Based on the E9 or “New Six Coupé”, the CSL was aimed squarely at motorsport, with the road cars serving homologation requirements. Thinner body panels and the removal or refinement of any and all interior appointment put the Leicht in CSL, while the engorgement of the six-cylinder engine to 3,000cc+ gave displacement to the name. Latter versions would reach over 3,150cc while the Group 5–prepared car got the 3.5-litre monster. A wider track and crude aero accoutrements afforded the grip and the aesthetic menace won these cars their “Batmobile” nickname.
Why are we telling you all this? It happens that one of the coolest sights we’ve seen at this year's Spa Classic so far is a gang of CSLs lining up for battle in the Heritage Touring Cup for historic touring cars. Nine cars lit up the grid and the track with resplendent liveries they helped immortalise including Jägermeister, Alpina, BP, BMW Motorsport and many more. This cohort taking to Spa, where CSLs battled and in 1976, won, makes for evocative scenes.
The CSL is arguably the foundation of the modern BMW legend and the taproot for BMW Motorsport, without which the marque could not command the reverence it does today. Why else would they build an homage if the CSL weren’t one of the most important cars in BMW history? Seeing these race here is a sight to be savoured, especially in such a number and in such iconic colours – long may they return.
Photography by Tom Shaxson.