This BMW 3.0 CSL embodies "The Ultimate Driving Machine"
Imagine in your mind’s eye all the major tropes of a proper BMW. For good measure, repress all knowledge of the existence of the 2-Series Active Tourer into the deepest, darkest most inaccessible recesses of your mind.
Now that’s gone and you’re picturing Hofmeister kinks, throbbing inline-sixes, appropriately-sized kidney grilles, taut muscular arches and hints of controlled rear-end attitude, allow us to add some detail to that quintessential “Bee Em” cocktail. It’s the 3.0-litre CSL, otherwise known as the taproot of the modern fast BMW coupe. Every time they let a new two-door coupe spoiling for some oversteer off the chain, the calls to their heritage department begging for a 3.0-CSL side-by-side must cripple their phone lines.
What’s more, we think this 3.0-litre CSL, which we investigated at the HSR Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, embodies the core philosophy of these cars. For one, it was once Dieter Quester’s daily. Yes, Austrian BMW factory driver and triple-European touring car champion, Dieter Quester. He, at the wheel of racing versions of these and various other concoctions of the fledgeling M-division, helped forge the idealisations of a generation, of BMW sports coupes as the definitive everyman’s racer. Of course, this was the car behind the scenes. It was Dieter’s ride home from the office – the company car that when all was said and done after a day’s testing, he’d retire to for the journey away. What reflections of tumultuous and glorious seasons alike must have been made in here? He was out at Daytona in the same class racing a sonorous BMW M1 and while we didn’t manage to catch him we saw shots of him posing with this car and his Le Mans entry No. 51. It must have been strange for Dieter in the M1 sharing a grid with his old daily…
Of course, this thing’s undergone something of a transformation since its days serving as his off-duty racer’s express. That transformation began a few years ago when owner, Dick York, caught wind of HSR’s new classic events, starting out in something quite different to the Bimmer: “I asked David Hinton who runs HSR and also runs this shop – I started out with a Ferrari Challenge car – and I asked him what would be more appropriate for HSR he said, looking over to a CSL: 'Well, one of those...' I said Okay!” So this is a project devoted to HSR’s US-wide classic motorsport events… we admire the dedication. What else appeals about the CSL? 'Well, it’s very cool!'” No arguments here…
So what goes into turning a road car into a fully-fledged historic racer? “It’s like a custom car. We’ve stiffened it up," added Dick. "Taken weaknesses out where we can and tried to supplement as per the purpose-built racer. They all have weaknesses because they’re basically street cars and don’t always stand up too well to race conditions… It’s running a 7-Series 3.5-litre block with triple side-draft Weber carburettors. We’re not too happy out here. We need different gearing and a different cam for more power. We’ve got the Daytona rear end in it but it’s too high. It kind of hits an aero wall about 144 and against the slipperier more powerful 911s it’s kind of lost”. We wouldn’t have had them be so humble if we knew how it’d fare. It’s a small fish in a big pond but nevertheless managed to finish just about dead in the middle of its class – seventh out of thirteen in the Classic 24 – not to mention that at the Sebring Classic 12-hour in 2016 it secured a class victory. That’s the high-speed drag-hating nature of Daytona for you.
For a project existing purely for these HSR events, you’d hope it gets its fair share of usage. We’re happy to report that is exactly the case: “We went to the first Classic 24 two years ago. It’s been to The Mitty at Road Atlanta, Sebring for the Classic 12 Hour and more," said Dick.
So there you have it – a fine example of the car that defined one of motoring’s most hallowed bloodlines and an example that embodies the spirit of the breed, too. That most glorious of purposes – for driving – with no designs on stagnation in an air-conditioned de-humidified automotive coffin. It’s a car that gives real credence to that “The Ultimate Driving Machine” tagline that’s fallen out of favour in recent years.