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Vehicle of the Day



1974 BMW 3.0 CSL Group 2 (Elite)
To leave nothing to chance, BMW lured Ford racing director Jochen Neerpasch to Munich who set up the now legendary BMW Motorsport department. Using the new 3.0 CSi model as a basis, BMW Motorsport created the 3.0 CSL for Coupe Sport Leicht or Coupe Sport Lightweight. Where possible the trim and sound-proofing was removed and the bonnet, doors and boot were are aluminium. In the first production cars a 180 bhp three litre engine was installed, but from 1973 the CSL came equipped with an even more powerful 3.2 \'six\'. Today the 3.0 CSL is most famous for its extensive set of wings, which earned it the nick-name \'Batmobile\', but none of the road cars ever came equipped with the aggressive spoilers. A necessity on the track, they were deemed illegal for road use. Opening the boot after delivery revealed eight carefully packaged pieces with instructions on how to turn the bare CSL into the Batmobile.Differing in detail from the road car, the racing CSL was ready for action in 1973. During the season, six cylinder engine was increased in size from the initial 3.2 litre to 3.5 litre and the four speed gearbox replaced by a Getrag five speed box. Compared to Alpina\'s first efforts power was up by 75 bhp and weight down over 150 kg. Fielded foremost by the BMW Works team livered in the now familiar M-colours, but also by Alpina and Schnitzer, the 3.0 CSL fought an epic battle with the Ford Capri throughout the season. At the end of the season, it was Works driver Toine Hezemans who took the driver\'s title and BMW claimed the manufacturer\'s crown. Exemplary for the series\' popularity were the guest drives of Formula 1 drivers Lauda, Hunt, Stuck and Amon. The latter two scored a victory in the N├╝rburgring round of the season after six brutal hours on the Nordschleiffe track.Over the winter both BMW and Ford made use of the opportunity to modify their cars in accordance with the 100 examples minimum production rule. Both manufacturers developed twin cam, four valves per cylinder head, resulting in a power hike to well over 400 bhp. Ford also worked on aero improvements to match the Batmobile\'s downforce. The global oil crisis had reached a new high and this was reflected in the grid for the first race of 1974, which was noticeably smaller than for previous editions. Both works teams skipped the first round to debut their latest material in the second. Ford had managed to close the performance gap, but at the cost of decreased reliability. Drama struck for BMW in the N├╝rburgring race where all ten entered CSLs failed to finish, leaving an easy victory for Ford with a Zakspeed Escort. BMW decided to bail out on the championship leaving the championship for Ford and its driver Hans Heyer.At the end of the season Ford followed BMW\'s lead, leaving the 1975 ETCC to the privateers. Now in the hands of the Schnitzer and Alpina teams, the 24 valve CSLs were again the force to be reckoned with Alpina\'s driver taking the crown. With sometimes less than a dozen cars entered, the 1975 season showed how quickly a championship could go sour within a year or two. To cut costs the rules were changed for 1976 and with homologation regulations tightened the four valve head and big body kits were banned. Equipped with the 3.2 litre engine and 4 speed gearbox, the CSL remained highly competitive until the end of the decade, even against a new generation of racing cars. The 24 valve cars went to United States and were re-homologated to run as Group 4 & 5 cars in the popular IMSA GTO championship.

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