1973 BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile”

The BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” was one of the most outrageously brutal road-going homologation specials ever conceived, designed to exploit several loopholes and bring to BMW a German Saloon Car Championship. In order to homologate a more competitive racing car, the monocoque was formed from thinner-gauge steel, and aluminum was employed to skin the hood and trunk. An array of luxuries were deleted, such as the front bumper (the rear bumper was now formed of polyester), power steering, electric windows, thick carpets, comfortable seats, and sound deadening; in total, 250 kgs (approx. 551 lbs) were shaved off the curb weight.

Despite this, Ford managed to keep the Capri ahead of the CSL on the track, thanks largely to the supreme efforts of engineers Jochen Neerspach and Martin Braungart. However, in 1972, BMW adopted the attitude that “to beat them you have to buy them,” and thus Neerspach and Braungart joined BMW, becoming catalysts for the formation of BMW Motorsport Gmbh. To improve downforce, Neerspach and Braungart added a deep front air dam, the fenders grew pronounced air guides, and a trunk-lip spoiler was added. Though not able to be supplied fitted by the dealers in Germany, the dynamic beast also came with a roof-mounted deflector and a huge rear wing (so large and heavy that BMW had to revert back to a steel trunk panel to support the weight of it under load). Whilst still badged as a 3.0 CSL, the engine’s stroke was increased, raising the engine capacity to 3,153 cc.

The menacingly staunch profile of the new CSL earned the nickname “Batmobile,” in direct comparison to the Caped Crusader’s own mode of transport. Only 110 such road-going examples were produced in this 3.2-liter form in 1973, with a mere 57 more cars leaving the factory until production ceased in December 1975.

The homologated improvements allowed BMW to beat Ford in style during the 1973 European Touring Car Championship and made for some of the best racing battles of the era. At the end of the 1974 season, BMW and Ford both withdrew from the series, but in private hands, the Batmobile remained a winner.

This particular example has been confirmed by BMW Mobile Tradition as having been finished on September 10, 1973, and delivered two weeks later to BMW dealer Autohaus Vincentz in Kempen, Germany. Acquired by Maurice Gierst, owner of a BMW dealership in Brussels, in the early 1980s, the 1973 BMW 3.0CSL was treated to a comprehensive yet highly sympathetic restoration, which included a full engine rebuild with new Mahle pistons and a lead-free cylinder head conversion. Once completed, it remained in the showroom on display and was only rarely taken out.

Rob Sass

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Rob was pre-ordained to accumulate strange collector cars after early exposure to his dad’s 1959 Hillman Minx. Sass served as Assistant Attorney General for the state of Missouri and then as a partner in a St. Louis law firm before deciding his billable hours requirement terminally interfered with his old car affliction. His stable of affordable classics has included a TVR 280i, a Triumph TR 250, an early Porsche 911S, and a Daimler SP250. He currently owns a 1965 E-type coupe and a 1981 Porsche 911SC.

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