One of BMW M’s most iconic cars – the race-bred 3.0 CSL of the 1970s – has been reborn for a new era, with M4 underpinning and hand-crafted carbon fiber bodywork.
BMW M has unveiled the hero of its 50th birthday party, the ultra-exclusive million dollar 2023 BMW 3.0 CSL Sports coupe – but unlikely any will come to Australia.
The new car is based on a regular BMW M4 – but it gets more power and a bespoke, retro-inspired carbon-fibre body that’s largely hand-built, inspired by the 3.0 CSL coupe that propelled BMW to racing success in the 1970s.
Just 50 examples will be built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany – each taking 10 days from start to finish – with reports from Europe suggesting prices could start at €750,000 or AU$1.16 million.
It’s unclear if one will come to Australia – either as a right-hand drive car that can legally drive on Australian roads, or as a left-hand drive vehicle that can only be used on a racetrack or on private land.
The design of the new 3.0 CSL honors the 1970s original with bespoke bodywork, much of which is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic, including the roof, bonnet, decklid, bumpers, fascia and rear spoiler, and fiberglass roof spoiler.
Styling highlights include reshaped front grille vents, wider wheel arches, circular front air intakes and a large rear spoiler similar to the one that gave the 1970s original its nickname “Batmobile”.
However, the M4-derived roots still peek out – the headlights and taillights appear to be from the M4 CSL, the door handles are split and the side window vents are the same as the donor car (albeit with metal inserts installed). on the 3.0 CSL to make the cars look different).
All 50 cars will be finished in a modern interpretation of the original 3.0 CSL’s racing livery, with an Alpine White base coat and tri-color (blue, purple and red) stripes.
The 3.0 CSL is largely hand-built by a team of 30 technicians, using a special paint system developed to apply the stripe design, and each painted body panel takes six working days, according to BMW.
The vehicle’s wheels measure 20 inches at the front and 21 inches at the rear – an inch larger all around than the base vehicle – with center locks that require more tightening force than any previous BMW production vehicle.
They are finished in gold and wrapped in specially designed Michelin tires with the “50” embossed on their sidewalls.
But despite the lighter body (and other weight savings throughout the vehicle), the 3.0 CSL tips the scales at around 1625kg – about the same as a limited (but cheaper) M4 CSL coupe.
The 3.0 CSL is powered by a tuned version of the M4 3.0-litre biturbo straight-six engine that is now developing 412kW and 550Nm.
While power has increased by 7kW over the M4 CSL, torque has been reduced by 100Nm – to make room for a six-speed manual rather than an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels.
The engine – the most powerful straight-six ever installed in a BMW M road car – uses 3D printing technology for its cylinder heads and can spin at up to 7200 rpm.
The chassis highlights include an active rear axle locking differential, M-specific adaptive suspension, 10 levels of M traction control, carbon-ceramic brakes (400 mm six-piston front and 380 mm single-piston rear) and a titanium sports exhaust.
Interior weight-saving measures include carbon fiber reinforced plastic door panels, reduced soundproofing and rear seat removal (replaced with dual racing helmet slots).
It shares the M4 CSL’s M carbon bucket seats, which can be adjusted forwards and backwards using a conventional hand lever – but changing the seat height or backrest angle requires a tool kit and workshop.
The seats and steering wheel are upholstered in black Alcantara, the white gear knob is unique to the CSL, there is 3.0 CSL branding on the door sills and a numbered plaque from “#01/50” to “#50/50”. on the dashboard.
That 2023 BMW 3.0 CSL is to start production shortly and is expected to run for three months. It’s unlikely that one will make it to Australia.