast stitching that mirrors the exterior bodywork colouring. And each car is numbered sequentially, from #01/50 to #50/50.
Price? No idea as yet, or whether they’re all sold. We've asked BMW both questions but haven't received answers yet. I wouldn’t bet against those answers being (a) a lot, and (b) yes. And assuming they have all been snapped up, what a shame many may never be seen again until it’s time to turn a buck. Let's hope not though, eh?
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