The BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" E9 is an automotive icon

Before the M cars, there was the Batmobile. The BMW 3.0 CSL (E9) racked up wins on the track and laid the foundation for today’s BMW performance road cars. A new video from BMW Group Classic provides an overview of this iconic car.

Unleashed on race circuits in 1973, the 3.0 CSL was a racing version of the E9-generation 3.0 CS, BMW’s large coupe of the period. It was designed for the FIA Group 2 class, which meant 1,000 road cars also had to be built for homologation purposes.

The CSL got its “Batmobile” nickname from the massive rear wing and other add-ons, which made it look a bit like a certain superhero’s ride. Power was provided by an inline-6 engine displacing 3.2 liters and producing 206 hp in the final evolution of the road car.

BMW 3.0 CSL road car

BMW 3.0 CSL road car

In its first season, the racing version won the European Touring Car Championship. A CSL also scored BMW’s first major sports car racing victory in the U.S. (at the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring), while another became the first BMW Art Car, with a paint scheme by Alexander Calder.

The 3.0 CSL was also among the first cars to sport BMW’s now familiar M racing stripes. In case you were wondering, the red stands for racing, the blue stands for BMW itself, and the purple represents the blending of the two.

It’s worth noting that the racing version shown in this video is a replica, built by BMW for historic racing to avoid risking the incredibly valuable original the company has in its collection. But it’s not like you’ll be able to tell the difference through a screen.

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