The Machine /// 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’.

One of the most famous and revered touring car racers in history, the BMW 3.0 CSL propelled BMW to the forefront of global motor racing. Known affectionately as the ‘Batmobile’ for its outlandish aerodynamics, it was the first racing project of BMW M GmbH.

Based on the E9 saloon, the road-going CSL was a homologation special in the purest sense. The ‘L’ stood for ‘light’, with reduced weight the core of the car’s ethos. The body was made of thinner steel, aluminium panels were used and Perspex replaced glass in the side windows. The car came with a spectacular rear wing, but it was delivered in the boot; spoilers were illegal on German roads.

Hans Stuck attacks the Nürburgring. In the mid 1970s, there were few better weapons than the 3.0 CSL.

Hans Stuck attacks the Nürburgring. In the mid 1970s, there were few better weapons than the 3.0 CSL.

On track, the Batmobile was a huge success. With a 3.15 litre engine, fins along the wheel arches, a huge front air dam and that famous spoiler, it was a brutally effective machine. Amongst its honours are victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 1973, ’75, ’76, ’77, ’78 and ’79 European Touring Car titles. Perhaps most importantly of all, though, was its key role in building the motorsport legacy BMWs today all benefit from.

The Moment /// Establishment of BMW Motorsport GmbH, 1972.

Though BMW had been involved in motor racing activities pre-1972, the formation of an official Motorsport division on May 1st 1972 was a turning point for the company. The brand’s sports heritage grew and grew. At the end of the decade, the success on track with the 3.0 CSL, 2002 Turbo and as an engine supplier in Formula 2 was brought to the road with first fully-fledged M car; the M1. It was in the seventies that the famous stripes made their debut, too. With the white and blue of Bavaria matched to red – in deference to a sponsorship deal that eventually didn’t come to fruition – through violet, the brand image was cemented for generations to come.

The Maestro /// Jochen Neerpasch.

Jochen Neerpasch came to BMW in 1972 as an ex-driver turned manager with one aim; success. Neerpasch, as the first CEO of BMW M GmbH – then known as BMW Motorsport GmbH – took BMW’s participation in motorsport to the top level with the 3.0 CSL. Neerpasch wasn’t done there; he spearheaded the creation of the BMW Junior Team – celebrating its 30th year in 2017 – and the iconic BMW M1, too.

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