|Original List Price:||$13,500 (Never sold in the U.S.)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$600|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate right side of engine compartment behind shock tower|
|Engine Number Location:||Left side of block above oil filter housing|
|Club Info:||BMW CS Registry, 5341 Gibson Hill, Edinboro, PA 16412|
This 1973 BMW 3.0CSL “Batmobile” sold for $153,718 at Christie’s London sale on June 26, 2006.
The car that the BMW 3.0 CSL begs comparison to is the Porsche 911 2.7 RS. Both were available in several flavors-“touring” and “lightweight” for the 911, and the “city package” (with metal bumpers and front spoiler only) and 3.2-liter “Batmobile” for the BMW. Both were built as homologation specials that resulted in significant production. While the 911 has been a sought-after A-list collectible for quite some time, the CSL has yet to achieve flavor-of-the-month status. The most likely reason is that in street trim, the 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL just isn’t as exciting as its looks suggest it should be.
In touring form, the 2.7-liter 911 RS made around 210 hp, compared to a 190-hp 2.4-liter 911 S. The extra 20 hp plus tuning differences made for a significantly better-performing car. The CSL, on the other hand, put out 206 hp, just a 6-hp difference over the normal 3.0 CSi. Street CSLs were clocked to 60 in around 7.0 to 7.5 seconds (compared to around 8.0 seconds for a 3.0 CSi). Decent performance for the time to be sure, but nothing spectacular.
And then there were the looks. The E9 coupe, upon which the BMW CSL was based, was one of the cleanest and most elegant coupes ever. Unlike the subtle flares and the clever ducktail of a 911 RS (both of which look so right on the car), the Batmobile wing, air splitters, and bizarre tacked-on chrome wheel arch extensions of the CSL (which look more at home on a Florida 560SL with gold accents) do nothing positive for the BMW. Undeniably effective in providing downforce on the track, the aerodynamic add-ons have a juvenile “boy racer” look compared to the 911 RS, which looks purposeful and well executed.
In any event, this is an important piece of BMW history. The CSL was the first product of the Motorsport division, and as such was the progenitor of the famous “M” cars. The competition provenance of the vastly fiercer track versions is impeccable, and they remained competitive in the hands of privateers long after the E9 coupe had gone out of production.
While somewhat of a paper tiger, Batmobile CSL production numbers were low, and the car does have a considerable amount of cachet as a result of this and its track success. It would be welcome at events like the Tour Auto and Modena Cento Ore. For the price paid, and in comparison to other homologation specials from the ’70s like the RS and even the Plymouth Superbird (sporting an even more garish wing), it represents good value. But because it lacks the performance to match its looks, it will never appreciate at the forefront of the market.