BMW 3.5 CSL – from rat-infested shed to 76MM

24th April 2018
Bob Murray

From a rat-infested shed in Indonesia to paddock pride-of-place at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, it’s been quite a journey for one of the coolest cars at this year’s MM, the Group 5 BMW 3.5 CSL.


With its huge rear wing, spectacular green and striped livery and 3.5-litre straight six pushing out 485bhp at 9000rpm, the Gösser Beer BMW well lives up to everything you always imagined a Group 5 car should be. 

Plus, the names on the door are special: Ronnie Peterson and Dieter Quester. The car was built for them to drive in the 1976 World Championship for Makes, part of the World Sportscar Championship that year. The title went eventually to Porsche in ’76 but the BMW won enough for it to go down as the winningest CSL of them all. And everyone who saw it in action remembered it. 

The car’s owner today, Tony Walker, certainly remembers it. “I saw this car in action at Silverstone in 1976 and thought then it the sexiest looking BMW saloon car ever made, which is what I still think. All CSLs are gorgeous, but a ’76 Group 5 car with the big spoiler is the coolest.” 

But what’s with the rats? Surely a world championship car with such provenance would be cherished always. Not so, as Tony tells GRR: 

“I found this car with rats living in it in a shed in Indonesia in 1992. It was in amazingly original, but amazingly bad, condition. I knew it was a real Group 5 CSL but what I didn’t know was that it was the missing car from the 1976 World Championship.”

Tony says that after a year competing in the German series in ’77 the car was sold by Schnitzer to Indonesia. It competed in four Asian races before, as Tony puts it, “being pushed into a shed and forgotten about for 10 years. The owner thought it was just some old rubbish race car.”


It took Tony three years to buy and get it back to the UK where, to his surprise and delight, the BMW Museum experts confirmed it as the missing 1976 car. “I couldn’t believe it when I was told,” says Tony. 

Today it is immaculate after a restoration in the UK by Alex Elliot, the man charged with looking after it for Tony to drive in the high-speed Group 5 demo at Goodwood. 

As you can imagine, Tony Walker likes nothing better than getting the Group 5 machine out and as well as demo drives he has done three Classic Le Mans in it.

And all this from a man who really loves his…rally cars. Tony collects the awesome Group B machines and currently has eight of them. “The BMW is the one oddball in my collection – but to me, it’s the jewel in the crown,” he says. 

“It’s been a great honour and privilege to have the car here at Members’ Meeting. To be here next to Moby Dick, and also with the CSL’s sister car from ’78… you look at that row of Group 5 cars and think, wow, just brilliant.”

And no rats in sight!

Photography by Tom Shaxson, Pete Summers, Jochen Van Cauwenberge and Jayson Fong

  • 76MM

  • BMW

  • 3.5CSL

  • 2018

  • Members Meeting

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