In 1968, BMW launched the 2500 saloon, and it was this car that gave birth to a string of elegant coupes that peaked with the CSL “Batmobile.”
The first such model was the 2800CS, and with independent suspension, taut chassis and a 170-horsepower engine, it was an attractive candidate for circuit racing. While the factory did not take the CS to the track at first, renowned performance tuning company Alpina—among others, including Schnitzer—did.
The first major victory came in 1970, when a BMW CS won the prestigious 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium. Ford was still dominating on the track with the Capri, but BMW got seriously involved in 1971 and introduced the CSL (Coupe Sports Lightweight) derivative. In BMW’s drastic efforts 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 also deleted, such as the front bumper, along with the extraction of power steering, electric windows, thick carpets, comfortable seats and sound deadening.
To improve downforce, the front gained a deep air dam, the fenders grew pronounced air guides and a trunk lid lip spoiler was added. The dynamic beast also came with a roof-mounted deflector and a huge, two-part rear wing. The rear wing was so large and heavy that BMW had to revert back to a steel trunk panel in order to support the weight of it under load.
While it was still badged as a 3.0 CSL, the engine’s capacity rose to 3,153cc. The menacingly staunch profile of the new CSL soon earned the nickname “Batmobile,” which was a direct comparison to the Caped Crusader’s own mode of transport. A total of 110 first-series cars and 57 second-series cars left the factory until production ceased in December of 1975.
This car is number 46 of the 57 second-series Batmobiles built. About one-third of the cars still survive. These cars were all assembled in BMW’s Motorsport Department. Unlike the first series, a wide variety of options could be specified, so each is slightly different. Given such rarity and the sheer importance to BMW’s racing tradition, this car would form a valuable addition to any high-quality collection.
Originally finished in Polaris Silver, this 3.0 CSL was delivered new in May 1975 to BMW dealer Helmut Hackl in Korntal, DEU. The BMW Museum bought the car in December 1998. Starting in the spring of 1999, the car was totally dismantled and restored to concours standard. This painstaking task took until July 2001 to complete. In the process, the factory decided that the car was to be refinished in Chamonix White with red/blue stripes, which was the livery of the factory racers.
Often mimicked by standard CSLs with bolt-on visuals, the BMW CSL Batmobile, the first of the now legendary BMW Motorsport creations, is an archetypal vehicle deserved of a place in any high-profile collection for use in concours events or rallies. The car should be classed as the ultimate expression and appreciation of one of the finest models ever built by the makers of the “Ultimate Driving Machine.”