The timeless and beautiful shape of the big BMW coupe was first conceived back in 1965 in the 2L coupe by Karmann, it developed into the e9 chassis in 1968 and production continued until the final model rolled off the production line in 1975. The introduction of the coupe in 1968 signalled BMWs intention to return to the luxury car market sector, an area it had been forced to ignore for years while it struggled to turn around its fortunes during the early 60s.
In 1971 BMW and Karmann decided to explore the possibility of a lightweight performance variant of their coupe after seeing success on the track with tuning company Alpina. Taking 169 vehicles from the original CS production run engineers set about stripping weight from the CS; first they addressed the original construction and fitted lightweight Aluminium doors, bonnet, boot, roof and lightweight steel wings to give a full lightweight shell. Not content with this engineers removed the side and rear windows in favour of Plexiglass to save weight as well as fitting fitting thin carpets and removing the power steering, sound insulation and electric windows. The engine remained unchanged from the 2,985 cc carburetted inline 6 found in the CS, but BMW had managed to remove almost 200kg in the cars extreme diet resulting in a huge upturn in performance. Seeing the huge potential in these lightweight cars 21 examples were purchased by Alpina and Schnitzer, who converted the E9s to race in the German Group 2 Touring car series. These early cars are known as the ‘Ultra Lightweights’.
Dubbed the CSL (coupe sport leicht) this car was the inception of BMWs M division and soon saw further development to become homologated so BMW could dominate the German touring car scene. To qualify the car for racing in the over 3 litre division, capacity of the engine was re bored and quoted as 3003cc and converted to a Bosch injection system, which in road trim resulted in 200bhp at 5500rpm. The CSL label needed only 1000 cars to make it eligible to race. It was developed by a separate division in BMW AG which would later become BMW Motorsport GmbH. While the CSL does not carry the M badge many consider this as the first ever M car and one that first carried the tri colour motorsport livery.
Racing achievement – It is rare that a competition car lasts more than four seasons, in-fact by the time a race car is winning it is usually obsolete and designers are developing its successor. Such was the achievement of the coupe in international racing that it raced from 1969 through to 1978 and even then in 78 still won its fifth European touring car championship against stiff competition. Exploring the success of the CSL during its motorsport career is an impossible task to do here on this page, there is too much of it! Further reading and viewing is highly recommended as drivers such as Hans Stuck and Dieter Quester all wrestled the Munich monster in various Works, Alpina and Schnitzer incarnations from Group 2 400bhp cars to Group 5 750bhp fire breathing turbo rockets.
LHD, Inka (022) Paint, Black CSL Graphics, M30 Inline-6, Dual Zenith Carburettors, ZF 4-Speed Manual Gearbox, 14″ 2-Tone Alloys, Chrome Arch Extensions, Fibreglass Bumpers, Lightweight Aluminium Body Panels, Doors, Bonnet, Boot, Roof, Lightweight Steel Wings, Power Steering Delete, Lightweight Plexiglass Windows, Fixed Side, Rear, Sound Insulation Removal, Lightweight Carpets, Manual Windows, Scheel Half Leather Sports Seats, 3-Spoke Steering Wheel, Wooden Trim
Detailed by its small bumpers, chrome arch extensions and iconic racing stripes, the simplistic silhouette is achingly pretty from almost every angle. Just 4 colours were available for the pre-production run of the CSL, and this striking shade of Inka (022) is surely the most impressive of them all, contrasting the bright chrome work and black detailing to perfection.
A focused lightweight study this pre-production example features a few interesting details that nod to the CSLs racing design, with lightweight Perspex rear windows, fibreglass bumpers and a 2 quick release fixings on the bonnet for easy access on track.
The paint work is first class having just rolled out from a 2 year nut and bolt restoration with mark specialists. The car is stripped to a bare metal shell and rebuilt as per factory standard spot welds, folds and panels. Further rust proofing is carried out at this time while panels are removed to ensure the integrity of the work is upheld for much longer than even the factory intended when new. Every component then attached is either rebuilt, refinished or replaced. As such every inch of the car is like new including the underneath which is as good to look at as the above with all components treated and rebuilt. Simply staggering and a worthy finish for such a successful touring car.
Mirroring the design of the E9s coachwork, the interior is a stunning example of high quality craftsmanship and lightweight design. Half leather Scheel seats instantly give the impression of something special, with their deep bolsters and up right driving position all lending themselves to a more focused driving machine. Furthering the cars extreme weight loss the electric windows in the standard CS were replaced with manual mechanisms whilst the sound insulation was removed and the carpet changed for to a thinner material to save precious kilos.
During the extensive restoration process every piece of the interior was carefully restored or replaced to ensure the original factory finish or colour scheme has been upheld. The level of workmanship is extraordinary, with details as simple as the headlining agonised over; the restoration team managed to source CSL specific punched black headlining and has the speckled carpets exactly reproduced to ensure the car looks as good as it did the day it left the factory.
Markedly different to the engine found in the later cars this pre production CSL uses the same M30 inline 6 as the CS on which it is based. Displacement remains at 2,985cc as opposed to 3,003cc in the homologated cars that were bored to meet requirements for the 3L + touring car class. Another major difference is the dual Zenith carburettors that feed the engine, which were switched to a Bosch injection system in the larger displacement engines. Output is rated at 180hp and 192 lb/ft of torque, which is more than enough to make the CSL a very fast car when you take into account its 200kg weight reduction over the standard CS.
This example retains its original engine and has been fully rebuilt to ensure common integrity throughout the restoration. Every component attached has been stripped down and replated or replaced resulting in a fresh as new finish rarely seen on the CSL.
The ZF gearbox has also been rebuilt with every bush of linkage refurbished or renewed that becomes clearly obvious when out on the road with a tight and positive shift.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
The period 14 inch BMW wheels are refurbished and present as new with sparkling chrome centre caps, new stickers and wheel bolts. Wrapped in good rubber all round with plenty of tread the multi spoke alloys hide new callipers, discs and pads all round.
All suspension components have been renewed with new shocks, ball joints and rubber bushes complimenting an incredible restoration and contributing to a tight and responsive drive as if it were new back in 1970s.
Produced in 1971 by BMW and Karmann as 1 of 196 pre production cars, this incredibly rare Ultra Lightweight CSL comes with an equally impressive history. Chassis 2212341 was purchased new by a gentleman in Bulgaria who successfully campaigned the car in club level racing for a number of decades, its history file is rich in colour with period trophies and pictures to celebrate what these cars were designed to do on inception and first purchase by its motorsport fan base.
On retirement after decades of events and enjoyment by the owner, his son was tasked with a restoration in honour of both the car and his fathers achievements with it. On dismantling it it became clear this was no easy task as is the complexity and intricacy of these E9s that still catch out even the most competent of restoration establishments. It turned out too much to take on and thankfully in 2015 this very special 1 owner car found its way to RS garage in Portugal renowned with producing the very best, original and accurate E9 restorations.
Restoration took around 2 years to complete, with a full photographic log detailing the full extent of the nut and bolt restoration of this historic BMW touring car. Included in the cars incredible history file is plenty of paperwork, historic photos of the car racing and trophies from its success in club events.
This CSL is now ready for a new owner to propel it into its second life (but very much not forgotten first life) as a brand new CSL restored to factory standards as it rolled out of BMW nearly 50 years ago.