The Batmobile is fetching some bat-crazy money nowadays

One way to make sure that a car is rare is to check if it was built simply as a way for an automaker to race that certain model on the tracks or the rally stages. This applies to BMW’s E9 CSL, the winged warrior that dominated the European touring car racing scene for the better part of a decade taking wins against the likes of Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar in the process. The road-going version is just as flamboyant and, as this latest BaT auction proves, incredibly desirable.

The BMW CSL is so old it predates M division

This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Exterior
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BMW replaced the first ’New Class’ two-door coupe in 1968 when the Bavarians introduced the 2800 CS, codenamed the E9. Penned by then-BMW Chief Designer Wilhelm Hofmeister, the 2800 CS was a gorgeous proposition from end to end featuring such unmistakably BMW traits as the angled front fascia, which would later earn the E24 6-Series its ’Shark’ nickname, and Hofmeister’s very own kink around the pillar in the back. But, while some cars can be sold on looks alone, BMW backed the 2800 CS’ beauty with some serious firepower under the hood which would prove pivotal in its racing career.

The engine in the E9 coupes was the M30 inline-six, a cast-iron block unit with an aluminum head and a forged crankshaft.
This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Drivetrain
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Featuring a crossflow cylinder head and a chain-driven camshaft, the engine’s capacity grew from 2.5-liters all the way up to 3.2-liters as BMW tried to extract more power from what became known as the ’Big Six’.

While the M30 made less than 150 horsepower in the 2800 CS, it was pushed to over 200 horsepower in 3.2-liter trim as used on later CSLs.

The bigger engine had to happen because the race-prepped 2800 CS was getting its back end handed to it by Ford’s Capri out on the circuit. With a full-fledged, factory-backed racing team based out of Cologne, Ford of Germany was very serious about its involvement in racing while BMW left most of the weight on the shoulders of a few trusted tuners such as Alpina, Schnitzer, or GS-Tuning. Recognizing that the CS is both overweight and underpowered, BMW got to work designing a light version - hence the L in the CSL’s name.

This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Exterior
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To stay at the forefront, BMW built more than one batch of street-legal CSLs (to homologate a Group 2 sedan racer you had to build at least 500 units of that car that were fit for road use). The first batch of road cars featured the 3.0-liter version of the M30 version thus allowing the CSL to race in the top division of the ETCC for cars with engine capacities of three liters and more.

Then, in the summer of '73, after again being beaten in the first few rounds of the season, BMW homologated the 'Batmobile', a winged version of the CSL that sported the 203 horsepower, 3.2-liter M30 engine.
This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Exterior
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As the wing was illegal under German law, the cars reached customers with the wing neatly tucked in the car’s trunk along with bolts and instructions for DIY installation. The important part was that the wing was part of the road car which meant it could be used on the race car as well. The Capri lacked a wing and it showed: on the updated CSL’s debut, the Nurburgring 6-hour race, it romped away leaving the Blue Oval in a cloud of dust. Further wins at the Spa 24 Hours and at Silverstone helped BMW win the European Touring Car Championship that year with driver Toine Hezemans. Later on in the decade, BMW remained the only constant in the top class and won four consecutive titles between ’76 and ’79.

This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Exterior
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The car you see here is a 1972 MY CSL meaning it’s one of the earlier cars that lacked the full aerodynamic treatment but it did feature the thing gauge steel body panels and aluminum doors, hood, and trunk lid. Painted in Golf Yellow, it was delivered new to an Italian client before changing hands a few times and ending up on the other side of the Atlantic. While 500 CSLs were sold new in the UK, BMW never sold this model Stateside meaning BMW fans had to do all the yard work themselves importing cars one by one.

Over the years, this example was the happy recipient of more than one upgrade. For instance, the M30 inline-six was swapped with a 3.5-liter, naturally-aspirated inline-six with dual Weber carburetors from an ’80s BMW and a Getrag five-speed manual gearbox in place of the original four-speed transmission. The exterior was also altered during the car’s restoration as the body was painted black with the (some would say obligatory) M stripes plus all of the bits and bobs of the 1973 Batmobile CSL that this car lacked.

This Exquisite 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL Just Sold on BaT for $175,000 Exterior
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In other words, it’s not quite as it left the factory but the restoration done to it is of exceptional quality which is why people kept bidding up and up for it until it was sold for a whopping $175,000. To put it into perspective, the BMW M8 Competition Coupe starts at $146,000 while the electrified i8 Roadster starts from $163,300. But neither of those modern Bimmers can boast the time capsule flair of the CSL and that’s what makes it so desirable. We’re sure prices on these old BMWs will only go up, a fact further proved by this $250,000 E30 M3 that sold recently. God knows how much an M1 would go for, then, considering BMW only built 399 of them and they were going for about $600,000 a pop four years ago...

Source: Bring a Trailer

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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