It’s adorned from tip to toe with those legendary BMW Motorsport stripes. It’s got Hezemans and Quester emblazoned on the doors. It’s swollen-arched and bewinged in a way that’s entirely befitting of its famous and affectionate nickname.
MAY 31st 2016
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So for those three reasons, folks, the answer to the question in the headline is yes.
And wherever this fantastically authentic Group 2 BMW 3.0 CSL goes – most recently the Donington Historic Festival, where our pics were taken, and the Spa Classic – it stirs the souls of 1970s touring car followers and slackens the jaws of fans of the Coupe Sport Leicht movement.
Lovingly restored over a long period by long-time CSL enthusiast and expert Alex Elliott of Roundel Racing, it has been a labour of much love, as he explains.
“I’ve had the car a long time,” Elliott says. “It was in a poor state and had to be completely rebuilt, so I had to start from scratch. Due to lack of time it was 2007 before I actually drove it for the first time.”
The car, chassis #2275998, has a remarkable history. One of four works cars that took on the challenge of the European Touring Car Championship in 1973, it raced in the opening round at Monza, where Austro-Dutch pairing Dieter Quester and Toine Hezemans retired with wheel-bearing failure. It sat out the next two rounds at Salzburgring and Mantorp Park (the only two events that year won by BMW’s nemesis and its Ford Capri RS2600), before Quester/Hezemans finished second to the sister car of Chris Amon and Hans Stück in the Nürburgring 6 Hours.
Before that one-two on home soil, the car had taken a hard-fought class win in the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Quester/Hezemans coming home 11th overall and first in the Touring Car class.
The next three rounds of the prestigious ETCC, the blue-riband Spa 24 Hours, 4 Hours of Zandvoort and 6 Hours of Paul Ricard, produced a hat-trick of victories for Quester/Hezemans. This purple patch did wonders for Hezemans’ drivers’ title aspirations. He’d finished second in an Alpina-run CSL at both the Salzburgring and at Mantorp Park, so was ahead of Quester in the points race.
For 1974, our car ran under the Precision Liegeoise banner with Franco-Belgian pairing Jean-Louis Lafosse and Alain Peltier winning two ETCC races – at Monza and Vallelunga. With a third place at the Salzburgring alongside countryman Hughes de Fierlant instead of regular partner Lafosse, Peltier went on to take second in the drivers’ championship.
The car’s final period hurrah was a Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschäft (DRM) win for Harald Grohs at the Nürburgring in 1975.
The immaculate Bimmer has been proudly flying its Bavarian Motor Works flag in historic racing circles since Elliott 2007, with Nürburgring Oldtimer GP, Spa Classic, the past three biennial Le Mans Classic events and several Goodwood Festival of Speed outings on its already impressive CV.
Elliott has shared the car with Hong Kong-based Australian Adrian Brady since 2010. Brady enjoyed the experience so much that he bought the car from Elliott at the end of 2014.
“We did the Le Mans Classic together and I loved it,” admits Brady. “And imagine what it was like to have Dieter Quester join us in 2012! As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of BMW Motorsport, he joined us in ‘his’ car. And, I can tell you, his first lap in the car – in the wet – was mindblowing!
“We were also first BMW home in Plateau 6 in 2014,” Brady recalls fondly. Alex is busy preparing the car for this year’s event – I can’t wait to race there again in July. We’ve been out at Donington and Spa this year and it’s a real privilege to drive an authentic, race-winning CSL, let alone own one!”
And, with an unabashed – unhealthy, even – passion for all things CSL, this writer couldn’t possibly do anything other than nod foolishly at that prospect.
Photography by Tom Shaxson
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