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Appreciating the Legendary 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL

Legendary 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW's 1975 3.0 CSL received the nickname "the Batmobile" because of its aggressive aesthetic and beefy construction. It's one of the brand's most legendary racers from the 1970s era. The car is 46 years old as of 2021 and is still looked back on fondly as one of the German automaker's most notable contributions in its time. This model evolved as the result of innovative engineering and trying new things to figure out what worked the best. Top Speed, gives us a brief overview of the history and inspiration behind the Batmobile. It all started with the launch of the E9 in 1968. The series featured a variety of versions with engines ranging from 2.5-liter twin carbs to 3.2-liter fuel injected versions. The E9 was the inspiration for the 1975 BMW 3.0, also known as the CSL, which became one of the most prolific racecars from the brand. It won more than 100 titles throughout its long and storied history as BMW's representative model on the track. This alone is enough to captivate the minds of those who have a penchant for fast cars. Auto Expres, adds that the CSL achieved something rare in a powerful vehicle from the 1970s era. It achieved a balance between refinement and a raw form of entertainment. These are two features that add to its current value on the collectibles market today.

Aesthetics and Power

The BMW 3.0 CSL had a look that captured the eyes from a glance. When decked out in full racing regalia it looks like a lean mean machine with a menacing grimace, which is the ideal appearance for setting the competition on edge before a race. The extreme aerodynamic kit used as the replacement of the stock body panels changed its looks from the original elegant form to a machine capable of tearing up the road. It only takes a few modifications to transform a once-elegant car that drivers drive for the luxury of it, to a major contender on the track with looks that could kill any sense of smugness. Fins placed on the back of the vehicle are what earned it the nickname "batmobile." As you can imagine, the fins were more for aerodynamics than they were for sheer aesthetics.

Specification of the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL

To fully appreciate the legendary 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL we must observe its specifications. It was equipped with a new inline-six engine that cranked 438 horsepower at 8800 rpm. The body style is a coupe in the race car segment. The estimated acceleration time is about 6.5 seconds from a standstill to 60 mph with a top speed of 155 mph. As a collectible, the current price is on the high-end at about $75,000, according to Auto Express, but we beg to differ. That is a low estimate of value as we shall soon see.

The BMW 3.0 CSL Under Review

Sports Car Digest, called it the ultimate driving car from the 1970s. It was a superstar of touring cars with classic good looks that served as the predecessor of the brand's first M cars and its march into the forefront of the luxury car market. The 3.0 CSL has had a significant impact on the world of motorsports. BMW had a lot of competition from other brands who took center stage after interruptions from World War II. The automaker suffered its shares up ups and downs and it didn't quite find its footing as a leader in the production of racecars or luxury touring cars.

Innovative new technologies

The E9 coupe emerged in 1968 as a cruiser with style, distinction, and a 2.8-liter M30 straight-six that delivered the improvements in performance that BMW was looking for. It offered moderate power but had not hit the sweet spot yet. BMW would go up against the Porsche 011 along with Ford's Capri in the European Touring Car Championship competition. BMW modified the M30 straight-six and granted it triple carburetors to boost its power to 300 HP, but it still wasn't where it needed to be. They introduced an upgrade of the 3.0 CS in 1971. This is how the CSL came into existence. It was a transformed E0 that was engineered into a Group 2 homologation special complete with the name change. In case you're wondering, CSL is short for Coupe Sport Leicht, which is translated as a lightweight sports coupe. They stripped it down and trimmed off 440 pounds from the CS for the track. The CS version retained its luxury features and comfort, but it was heavier.

The Chassis

The 3.0 CSL featured a steel unibody construction with thinner steel used wherever it was possible without sacrificing the integrity of the inner structure. The BMW 3.0 CSL was commissioned for production to Karmann and was produced from the latter part of 1971 through 1975. only 1,265 units were ever built. Not a single example was made to market them in North America.

Final Thoughts

According to, the starting value of a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL is around $75,000, but this is a conservative estimate of its true value. The rareness of this vehicle makes it worth whatever a collector is willing to pay. We've seen 25 listings of this model between 1971 to 1975 examples with an average selling price of $157,894, and a low sale price of $86,049. The highest selling price listed was $330,000 with the most recent sale at $280,000. The Legendary 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL is a car that isn't easy to get your hands on. There weren't many made, to begin with, and those that remain are either offered at high-end auctions or remain locked away in the private garages of collectors.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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