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  •   CFB18705 reacted to this post about 7 months ago
    BMW Art Cars #Alexander-Calder : 3.0CSL. In the first of a new series looking at BMW’s Art Cars we delve back in the history books to unearth the story behind the first such machine… #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0CSL / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9 / #BMW / #Alexander-Calder / #BMW-E9-Alexander-Calder / #1975 / #BMW-3.0CSL-Alexander-Calder / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9-Alexander-Calder /

    BMW is rightly proud of its collection of #Art-Cars and they’re regularly exhibited around the world in art galleries, but while it is happy to take the plaudits for the range of artists it’s commissioned over the years the first Art Car wasn’t actually a #BMW creation after all. The car you see here was actually commissioned by a wealthy French art dealer and part-time racing driver, Hérve Poulain, after he purchased a Group 2 racing #CSL from BMW Motorsport to compete at Le Mans. He then persuaded his friend, sculptor Alexander Calder, to paint the car in order for it to be a moving work of art at the #1975 24-Hour race.

    Born in 1898 in Philadelphia, the legendary artist Alexander-Calder began his career as an engineer, but art soon won out over engineering and he developed a unique style of sculpture. His often large-scale pieces had a buoyant appeal and were often painted in cheery primary colours. His forte was creating mobile sculptures, combining Calder’s love of art with his knowledge of engineering and, despite the fact that he was primarily a sculptor, Poulain commissioned him to paint the CSL that he was to race at Le Mans.

    It wasn’t Calder’s first foray into painting a machine; in #1973 he painted a passenger jet owned by Braniff South American Airlines and from the experience garnered from this exercise Calder felt he was able to put his own stamp on the CSL. Instead of trying to work with the shape of the car, Calder subjected it to his bold use of colour – bright red, blue and yellow – that didn’t attempt to use the car’s streamlining or overall shape to constrain his view of how it should look. He created a bold design that looks stunning.

    The fact that the car has the mechanical backing and aerodynamic addenda to carry off the colour scheme was the icing on the cake. Under the bonnet was a 3210cc version of the legendary ‘six, it boasted twin overhead cams and four-valves per cylinder and was rated at around 480hp with a top speed, according to BMW, of 180mph.

    Poulain entered the car under his own name and employed the services of well-known endurance racers Sam Posey and Jean Guiche. Perhaps thanks to the depleted field at Le Mans the car qualified well, taking pole position for its class and tenth spot overall on the grid. Strictly speaking the class win should have been a formality for the Calder CSL as its main competition came from another CSL, a brace of Ford Capri 2600s and a Heidegger 2002. However, when it comes to endurance racing there are no such things as certainties. Initially the car ran well and was in fifth position overall but sadly suffered a driveshaft failure after seven hours and was forced to retire leaving the Heidegger 2002 to take the Group 2 class win.

    Despite the car showing promise at #Le-Mans it never raced again as #BMW purchased the car from Poulain and it became the first machine in its #BMW-Art-Car collection. It wasn’t the end for Poulain though, but we’ll come onto that when we look at some of the other #Art-Cars that followed in the ensuing years…
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  •   Elliott Roberts reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    BMW’s iconic #BMW-Art-Cars have been setting hearts a-flutter since #1975 but your chances of actually owning one are pretty much zero. There is, however, little stopping you from building your own… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Patrik Karlsson / #BMW-Art-Car /

    Art Attack E9 and E21 resto-modded Art Car replicas

    The BMW Art Car series is something that’s been capturing the imagination of motoring enthusiasts for generations. It all began in 1975, when French racing driver Hervé Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the 3.0 CSL that he was to drive at Le Mans. Using bold primary colours, Calder transformed the already eye-catching form of the #Group-5 E9 into something that looked like it was rapidly swishing through the scenery even when it was sitting still. It turned out to be one of the last art pieces Calder produced before his death, and in the mid-seventies it was actually a pretty astonishing move to present a car to the world as a work of art; it was, as you might imagine, even more astonishing that the flawless museum piece was then entered in the Le Mans 24hr.

    The Calder Art Car sparked off a chain reaction that resonated through the decades. The following year, Frank Stella painted an E9 CSL; the year after that, Roy Lichtenstein had a go at a Group 5 E21, then it was Andy Warhol’s turn with an M1, with the snowballing project building momentum until it all came to a head with the recently unveiled John Baldessari M6 GTLM, the 18th official #Art-Cars Car .

    Now, there have been quite a lot of other BMWs to be decorated by artists in unusual ways over the years, but these core 18 are the official ones, the bona fide commissioned #Art-Cars . They haven’t all been race cars (David Hockney’s, for example, was an 850CSi and Matazo Kayama’s was an E34 535i), but they have all been devastatingly beautiful and incomparably desirable.

    To BMW’s endless credit, the collection isn’t kept safe and secure in a hermetically sealed and top-secret location – they get toured around the world from Goodwood to Pebble Beach and beyond, and the PR bods even took them on a sort of world tour in 2012 which included a brief but comprehensive exhibition in, er, a multistory car park in Shoreditch (which was very weird, but an utter joy to attend – BMW didn’t publicise it widely, so very few people turned up; those of us that did got to enjoy some rather special alone-time with these magnificent creations).

    But just having a little look-see at the occasional show was never going to be enough for Swedish retro race enthusiast Jonas Nilsson. He had a dream, an all-consuming aspiration, to possess an Art Car of his very own. But obviously BMW would never sell him one, they’re far too valuable, so he was left with just one option: to build his own tribute to these iconic slices of history.

    As you can see here, he got a bit carried away. He hasn’t built one Art Car, but two – and that’s just about pushing the very limits of awesomeness that our brains are able to cope with. So let’s try and piece it together in as logical a way as possible, without our minds dribbling out of our ears at the sheer magnificence of it all…

    “BMWs have been special to me ever since I was a little boy, and our neighbour came driving home in his brand-new E21,” Jonas recalls. “I’ve always thought that they have very nice car models and very good performance.” Yep, no arguments here. And that early infatuation clearly planted a seed, as things have gone a bit nuts in the intervening few decades.

    “The first #BMW I owned was an E36 318iS,” he continues. “It was white, with a subtle body kit – just right for a guy in his twenties.” It wasn’t, we must point out, all about the BMWs for Jonas though, as he’s also pretty keen on Opels. His first car was a Monza GSE, and over the years he’s built some fairly impressive modified examples including a twin-turbo Monza with nitrous and a ’caged, supercharged Kadett GSi on slicks. It’s this passion for brutal performance and race car thrills that ultimately informed what you’re seeing here, allied to that early passion for BMWs. It turned out to be the perfect recipe.

    “It had always been my dream to build an Art Car, so when the opportunity to do it came up, I had to take it,” he says, matter-of-factly. “The Roy Lichtenstein E21 tribute was the first one I built, and when that was finished I felt ready to tackle another one, so I attempted the Frank Stella E9, which was the one I’d really wanted to build all along.” Blimey. He makes this deranged behaviour all sound so normal, doesn’t he? What’s arguably most impressive is that Jonas built up everything you see here himself, as you can’t just nip to Halfords and pick up a Group 5 body kit for an E21. “All the bodywork is made in steel and cannot be bought, so I made it all by myself to a plan I had in my mind,” he explains, like some kind of automotive voodoo shaman.

    “To create these two Art Cars, I actually used four cars,” he goes on. “I took two cars and cut the body from the base, then I took one base and welded it together with the other body, and to make everything fit I had to adjust the length and trim the base car to make everything match up.”

    Looking inside either one should give you a bit of a giveaway as to what resides beneath their respective skins; the E21 is all E36 inside, while the sharknose E9 has an E34 M5 hiding down there. It’s all utterly bonkers, and phenomenally impressive that he’s made it work.

    “I found the E21 at a friend’s place,” says Jonas. “It was in okay condition, but the engine didn’t work.” And what better remedy for a misfiring first-gen 3 Series than to slice the body off, plonk it on to an E36 325i chassis, and bolt on some outrageous retro racer bodywork?

    You’ll spot that the E36’s M50 engine is nestled beneath that colourful bonnet, while the 1990s underpinnings have allowed a little flexibility in upgrading things, which is why you’ll find some serious D2 coilovers in the mix along with 19” wheels. On the whole, though, the spec is relatively mild when you look at just how extreme the E9 ended up becoming.

    “I found the E9 on a car sales website, almost in mint condition,” Jonas grins, plainly unconcerned about chopping the thing up. “Whereas the E21 took about a year to build, this one took more like 18 months as there was a lot more to do.” Part of the reason for this is that he opted to complement the forthright race car looks with some appropriate power in the form of an S38 engine from an E34 M5 (which is the donor car beneath, remember) to which he’s added a Rotrex C38-81 centrifugal supercharger. It’s an astonishingly quick machine, which is just what you would hope for when you look at its angry angles and pointy aero.

    “Every detail and measurement of both cars were made from a model in 1:18 scale, including the wrapping,” Jonas explains, again shrugging off an incredibly complex engineering endeavour as if it’s all in a day’s work, and reducing us to shimmering pools of jealousy in the process. “The Art Car livery is vinyl-wrapped though if money were no object then of course I would have them painted on! And there’s not a part of either car that hasn’t been taken out and perfected before being put back in. I try to do as much as I can by myself, because I love a good challenge!” Well, yes, evidently. The work here really does speak for itself, and while Jonas’ bread-and-butter lies in the mill industry, he hopes one day to transition into building cars like this for a living; a passion that’s currently being fuelled by his new project, a race-inspired, street-legal 635CSi. If all goes well, he could one day be commissioning famous artists to adorn his creations with their colourful daubings… but for now, this pair of Art Car tributes is a fabulous showcase of his skills. BMW may take the official ones out and about, but they don’t tear around in anger like Jonas’ do. As dream two-car garages go, this one really is a work of art.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW #Frank-Stella / #BMW-E9 / #Rotrex / #Rotrex-C38 / #BMW-E9-Frank-Stella / #BMW-E9-Art-Car / #BMW-E9-Art-Car-Replica /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.5-litre straight-six #S38B36 / #BMW-S38 / #S38 , #Rotrex-C38-81 centrifugal supercharger, chargecooler, race aluminium cooler with Evans waterless coolant, Nuke Blackline linear FPR, Nuke fuel rail, #Nuke-Blackline filter, #ECUMaster management, five-speed #Getrag-280 manual gearbox, Tilton racing clutch, modified cardan shaft, 40% locking diff, 2.87:1 final drive, 210 diff housing, forged CrMo driveshafts

    CHASSIS 10x19” (front) and 13x19” (rear) HRE 508 wheels with 265/30 (front) and 345/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, E34 D2 coilovers, D2 Racing big brake kit with eight-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front) and six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Custom handmade all-steel Group 5 bodywork, Frank Stella Art Car tribute livery

    INTERIOR E34 M5 dash, Cobra Misano Anniversary seats, custom-trimmed matching rear seats and doorcards

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Roy-Lichtenstein / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-E21-Roy-Lichtenstein / #BMW-E21-Art-Car / #BMW-E21-Art-Car-Replica / #BMW-Art-Car-Replica / #Art-Car-Replica

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25 / #BMW-M50 / #M50 , five-speed #Getrag manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #Rennsport wheels with 265/30 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo (front) and 325/30 Dunlop Sport Maxx Race (rear) tyres, E36 D2 coilovers, #Powerflex bushes

    EXTERIOR Custom handmade all-steel Group 5 bodywork, #Roy-Lichtenstein-Art-Car tribute livery

    INTERIOR E36 interior blended with original E21
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 4 years ago

    Eight grand. A lot of money, right ? Just think what you could spend it on, assuming you had it going spare. What’s that? It’s still possible to pick up a house, flat or cottage for that kind of money? Not where I live, baby. Besides, if that’s the way you think we’re not speaking the same language. I said ‘spare’.

    How about a whole fleet of 2CVs? Silly person, you can’t drive more than one at once. A modest little yacht, maybe? Schmuck. You really want everyone to know you’ve got maritime tendencies? A fragile Italian car with the vroomiest engine and the most tasteless interior in the whole world? Count me out, moonbeam.

    You know what I’d buy if I had eight grand to play with? I’d buy me one of the sharpest cars in the world. It would be immaculately designed, tastefully finished, beautifully engineered. It would be ridiculously comfortable, it would be fast, smooth and would handle impeccably. Above all, it would be civilised. It would probably be a #BMW-3.0CSi-E9 .

    You heard. A three-litre petrol-injected coupe, fresh off the Bayerische Motoren Werke shelves. It’d be long and blue, preferably a nice metallic turquoise. I’ve got it all figured out. Just the right proportions of glass to steel and enough ‘options’ in the straight package to leave me happy, just playing with the electric windows all day long. Forget the lightweight CSL, with or without the ‘Special’ (stripes and wings) pack. What do you think I am, flash?

    Mind you, I’m luckier than most. Most people can only daydream. Just occasionally, though, some of us get the chance to put it into reality. And I’ve just had a #BMW-3.0CSi for ten days. Yeah, surprise.

    Stroll nonchalantly out to the carpark, a new set of keys clasped in the cleanest hands this side of ‘The Lancet.’ Paranoia begins with a 3.0CSi. Why, people are actually staring at me. Is it that obvious?

    Open the door. Big door, lip till now I’d been asking myself if it really looks like eight grand. Open up that driver’s door and it even smells like eight grand. Sit in, but gingerly. Adjust the seat, bouncing a little in the process. Feels a little hard after countless cheaper makes, but it inspires the feeling that I could drive a million miles (for one of your smiles?) and climb out feeling as relaxed as when I started.

    And relaxed is the only way to describe it. It starts easily, the automatic choke sensing itself into operation. The clutch is light enough to require effortless operation, heavy enough to let you know it’s there. Into gear — slightly notchy, but nothing to worry about — and the clutch comes in as smoothly as an encyclopaedia salesman’s patter. A squeeze on the accelerator, the merest touch on the power-assisted steering and I’m moving. Can it really be that easy? You mean some people actually drive like this all the time?

    Ridiculous. It feels as if I’ve been driving it all my life. Snick, snick, difficult to stay cool about a car that feels this good. I must remove the smug look, I’ll be spotted as a masquerading upstart easy as pie. Snick, snick, I don’t even need to overtake people properly. They are actually moving out of the way. Ridiculouser and ridiculouser. There’s got to be a good reason for flooring the throttle — hell, who needs one. And guess what ? It's got to be one of the smoothest engines I’ve ever whizzed round the rev band. Easy, solid power, all the way round. Next time out I’m going to need a neck brace.

    Journey’s end before I’ve even realised I’ve started. This is getting serious. I thought motoring was supposed to be fun. This is a whole new ball game. No sweat, just complete relaxation. I figure I’m as comfortable as I’m ever likely to be, in a car as close to perfect as I’d ever want it to be.

    The interior’s just fine. Cloth upholstered seats, nice drop of quality carpet. Not a great deal of legroom in the back, but sit an ordinary mortal in the hot seat and by the law of averages he’d have to move it forward a good six inches.
    You’ll never find a fascia like this on, say, a Japanese car. It’s not overdone, there’s nothing flashy about it, it's just all there and in the right place. Steering column's adjustable for length, and the trimming can’t be faulted — even all that wood's real. The four big instruments — speedometer, rev counter, clock and I multipurpose gauge — tell me all I want to know. Quickly, easily, and without distracting me. I have all the controls I need at my fingertips, and incidental switches are never far away.

    The electric window rocker switches, for instance, are set on either side of the gearstick. Two each side, one each for back and front windows. Slow the windows may be, but strong enough to crack a walnut; should you feel the need.

    They seem to sum the whole thing up, really. They didn't have to be that good — a perhaps cheaper installation would have been perfectly adequate. But BMW have left nothing to chance, and everything is just that bit beefier than it need be, just to make sure.

    (One good reason for the strength is that in a true pillarles coupe such as this, sealing and wind noise could be something of a problem. They aren’t. But I do wish there wasn’t a duplicate pair of switches for the rear seat passengers to play with. Sod it, they’ve got seatbelts already.)

    I’m simply not interested in finding fault. I could criticize the speaker grille for flimsiness, but then you don’t normally let Dron loose in a car, hellbent on seeing which bits come off. Besides, the VHF radio more than compensates. Slightly less forgivable, though, are the steering wheel vibration and location of ashtrays. The ashtrays, set in the doors, are almost impossible to manage without double joints, certainly without taking your eyes of the road. And invariably the ash is blown off long before it drops in. Ah well, suppose I could always give up smoking.

    And back on the road. The complete smoothness. In every respect, of the thing is quite staggering. Driven the apparent gaps between the gears — at certain speeds! I’m aware of a feeling that I’m too fast for the gear I’m in, yet too slow for the next one up. It disappears quickly, the flexibility and torque of the injected straight straight six taking care of any doubts on my part. An automatic box is the real answer, although the change in carburation means losing a few brake horsepower.

    And at speed the thing’s equally disquieting. The amazing power-assisted steering is second to none I’ve encountered, with a light but positive feel right the way from a traffic crawl to the 130-odd top speed, wet or dry. I’ll repeat that: wet or dry.

    The #M30 2985cc 222bhp SAE (200bhp DIN) engine ( #M30B30 ) pulls smoothly right up to 6400rpm, and a top speed of 136mph. Accelerating up to the limit, speeds through the gears are truly astonishing. First gear will see 38mph, second’s good for 65 (0-60mph in 7 ½ secs), and third runs out at 102mph. So much for the once-magic ton. All this, and the fuel consumption between 20 and 25mpg. Or even better, driven carefully.

    And you know the real turn on? That tremendous feeling of absolute confidence. Of knowing that those great big discs all round will haul it to a stop with no apparent effort. With the redesigned suspension (‘for ride comfort’) and stronger torsion bars front and rear, the handling’s as neutral as you’ll find anywhere, the minimal understeer turned into power oversteer at a touch of the throttle.

    It’s all too easy to break the law in a car like this. Safety at speed is one thing, but when there’s virtually no sensation of speed it really does make a nonsense of a 30mph limit.

    I could carry on eulogising for hours, but I keep coming back to that price tag. Assuming that a #BMW 2002 is worth close on three grand (and it is, every penny), is there really five thousand’s difference ? Mixed feelings here on the staff. Some say yes, others an emphatic no. All depends on your social standing, aspiration and means. And since none of us figures anywhere in those terms of reference, we’d all have difficulty justifying a £7,870 cheque for the sheer pleasure the car gives.

    The specifications are interesting, but largely academic here. Anyone buying the car doesn’t need to know the grubby bits, and anyone merely daydreaming has got the pix to drool over. If you really want to know, check them out with your local dealer. We’ve a few more photographs we’d like to use, on the assumption that they tell a whole lot more about the car than a few thousand more hysterical words.

    One thing’s for sure, though. I now have a whole new set of standards to measure other, less outstanding cars against. Things will never be the same again.
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