Over the past few decades we have become used to BMW producing powerful ‘M’ cars based on their standard models. This was not always so and in 1972, BMW’s first foray into this sports car category started with the 3.0CSL which was based on their 3.0CS coupe. It was homologated to gain BMW entry into the European Touring Car Championship, and a number of weight saving measures were carried out to improve the overall performance of the cars earning it the ‘L’ bit in its badge. It was a successful move and the E9 CSL became the precursor to many lightweight versions of other standard BMW road cars such as the E46 M3 CSL and more recently the E92 M3 GTS. Conceived in the BMW motorsport division, later to be renamed BMW M GmbH, the CSL is considered to be the first of a long line of M performance cars.
Developed to go racing, the CSL achieved some great results, with wins in the Le Mans 24 hour in the special tourism class in 1973 and 1974, the IMSA GT Championship in 1975 and winning the European Touring Car Championships every year from 1973 to 1979 bar for 1974.
A CSL was also used as an automotive canvas by renowned artist Alexander Calder, becoming the first ever BMW art car, the second one was also a CSL this time painted by Frank Stella. A Hommage CSL was revealed in 2015, showcasing some cutting edge design and hinting at the future of the BMW Coupe while paying tribute to the classic lines of the original.