Detroit auto show highlights: BMW 3.0 CSL IMSA

One of BMW's most iconic racing cars graced the marque's Detroit show stand

If you've not watched Adrenalin - The BMW Touring Car Story yet, you really should. Covering BMW's touring car history from the 1960s to the present day, it's enough to convince even the most ardent BMW hater of the brand's worth.

The film presents a revealing insight into a passion that rarely comes across in the business-led world of modern motorsport. It's a visual feast too, not least on its cover, where BMW's 1975 entrant into the American IMSA series takes centre stage. The 3.0 CSL is already a striking vehicle, but box-arched and wearing deep-dish alloy wheels, it takes on a whole new persona.

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BMW featured just such a vehicle on its stand at the Detroit auto show. Prepared to Group 2 touring car specification, the U.S. campaign began when the oil crisis hit in Europe and racing was no longer economically viable.


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The cars used a larger engine than the production car, at 3.5-litres, and the 24v unit produced as much as 430bhp - over double that of the production CSL and similar to that of a brand new BMW M4. Weight dropped to little over a tonne, while wheels were as wide as they were tall at 16in x 16in, shod in racing slicks.

BMW's busy motor show stand meant we couldn't spend as much time pouring over the CSL's details as we'd have liked, but in the Motorsport Division's familiar red, blue and purple racing stripes with polished wheels and a shark-nosed front, BMW's newer models were having a hard time competing for attention.

The CSL's spiritual successor, the BMW M6, will soon be competing for itself in international motorsport, replacing the Z4 as BMW's FIA GT3 car of choice. Will it have the same wow-factor as the CSL? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.




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