1974 BMW 3.5 CSL

During the early 1960s, BMW decided to return to a six-cylinder car, and work began in 1965 on what was to become the E3. The new engine was based on the existing fours and would power the 'Neue Klasse' saloons. The goal for the new sedan was to allow more comfort and passenger space. The models that followed were given names denoting the engine sizes, and suffixes represented fuel injection (i) and long-wheelbase (l). The coupes were all named CS, followed by i (fuel injected) or L (for lightweight models).

The European Touring Car Championship (originally known as the European Touring Car Challenge) was organized by the FIA in 1963 with cars competing under FIA Group 2 Improved Touring Car regulations. During the early years, saloons with four doors with seating for four were eligible to compete, but this was later changed to two doors. BMW was successful during the late 1960s with their BMW 2000TI and 2002 models.

During the 1970s, BMW produced many successful racing models from its E9 series, including the 3.0 CSL. BMW hired Jochen Neerpasch, who had been working at Ford as the racing director, to help establish the BMW Motorsports department. Starting with the 3.0 CSi, the BMW Motorsport department transformed it into the 3.0 CSL (for Coupe Sport Leicht or Coupe Sport Lightweight). Much of the exterior shell was removed and replaced with aluminum components, non-essential materials were removed, including sound-proofing. The early examples were powered by a three-liter engine offering 180 horsepower. After 1973, the CSL came with a 3.2-liter Six. The use of the large rear wing earned it the nickname, the 'Batmobile.' However, these were not installed at the factory, as they were illegal for use on the road. Instead, eight additional pieces with installation instructions were packaged in the trunk.

The CSL was modified and upgraded through several series of homologation specials with aerodynamic body modifications and larger and more powerful engines and mechanical components. Success was quickly found for the factory entry, wearing the now familiar M-colors of red, purple, and blue, in the European Touring Car Championship, with Toine Hezemans taking the title in 1973. During the season, the six-cylinder engine had grown in size, from 3.2 liters to 3.5 liters. Additionally, the four speed gearbox had been replaced by a Getrag five-speed unit.

After the season, BMW began work preparing the cars for the following year. Modifications included a new twin cam, four valve per cylinder head which helped raise horsepower in excess of 400 bhp. Despite having fewer competitors due to the oil crisis, competition rose as Ford had closed the gap on horsepower and aerodynamics. Hans Heyer and his Ford Escort RS1600 would claim the title for Ford. BMW had left the championship after all ten of the CSLs failed to finish at the Nurburgring, leaving the championship for Ford to claim. After the season, Ford would also withdraw from competition. This left the 1975 series to be contested by privateers, which was won by Alpina with the CSLs.

From 1975 onwards, the BMW 'Batmobiles' won five consecutive European Touring Car championships.

In the United States, privateer tuners such as Alpina struggled against stiff competition. Near the close of the 1974 season, BMW Motorsport director Jochen Neerpasch was tasked with developing a factory team for the IMSA Camel GT series. For the 1975 IMSA GT Championship, five examples of the 3.0 CSL were built with four examples being actively raced. Those five cars built were chassis numbers 2 275 992, 2 275 988, 2 275 987, 2 275 986, and 2 275 985. The CSL race cars used a different chassis numbering system than the production cars, with chassis numbers being produced in descending rather than ascending order. Chassis number 992 was a test car that returned to Munich by March of 1975. Chassis numbers 988 and 987 were the first two BMW N.A. racing team cars. They made their racing debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in February of 1975. Sam Posey and Hans-Joachim Stuck drove car number 24, chassis number 988. Chassis number 987 wore race number 25 and was driven by Ronnie Peterson and Brian Redman. Both of these cars retired early from the race due to engine trouble.

A month later, both cars were entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring with chassis 988 wearing #24 and chassis 987 with race number 25, driven by Brian Redman and Allan Moffat. #24 retired on the 102nd lap with an oil line failure. So Posey and Stuck switched to assisting driving shifts for the remaining car. Redman drove for over seven of the twelve hours and during the eleventh hour overcame a failed wheel bearing and a dead alternator. To conserve power, the headlights were turned off. By the twelfth hour, chassis number 987 was in 1st place, having outpaced a field of Porsche Carrera RSRs. This was a tremendous accomplishment for BMW Motorsports, as BMW of North America had been incorporated just a few days before.

The third round of the season was at Road Atlanta. Sam Posey had been running as high as 4th place in chassis number 987 before a rear axle-hub failure led to an accident. 987 was retired from competition and sent to the Alabama workshop for repair. Hans-Joachim Stuck would earn additional victories for BMW Motorsport at Laguna Seca, Riverside, Daytona, and Talladega.

Peter Gregg and Brian Redman won at Dayton with chassis number 986 wearing race number 59.

The 3.0 CSL won six European Touring Car Championships between 1973 and 1979, as well as national championships in several other countries. All five chassis are still in existence.


by Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2019

1974 Vehicle Profiles

1974 BMW 3.5 CSL vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 2275987
Engine Num: M49/3-18

In 1973, the BMW 3.0 CSL made its debut and introduced the world to BMW Motorsport GmbH. Adorned with the now-classic three blue, violet, and red stripes, the 3.5 CSL won multiple titles, including the Touring Car Grand Prix at Nurburgring in its fir....[continue reading]

1974 BMW 3.5 CSL vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 2275988
Engine Num: M49/3-34

This 1974 BMW 3.5 CSL was raced for BMW North America Factory team in the United States IMSA series in 1975, Group IV. Raced at the Daytona 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour.....[continue reading]

Coupe
Chassis #: 2275987 
Coupe
Chassis #: 2275988 


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BMW Monthly Sales Volume

December 2019
35,746
November 2019
31,213
October 2019
25,440
September 2019
27,467
July 2019
23,015
June 2019
31,627
May 2019
27,109
April 2019
23,816
March 2019
32,228
February 2019
23,558
January 2019
18,102
Additional Sales Volume Data


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