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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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  •   CFB18705 reacted to this post about 7 months ago
    BMW ART CARS / #Frank-Stella : #BMW-3.0CSL / #BMW-E9 / #Kugelfischer-Injection-System / #Kugelfischer / #BMW-E9-Frank-Stella / #BMW-3.0CSL-E9 / / #Art-Cars / #BMW

    Never mind the fine artwork on the bodywork, underneath Stella’s geometric lines this #CSL packed a mighty turbocharged punch.

    The second of BMW’s Art Cars was another CSL and technically this machine was the brainchild of the then-head of #BMW-Motorsport , Jochen Neerpasch. It came about as a result of rule changes for the #1976 season which would have seen the factory works CSLs effectively detuned for the more stringent Group 2 regulations which demanded a return to smaller aerodynamic addenda, wet sump lubrication, and most crucially, a banning of four-valve cylinder heads unless they were used in series production. Neerpasch didn’t take this lying down and decided to strap a pair of turbochargers to the CSL’s engine and take on the dominant Porsche 935s in Group 5.

    In hindsight it might not have been the best idea as the car wasn’t desperately reliable and in the end only raced three times at #Silverstone , #Le-Mans and #Dijon . The Stella CSL used a 3.2-litre version of the twin-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder #M49 / #BMW-M49 unit to which Josef Schnitzer attached a brace of #KKK turbochargers and a Kugelfischer injection system. On the dyno it could crack 1000hp, but it was wound down to develop 750-800hp in race trim in a vain attempt to allow the rest of the car to cope with these monumental forces that it had never been designed to withstand. There was no doubting that it was quick… but on its first outing at Silverstone it lasted just 14 laps before needing a new set of boots that had been vapourised by the engine’s torque and by lap 43 it had retired with a melted transmission.

    At Silverstone the car didn’t yet sport Frank Stella’s geometric patterns but BMW had seen how much interest the Calder CSL had generated at Le Mans the previous year so it commissioned Stella to paint the car for the 1976 running of the endurance classic. With longer gearing for Le Mans the CSL was a monster, allegedly pulling 212mph on the Mulsanne straight – drivers Gregg and Redmond must have been absolute legends – and they managed to put it eighth on the grid. Sadly in the race the inevitable happened and it retired after 23 laps.

    Its last outing was at the last round of the World Makes Championship which was held at the small Dijon circuit in September 1976. By now the turbo CSL sported a reinforced differential, gearbox and halfshafts and was back in the hands of Peterson (who had driven it at Silverstone). In qualifying at least, things at last seemed to be going according to plan as he managed to hold back the phalanx of Porsche 935s to take the top spot on the grid.

    Peterson led from the start and once he’d pulled away from Jacky Ickx’s Martini 935 the boost was wound down until Ickx could maintain the same pace as the CSL but not catch it. However, even this approach didn’t work and on lap 33 the diff turned into a casing full of swarf! A glorious failure then… but just look at, obscenely bulging arches, huge wings and that fantastic livery – what’s not to like?
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Fast orange. Of sixties BMWS the E9 is the most admired of all, and of these the 3.0CSL E9 is the one to have. A potent lightweight homologation special built to allow BMW to enter touring car racing, the CSL has become a legend in the four decades that have followed. However, you won’t see another like this original Irish example... Words by Jack Kingston. Photos by Andrew Pollock.

    / #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 / #BMW / #1972 / #M30 / #BMW-M30

    For those of you old enough to remember the first motoring part-works 'On Four Wheels', a free A2 poster came with one of the issues. It was a full-colour cutaway image of a Group 5 racing #CSL , and it hung on my bedroom wall for years. I later turned it into a banner that now hangs on my garage wall. Such was the allure of that car that I later bought an E9 CSi in silver, which I thoroughly enjoyed for a few years. I now have the opportunity to test this CSL owned by Niall O'Sullivan from Limerick, and to see how much better it is than the standard car.

    There are two features of this CSL that immediately stand out; the registration plate and the colour. 272 CRI was sold in Ireland in 1972, and is the only CSL registered in Ireland from new that we are aware of. Only 500 right-hand-drive cars were produced in 1972/1973 for the British market, and these were more civilised than the stripped-out left-hand-drive versions for the Continent - all RHD cars came equipped with the ‘City Pack', which was also an option on LHD cars. Total production was just 39 more than the 1,000 needed to homologate the CSL for the European Touring Car Championship. Alongside the more sober colours of the period, BMW offered three paint schemes for the truly extrovert - Tiagra Green, Canary Yellow and this Inca Orange version. The strength of this colour reinforces what is arguably one of the most beautiful coupes that BMW have built, spawned from the awkward-looking 2000 CS with its shorter bonnet (only four cylinders) and lack of a full-width grille, sporting only the BMW centre “kidneys". Speaking of colours, the #1972-Le-Mans-CSL was the first of the so-called "Art Cars" (by Calder, Stella and Lichtenstein) that led to a string of unique paint schemes that blended technology, design and art into a successful racing package for BMW.

    One cannot write about the CSL without referring to its racing development, as this is what defines the car and is essentially its raison d'etre - it evolved from the CSi in order to win the European Touring Car Championship in the early seventies. There were a couple of problems that mitigated against the BMWs beating the winning Capris on track: too much weight, a propensity to eat tyres and a feeling of rear- end steer from the independent suspension layout. By hiring the men from Ford who made the Capri a winner, BMW set out to take the ETCC championship. This they did by the use of light weight (hence the name 'Coupe Sport Leicht) and the use of aerodynamic aids to stop the car moving around on track. As these were homologated, the road-going examples had to be to the same specification. So, first was the diet: thinner- gauge steel on the bodywork, aluminium doors, boot and bonnet, thinner glass and a Perspex rear window, a plastic rear bumper, no carpets, no wooden dashboard and, critically today, absolutely no rustproofing of any kind, ensuring that they will rot absolutely everywhere and making the survival rate low and the cost of restoration high. These measures knocked about 3 cwt. (150kg) off the weight, while power from the fuel- injected three-litre straight-six remained the same at just over 200bhp. Aerodynamics were taken care of by adding a deep front spoiler, air splitters on the wings and a roof spoiler that directed air down to a huge rear wing, which could be seen to bend in the middle under the 70lbs of downforce it generated. All this stopped the car sliding about wearing tyres, and tamed its manners enough to finally beat the Capris. The racing versions were nicknamed 'Batmobiles' thanks to their giant boot spoilers, but only just over 100 were delivered in road- going form with the full aero-kit fitted. BMW went on to race the CSL in Group 5 with a turbo engine, aluminium 24-valve head, 750bhp and a top speed of 200mph!

    The period Hella spotlamps tie in perfectly with this car's seventies motorsport character. The bucket-style rear seats are a unique touch.

    The recent mechanical refresh saw the suspension and brakes completely torn down and rebuilt, with all bolts and fasteners going to the zinc platers in the process. The original brake calipers were found to have hairline cracks and had to be replaced, while all rubber bushes were changed. The KW coilovers were built to order using the original struts, due to the E9's relative rarity

    The interior is an interesting combination of 'gentleman's carriage' wood trimmings and competition componentry, but is purposeful and full of character.

    The 3,003cc straight-six is completely standard in Nialis car, but the Bosch fuel-injected mill is good for a smidge over 200bhp and sounds fantastic.


    The good news for owners was that they could buy into all of this racing glamour by simply ordering a CSL from the showroom. Race on Sunday, sell on Monday, as Ford used to say. The British buyers did not favour the extreme specifications of the German lightweights, and the 500 cars delivered in RHD were better kitted out. Because of the unfavourable exchange rate with the Deuchmark the cars worked out at over £7,000, and BMW Concessionaires felt that buyers wouldn't pay this high a price for a stripped out road car, so they were all specified with the additional City Pack, which comprised of a heated rear window, racing steering wheel, Scheel adjustable racing seats, Boge shocks, stainless-steel bumpers, black undercoating, an interior light, sound-proofing, carpeting, a luggage compartment mat, power steering, tinted glass, electric rear windows, a tool kit and an internal locking bonnet. The aero accessories weren't homologated until 1973, and could be ordered as a BMW aftermarket accessory (‘racing kit'). The doors, boot lid and bonnet had aluminium skins and were very easily dented, a hand in the wrong place when closing them being enough to cause damage.

    Alpina strut brace and Ground Control top-mounts combine with KW coilovers to get the most out of that famous chassis.

    The glorious BBS E55 wheels have been stepped up to seventeen-inch on the back and sixteen-inch on the front, in the spirit of the over-the-top DTM racers of old.

    The competition aerodynamic parts homologated by the CSL weren't part of this car's spec when new, but are very-much a part of this model's story and look great in this application.
    Niall's car, chassis no. 2285018, is a rare survivor of that batch. Mr John Hynes of Baldonnel, Dublin purchased the car, which was English registered and was an early ‘drive back' car. As a marketing exercise when BMW GB launched the CSL, BMW Concessionaires invited 50 dealers to Munich on the 9th and 10th of October 1972. After a boozy night, the next day a CSL was brought to the hotel on a traditional Bavarian horse and cart with the staff in traditional dress. The dealers, who had been able to choose the colour of the car they wanted, were then given their individual cars to ‘‘drive back" to the UK. The CS register have identified quite a few of these cars from their date of first registration in the UK being the 11th of October, and the BMW Classic certificate for this car confirms that it was originally delivered to BMW Concessionaires and registered (date of delivery on the cert) on 11th October. Each dealer got the car to use as a customer demonstrator before the car was sold to the public. At that time the CSL cost more than twice the price of a V12 E-Type (and £1,000 more than a semi-detached house), thus ensuring their extreme rarity on these shores. Precious as it was, Mr Hynes had no problem in racing the car in period. It was fitted with a roll cage (now removed), and driven to races in Mondello and Kirkstown, where it acquitted itself very well by knocking three seconds off the lap record! In 1975 came its crowning glory though, when it won the Dunlop Hawthorn Trophy in the Phoenix Park. Niall is keen to trace any photographs and history of this car during this competition period, which can be sent to this magazine for forwarding. However, ‘The Park' was not the last time it was brought to a racetrack - it was regularly driven from Dublin to Monte Carlo for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the typically 600-mile run from Paris to Monaco being dispatched in about six hours. I'll leave you to do the maths on average speed, but the CSL could top out at 130mph... This really was a supercar of its day, soaking up the miles of autoroutes in comfort and civility. The everyday Renault and Peugeot drivers could only blink in awe as this bright orange projectile streaked past!

    The service history of the car records that it was regularly maintained in the seventies by Frank Reilly Motors in Rathmines up to 108,000 miles, with many of the parts sourced from long-time BMW gurus Jaymic of Norfolk, England. In 1981 it was brought to Marbella in Spain, where it was used sparingly, racking up only 1,500 miles in ten years. It aged well in the sunshine, but a few years after returning to Ireland it started to show signs of cosmetic deterioration and was entrusted to Robert Andrews Motors in Bangor for a complete mechanical overhaul in 2005. By mid-2006 it was finished, having had an engine rebuild and a new coat of paint. Luckily this car never suffered the rigours of the British salted roads, so the body needed only minimal attention. Some time after this, the car was sold on to only its second Irish owner, who kept it for a short time before selling it to current Limerick owner, Niall O'Sullivan, who also runs another CSL, this one being the E46-series M3.

    In advance of embarking on a full cosmetic restoration in the future, Niall has had some work done to keep the car functional and enjoyable, the work being entrusted to Jon Miller of Classic Carreras in Killaloe, and has taken the opportunity to put his own stamp on the CSL in the process. Practical work like stripping, reconditioning and powder/zinc-coating the suspension and brakes came first, with all new suspension bushings also being put in place. Remanufactured front and rear E9 Alpina strut braces were fitted, and the brake calipers had to be replaced as they were found to be harbouring hairline cracks when stripped. That aggressive, tarmac- sniffing stance has been achieved with a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers, which were built to order using the original struts, and Ground Control camber-adjustable top mounts were added to the front end for further adjustability. The simply glorious wheels evoke both touring car racing and the famous BMW art cars in equal measure - the BBS E50s were custom built using new centres, and are running 8x16-inch rims up front and 9.5x17-inchers out back to really pack out the arches. These RHD City-Pack cars also never came with the spoilers from new, and so these were prepped, painted and fitted by Jon Miller; the front lip, wing-top fins and rear roof spoiler came from Zaprace in the UK, while the boot spoiler is an original BMW item sourced on German eBay. Save for the Schroth harnesses and MOMO Alpina steering wheel, the interior is as it left the works, but this is one of those cars whose dramatic looks belie a short list of modifications.

    The fantastic Scheel seats are factory, but wear Schroth harnesses added by Niall.

    Driving the legend

    So, what are these legendary cars like to drive? The answer is, whatever you want it to be. Slip down into the Scheel bucket seats, twist the key, slip into the first of four gears, and that familiar straight-six just lopes off like any 3-litre CSi; there's no drama, and it's nice and drivable through city traffic. Visibility is great due to the slim pillars, and the large glass area makes the interior almost panoramic, so it's easy to place on the city streets. The clutch is a tad heavy, but the take-up is smooth and the bite is progressive, making for very easy progress. Soon though we are in the country, and the car comes alive. The throttle is stiff and needs a deep push, but the engine responds without hesitation and third gear seems to hang on forever. No matter how unruly the road surface, this car tracks straight and true. The power steering is pin sharp, and nothing will upset it, inspiring immediate confidence in this now 43-year-old car. The chassis is stiff, but the quality uprated suspension soaks up the bumps and the ride comfort is not disturbed in the slightest. There is no bottoming out - the chassis set-up is too clever for that - and the new braking system is perfect, so good that speed is scrubbed off without even noticing it. Time to point towards the motorway. Here, the car shows its other side - it's comfortable, fast, refined (except for a hissing door seal) and relaxing. Everything about this well-maintained car makes it so easy to live with. There's no transmission slack, although the gear lever throws are too long to be rushed. You won't catch the synchros out though, and engagement is positive in a touchy-feely kind of way. Cornering hard does not provoke the front end to wash out in understeer, as the back comes round nicely just at the crossover point. I can see now how these were so good on the track, and really that's exactly where I'd like to take this one. Its racing days may be over, but I thought I heard Niall mention something about a track day... Count me in!

    This CSL doesn't wear the giant 'Batmobile' rear spoiler homologated for the model, but has plenty of drama about it all the same.
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