Why The BMW 3.0 CSL Was A Lot Cooler Than You Remember

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BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW has had its fair share of wild cars over the past several decades, especially if you count any of the M-sport cars, like the M3, M5, and so on. But those cars are a somewhat more recent phenomenon in BMW's nearly century-long history, with M cars really starting to shine in the 1980s. 

If you want to go back further to find something both truly special and truly crazy, look no further than the BMW 3.0 CSL (or Coupe, Sport, Lightweight). It was part luxury coupe and part bona fide race car. According to BMW, it won six European Touring Car Championship races in the 1970s. 

If the wide body kit and huge wing didn't clue you in, the CSL's powerplant will. It's powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 that generates 206 horsepower. At the time, it was the most powerful BMW engine the company had ever made. Better yet, the car weighed just under 2,800 pounds. 

What's old is new

BMW 3.0 CSL

The racing body kit was so far off from your average pedestrian Beemer from the era that it gained the nickname "Batmobile" despite being very brightly colored. It was a "homologation special," meaning that while it was technically a production car you could buy at a BMW dealership in the early 1970s, it was really a race car at heart. As per the rules of racing from the era, in order for an automaker to enter a car into competition, the automaker also had to make a certain number for public sales. It's the same reason cars like the Plymouth Superbird and Dodge Charger Daytona came to light, albeit with a significantly more European flair.

The original 3.0 CSL left such an impact on BMW fans that the company recently released a new one that was based on the current BMW M4. Instead of just over 200 naturally aspirated horsepower in the original, the new CSL generates 543 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six.

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