1972 BMW E9 ‘CARBURETTOR’ CSL
The BMW E9 CSL has a special place in our hearts at Classic Heroes, we grew up with them and have long waited for them to achieve their rightful place in the annals of motoring history.
We think that time is now upon us. However whilst most people know of the Batmobile, it’s the very earliest cars that fascinate us.
These cars were BMW’s first attempt at producing a true lightweight homologation special for racing. It was the development work undertaken by Alpina and their peers that convinced BMW that only the production of a true lightweight car using the latest materials and methods was the route to success on the track.
The car Chassis Number 2211723 was manufactured on 21 January 1972. This car is number 85 out of just 169 pre-production ‘prototype’ lightweight vehicles specially produced by BMW & Karmann.
The first owner was a young Italian wine merchant who must have been a very successful young man because theCSL was one of the most expensive cars in the world at the time. Circa £7,500. More expensive than an Aston Martin, Mercedes 350 SL or even a Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS!
He clearly loved and enjoyed the car very much as he went on to keep the vehicle for over 21 years. During this period the car was dry stored and protected from the ravages of regular use and unsympathetic owners.
We eventually bought the car in May 2009, It was being stored close to Munich. It was the perfect opportunity to call in and see our great friends at BMW Classic. They were very excited at the prospect of seeing an original, unrestored carburettor CSL. So after collecting the car we drove it through Munich city centre and straight back to it’s spiritual home at BMW’s HQ and the Classic Centre Workshops.
Together we planned a programme of mechanical re-commissioning to ensure that the car was as good as new. All the time related components such as fuel lines, coolant hoses and the like were replaced and the car was given an extensive service programme. We also took the opportunity to detail the underneath of the vehicle and protect the car with gentle anti corrosion measures.
The initial 169 cars were plucked from the normal CS production line and extensively modified with aluminium doors, bonnet, boot and roof panels, lightweight steel wings, no power steering, plexiglass side and rear windows, no sound proofing and even thin carpets. This is in direct contrast to the later CSL’s with their power steering, electric windows.
This initial run of 169 cars were produced from September 1971 to July 1972 and it is believed that 21 of these vehicles were purchased by the likes of Alpina and Schnitzer for conversion to Group 2 racing cars.
The remainder were sold through the fledgling BMW international dealer network.
These first 169 vehicles are regarded as the first and purest version of the legendary BMW 3.0 CSL. Known as the carburettor cars (they dispensed with the tricky new fangled fuel injection, in favour of tried, trusted and tuneable option of carburettors) they went on to dominate the European & World Touring car championships for almost a decade.
On the back of this success the BMW board gave the go ahead to homologate a further 1000 chassis. Jochen Neerspach and Martin Braungart were recruited from Ford to head up the new company and develop the racing version of the CSL and to this end BMW formed a new company to oversee the racing activities of the Group –BMW Motorsport GmbH.
This was the birth of M
The CSL was gradually developed over the next 6 years and delivered an amazing 5 European Touring car championships.
Even then the CSL continued to compete successfully for a total of 10 years with power outputs up to 750 bhp – a figure never even dreamt of at the cars inception.
We had always heard about these carburettor cars, but had never actually seen one, so when we heard rumours of one in Europe, not only in original condition, but without the dreaded rust problems afflicting cars of this era and low mileage, we had to investigate further.
We were delighted to find that the rumours were true. We had indeed found an original carburettor CSL which had lived most of its life in the sunny climes of the Asti region of Italy. The car had only covered 63,000km (40,000 miles) in its entire life!
Whilst BMW Classic and their extensive workshop facilities were used in relation to the main re-commissioning works. We at Classic Heroes took certain items, such as the specific CSL Bilstein dampers and had them re-built by our specialists (in some cases the original manufacturers). It was our intention to keep the car as absolutely original as possible, so the car was left with BMW Classic to carry out the major works, whilst we carried out the specialist off site works.
After several months consultation and several trips to Munich with specific parts , we were thrilled to return home to the UK with our own very special CSL.