BMW 3.0-litre CSL Batmobile – 1973
To many, the ‘Batmobile’ evokes the blacked out 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura or the low, angular concept of the more recent superhero movie. But to BMW racing fans, it has an entirely different meaning. Perhaps one of the best-looking BMW racing cars (with the exception of the M1), the 3.0-litre CSL ‘Batmobile’ proved an unstoppable force in 1970s touring car racing.
Derived from the road-going E9, the 3.0 CSL Batmobile featured a spoiler under its angular ‘shark’ nose, strakes atop the bonnet and a sweeping rear wing, a body kit which reportedly added a huge 90kg of downforce at 124mph. Unsurprisingly when you look at it, the aero effects also drew comparisons to the DC comics car of the same name.
1,039 homologation models were produced between 1973 to 1975 in order to get the BMW competition cars certified, each powered by a straight-six, making 209PS (206bhp) and 286Nm (211lb ft).
Weight savings came thanks to a thinner gauge steel in the monocoque, plus an aluminium bonnet and boot (the latter reverted to steel upon addition of the rear wing). Luxuries such as the carpet, power-steering, electric windows and sound-deadening materials were removed, allowing the 1,270kg car to reach 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 136mph.
While the homologation models themselves were impressively contested, the BMW competition cars, which made in excess of 300PS, saw brilliant success in touring races, particularly in the European Touring Car Championship and the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft. In 1973 and 1974, Batmobiles won the special tourism class at 24 Hours of Le Mans, before going on to win the European Touring Car Championships every year from 1973-1979, with the exception of 1974.
Across the pond, the 3.0 CSL was fielded in the 1975 IMSA GT Championship, with Sam Posey, Brian Redman, and Ronnie Peterson winning races during the season. Meanwhile, the Group 5 3.5 CSL won three races in the 1976 World Championship for Makes.