- Post is under moderationShark Hunting
CAR: 1981 BMW 323i TOP CABRIO
OWNER: Sanjay Seetanah
/ #1981 / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW / #M20B23 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW / #BMW-323i-Baur / #BMW-323i-Baur-E21 / #BMW-323i-Baur-Cabriolet / #BAUR / #1981-BMW-323i / #1981-BMW-323i-E21 / #1981-BMW-323i-Baur / #Bosch-K-Jetronic
Have you heard classic BMWs described as ‘sharknose’? Sharknose-era BMWs were manufactured from the 1960s through to the late ’80s and represent a crucial period in BMW’s history. They can be as different as they are similar. Some were built for racing, some were built for families.
Some featured cutting-edge technology, others were a little more basic. What brings them together is a common design aesthetic. They range from the Neue Klasse models of the ’60s through to the M1 and E28 (the second-generation 5-series), taking in the CSA, CS and CSLs and the earlier 3-, 5-, 6- and 7-series along the way.
Now the #BMW-Car-Club has introduced a new umbrella group called the Sharknose Collection, and I was delighted to be asked to attend a gathering of cars from this collection to produce a video for the club’s website. As club secretary Richard Baxter says: ‘These cars are now becoming sought after yet finding parts and specialists can be difficult. The Sharknose section of the club aims to give cars and owners a collective platform at shows, to help with parts and accessories, to share technical days, and allow networking with fellow owners.’
The pressure was on to get my Baur looking as good as possible, given the company that it was going to be with. I contacted Joseph Crowe, owner of Knowl Hill Performance Cars in Maidenhead (www.knowlhill. com), and he obligingly ensured that the car was machine polished to look its best.
Gathered together for the shoot were some of the very best examples of sharknose BMWs in the UK. In the picture, above, from left to right are Stu and Lizzy Blount’s grey #BMW-E28 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E28 , Tony Wilkes’ beige #BMW-E3 , Georg Champ’s red #BMW-2002 , Sam Lever’s blue #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 , Trevor Gude’s white #BMW-E12 / #BMW-M535i-E12 , my own BMW-323i Baur Top Cabrio and Kos Ioizou’s beautiful red #BMW-635CSi-E24 . I was amazed at the depth of knowledge and passion for the cars shown by all the owners – the future of these classics is safe in their hands.
The Club is looking for ownership and restoration stories to share in its monthly publication Straight Six and hopes to attract owners of cars not yet known about. Cars from the Sharknose Collection will be on show at several events this year, including Masters at Brands Hatch on 26-27 May; Sharknose Europe at Rosmalen, Holland, on 23 June; Silverstone Classic on 20-22 July and the club’s National Festival on 12 August at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. There’s more info at www.bmwcarclubgb.uk and I hope I will get along to at least one or two in the Baur.
Above and below Sharknose Collection members lined up some of the UK’s finest examples, including Sanjay’s 323i Baur cabriolet.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationClassics at La Sarthe The biennial gathering for the #2016-Le-Mans-Classic always attracts some stunning BMWs. If you’re keen on classic racing you really should take a trip down memory lane at the biennial Le Mans Classic Words: Jeroen de Laat. Photography: De Laat Foto / #Le-Mans-Classic
Once a year the streets of #Le-Mans and surrounding villages combine together to create one of the longest and most demanding race circuits in the world. Although the shape and length of the track has been modified several times over the past century, the Circuit de la Sarthe has been hosting a 24-hour motor race here since 1923. The track’s basis is formed by the pit straight and some other parts of the short permanent Bugatti circuit, including the legendary Esses chicane and the iconic Dunlop Bridge. But the larger part consists of roads that are open to the public for the rest of the year, making a total length of 13.6km in its current shape. The fact that 85 percent of the lap is spent at full throttle makes it a fast track that is extremely demanding for man and machine. This is part of the appeal for teams, drivers and spectators alike, and one of the reasons why this amazing circuit is almost celebrating its 100th anniversary.
With the ever-increasing number of spectators, as well as the extensive safety measures required to turn roads into a race track, the event requires a lot of preparation. And that is what caused French classic event organiser Patrick Peter to have a brainwave approximately a decade ago. Why not benefit from all these efforts and have a classic race on this temporary track as well? The operator of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO), liked the idea and Le Mans Classic was born.
The event has a 24-hour format, although realistically we cannot expect the legendary and often priceless racers of yesteryear to compete for 24 hours, so the past century of motoring is divided into six eras making six classes, so cars can compete with their contemporary rivals. Each grid performs several one-hour stints over a period of 24 hours, so in total there is 24 hours of continuous and varied action.
The 2016 Le Mans Classic was the eighth running of this classic event. Taking place every other year it is blessed with a booming public interest that resembles the original 24-hour race. And just like that event, there were a series of support events to get the public warmed up. These included: close to 40 Group C cars racing, including 20 of Porsche’s legendary 962; the Jaguar Classic Series, which saw 19 times 24-Heures participant Andy Wallace win at the wheel of the D-Type which won the race in 1955 (driven by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb); and Little Big Mans, where the kids do their own race in miniature versions of the actual Le Mans cars, complete with a running Le Mans start and driven by real petrol engines. There’s also a great car auction, while the exceptionally sunny and warm weather completed this year’s package.
It was no wonder then that a record 123,000 spectators flocked to the circuit to see 550 cars, 1000 drivers (among them ten former Le Mans winners) and 8500 club cars on display. The event saw a celebration of BMW’s centenary in the form of popular club sessions, which allowed club members the rare opportunity of doing a few laps on the official circuit, and BMW demos, which featured BMW M cars ranging from the earliest cars up to the most recent models. We were very happy to get a few passenger laps to experience the track in its full glory!
In BMW’s exhibition we found several special cars including: the legendary #BMW-328-Touring-Le-Mans ; a 507 Roadster; the 1977 Roy Lichtenstein E21 320i Art Car (that participated in the 1977 Le Mans race); and the V12 LMR that took the overall victory in 1999.
Need more? How about the prestigious Concours Le Mans Heritage Club for cars that actually raced at Le Mans awarding the McLaren F1 GTR with a best in class award for the 1983-2016 period? And all this was on offer even before the racing began in earnest!
On the Saturday afternoon Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, main sponsor Richard Mille (main partner of Le Mans Classic with EFG), and Pharrell Williams opened the event under the supervision of FIA president Jean Todt. The event started off with the oldest cars in ‘Plateau One’. A Swiss gentleman we have seen racing BMWs many times before, Christian Traber (who is well-known behind the steering wheel of a 2002 and an #BMW-M1-E26 / #BMW-E26 ), was now racing against BMW.
Together with the American former SCCA driver, Spencer Trenery, they steered their 1939 Talbot Lago to first position overall, with another Talbot right behind them, relegating the BMW 328s to third and fourth places; the French équipe Bally/Leseur took third with the German 328 team Otten and Horbach not far behind. In total nine 328s took part. It was amazing to see so many of these cars on track at one time, and it gave us a real feeling for what club racing must have been like in the late 1930s.
Apart from the BMW engines in several prototype cars from the 1960s and 1970s, especially the #M10 and #M12 four-cylinder, we saw a #BMW-2002 in action. The Group 2 2002Ti of Renavand and Bonny completed the event without issue and even though there was no fighting the mighty Lola T70s and the M12-powered Chevrons, they duo stood their ground in their own class.
More BMW action was to be had when the ‘Plateau Six’ cars entered the arena. Two wonderful #BMW-E9 3.0 CSL Coupés caught our eye. Adrian Brady had a disappointing event when he ran into issues with his CSL during qualifying. Even though the mechanics thought it was only a head gasket failure they didn’t want to take any risks with the rare #BMW-M49 engine and parked the car up for the rest of the event. The second #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 driven by Werginz/Janits/Andree/Huber failed after just two laps into race two. We spoke to Andree afterwards and learned that a broken con rod bolt unfortunately ruined their event. It was a pity after seeing so many CSLs being successful run at other events.
In grid number six we saw some flame-spitting Lola prototypes, although when it came to BMWs spitting flames, the M1 immediately comes to mind. Christian Traber was fastest of his class with his M1 but two other M1s also completed the event without any issues.
Every edition of Le Mans Classic is bigger and better than the previous one, and this eighth running of the event was no exception. It was a wonderful experience. The only down side is that we now need to wait two years for the next one. We recommend that you make a note in your diary to keep some days free in July 2018!
Lovely #BMW-507 and V12 LMR were exhibited in the BMW pavilion; this year’s event was opened by Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, Richard Mille, Pharrell Williams and Jean Todt.
Mixed grids add to the glamour of the Le Mans Classic.
Right: BMW-engined Lola caught in wonderful flame-spitting action.
Above: Superb #BMW-2002-Ti-Group-2 car of Renavand and Bonny went very well in ‘Plateau 5’ but couldn’t hope to keep up with the Lolas, Porsches and Ferraris in its class. Below and Left: #BMW owners had the rare chance to drive the full Le Mans circuit in their road-going cars during the event.
Even though they never won the event the #BMW-M1 is always linked with Le Mans – they competed here for eight consecutive years from 1979 to 1986 – and Christian Traber’s example (above, seen leading a Ferrari 512 BB LM) was as quick as ever being the fastest M1 in its class. Below: The Latham and Baud M1 looking great with driving lights fitted.
Above: Little Big Mans sees children competing in scaled down replicas complete with the traditional Le Mans running start! Left: Stunning (full-size) #BMW-328 pulling away from the start.
The Roy Lichtenstein #BMW-E21 / #BMW-320i-Art-Car that took part in the 1977 Le Mans race looked as fantastic as ever – what a machine!
Sadly both the CSLs entered this year suffered engine troubles but we know they’ll be back to fight another day.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFast 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.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL-Schnitzer-E9 / #Schnitzer-E9 / #Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #1972
Ecuadorian Gold. The story behind a Schnitzer E9 Coupé that was once a racer, was turned into a road car, and has now been restored back to a race car. Originally a Schnitzer Touring Car, then a road car, and now a glorious homage to the original, this is the story of how a clapped-out road car was changed back into a Schnitzer Batmobile! Words and photography: Robb Pritchard.
I have seen plenty of front gardens with strange ornaments like gnomes and miniature windmills but this house in Ecuador, on the slopes of the huge Cotopaxi volcano, has the best lawn decoration I’ve ever seen: an original Schnitzer BMW 3.0L CSi. The winged beast takes pride of place at Alfredo Cevalles’ house, right next to the front door and ornamental fountain. In resplendent gold and gleaming chrome trim it is, in my opinion, as gorgeous as BMWs come. And it has a long life history, too.
The original owner was Marco Vivanco, who back in the ’60s and ’70s was a famous Ecuadorian race car driver. That might sound like a contradiction in terms but actually this diverse little country touching the Pacific, Andes and Amazon has a rich history of motorsport. There was the 1000 miles of Lagarto, the South American equivalent of the Mille Miglia, and a huge 15-day rally around the country called the Vuelta de Republica. Marco, at the wheel of a modified BMW 2002, won both of these.
For many years he was known for driving the small but nimble 2002ti which, at considerable cost, he upgraded to run with a Schnitzer tuned engine. Ecuador has some of the most prohibitive importation restrictions in the world so anything brought across the border costs a serious amount of money. That engine cost enough on its own but when he bought the 3.0L CSi direct from Schnitzer it was, in 1972, the most expensive car ever imported into South America.
It wasn’t just a road car taken into the workshop and tuned by the German racing team. One of only a known 38 made, it’s a full specification Group 2 Schnitzer car. This was the year before Jochen Neerpasch joined the team from rival Ford and took the 3.0 CSL to the heights of glory with legendary drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Henri Pescarolo, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, Bob Wollek and Hans Stuck behind the wheel. Thoroughly trounced by the Capris in 1972 the CSi doesn’t have such a good race track pedigree as its successor, which is one reason it now sports the stunning Group 5 flares instead.
The CSi didn’t particularly shine in the European Touring Car Championship… and it also didn’t quite live up to Marco’s high expectations either. Being designed for the fast and flowing European circuits a generation before chicanes were the norm, it wasn’t well suited for the twisting Ecuadorian mountain roads that the local races took place on. The first time he competed he had problems with the LSD overheating as its design perimeters were never intended for dozens of tight mountain hairpins.
Engineers from Schnitzer made him a one-off upgrade, a much tougher differential that could cope with the extra friction. But the biggest problem was that the main performance of the car came at 9000rpm… and in the local competitions he could never get up to high enough speeds to stretch its legs. He needed something with the power and torque in the lower end but couldn’t bring himself to sell such a special car and see it raced in someone else’s hands, so it was put into storage.
There is a very strange and unpopular law in Ecuador that only allows one-year-old cars to be imported and it is a rule that has stood for decades, so each and every classic car on the roads here has lived here since new. It also means that Ecuador has the accolade of being the most expensive place in the world to buy a car. As an example of how absurd the prices are I found a knackered Chevrolet equivalent of a Vauxhall Chevette with 600,000 miles on it… for £3200… which was a factor in why Marco took the BMW back out of the garage in the mid- 1980s and decommissioned it into a road car. The Schnitzer engine was far too beastly to drive in the city so it was taken out and replaced with a production CSL one. The original was sold over the border in Colombia to a man called Juan Montoya. If that name sounds familiar, it probably is: he sold it to Juan-Pablo Montoya’s father!
The roll-cage came out, rear seats went in, road tyres and wheels went on and, most sadly of all, the body kit was taken off… which is why in 2008 Alfredo’s brother Paul didn’t immediately trip over himself when he saw the car parked behind a garage on the outskirts of Quito. With the gorgeous 2002 and ‘81 E21 323i in the garden, obviously the brothers have a love for BMWs, which is why in 2008 Paul left a note on the window enquiring if it might be for sale. Marco called back with an asking price of $4500 and because of the smoking engine and general state of what looked like a normal road car Alfredo almost passed the opportunity up… until, on a whim, he looked up the VIN number on the internet. Wondering why he couldn’t find anything he searched a little more and suddenly he was looking at photos of the car in its former Schnitzer glory! It was with a shaking hand and pounding heart he called Marco up again.
In Marco’s garage there was a collection of old race posters, trophies and an amazing photo of the car doing 280km/h on a mountain road. Alfredo’s mind swirled with the possibilities and problems the rebuild would entail. The most important thing for Marco was passing the car on to someone who was going to restore it properly… and who knew what a massive undertaking that would be in a country where you cannot import second-hand car parts. Alfredo had suitable experience, though, (as his 1956 Austin Healey 100 and Porsche 944 attest to) so, coughing and spluttering, the BMW was driven home and Alfredo’s biggest project started.
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is some 3000 metres above sea level so the air is quite dry. That helped keep the bodywork corrosion free but the aluminium outer door skins needed changing as the originals were badly dented and poorly repaired. This was an original sport part and apparently was rather expensive – which is definitely a continuing feature of this restoration. Getting the coils and Bilstein shocks for the rear suspension was a cool $4000; the front was only slightly cheaper. The rear spoiler was $3000 on its own. The German company that makes them doesn’t deal direct with Ecuador so Alfredo had to order it via an American company, multiplying the initial purchase cost. For the body kit, which he bought off eBay in Ireland, he didn’t even want to tell me how much it cost, but shipping alone was a fourfigure sum, and then for the import taxes another 35 per cent was added, and then 12 per cent VAT. He could have made it a period-correct Group 2 car but the extended arches and spoilers for the Group 5 version are both cheaper and easier to find… so he built himself a Batmobile. The front winglets on the front of the wings are from an original Group 5 car, an eBay find that Alfredo is quite proud about.
The dog-leg Getrag gearbox had been in the car since new and was one of the easiest things to be reconditioned. All it needed was a couple of bearings and an input shaft machined locally to fit. A much harder job, though, was replacing the cracked and chipped glass; unable to source original items Alfredo had to use a company in America to make a pair from scratch. All the lights, aluminium trim and dozens of hard-to-find small details that Alfredo had no hope of finding in Ecuador are from Wallothnesch in Germany – a company he has spent the best part of €15,000 with!
The seats are Scheel replicas that he also had to have made. The authentic retro-look was important and after failing twice to get sets imported from Europe, the only way to get a period-accurate pair was to have them handmade by a company in America. Yes, they were expensive.
After years of being exposed to the harsh sun the wooden trim had deteriorated so Alfredo hired a local wood master to recondition it. The cedar wood BMW used wasn’t available in Ecuador so this was yet another thing Alfredo needed to work on in order to get customs clearance for.
Now it looks as good as the day it came out of the Munich factory. The brakes are all period-correct but with new discs all-round, reconditioned callipers and Ferodo pads.
Generations of mechanics skilled in keeping old bangers running meant that the engine work could be done locally. Although it started life as a standard road-spec engine Alfredo put a lot of effort into making it as strong and as powerful as he could and had a big shopping list from VAC USA including rockers, double springs, titanium retainers, a Schrick cam, high compression pistons, machined head, ceramic coated header, 0.45 Webers, and a metallic head gasket. The car is now rated at 260hp. It’s still a long way from the 340hp that the original car had but a reconditioned Schnitzer engine is a cool $90,000 before the horrendous importation costs, so the tuned standard one is staying for the foreseeable future. The exhaust is another Schnitzer part… and an important one, too, because the sound this beauty makes when revved up is absolutely glorious!
Absolutely deafening and annoying for the neighbours, especially as it sounds quite similar to the local volcano erupting. But glorious…
The painstaking and painfully expensive rebuild took seven years but Alfredo thinks it’s well worth it. He enjoyed his collection of road cars before but wasn’t content to just drive this one. He had to race it, although Marco, now in his 80s tried to persuade him not to. “I don’t race it to win,” Alfredo smiles. “I just do it to hear the engine and show off the car. Besides I can only drive it at special events because with the spoilers it’s too low to get over the speed bumps in the city. I couldn’t even get it out past the security gates in my housing compound! Marco is always nervous when I drive it but he knows that the car means almost as much to me now as it does to him.”
This is a car that was designed to go fast, though, so at classic events like the Eleckta Rally Alfredo doesn’t hold back too much. “At high speed the car is solid and with the stiff suspension and short-ratio steering it’s very nice to drive… especially with the engine noise echoing off the mountains.”
So far Alfredo has put approximately $52,000 into the project, which isn’t actually that much for something of this quality and pedigree, but it’s not quite finished yet and there are a few details that Alfredo wants to include. The main thing is that the eight-year long hunt for original Schnitzer wheels to replace the set of BBSs doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon. Marco still has one, but it’s being used as a table support in his living room! So although it’s not complete just yet, Alfredo still needs to be applauded for bringing this car to the stunning condition it is now in.
“I don’t race it to win. I just do it to hear the engine and show off the car”
The Schnitzer Coupé as it was back in the day being campaigned by Marco Vivanco. He’d been hugely successful in his 2002 but the CSi proved less suitable for Ecuadorian events.
It took a long time and a lot of money but Alfredo is now able to compete in the #Schnitzer-CSi in classic events in Ecuador where he loves the way it drives and the noises it makes.
Above: The CSi had been converted back to a road car when Alfredo first came across it but he knew that he wanted to restore it back to a race car and so the long task began.
Alfredo’s mind swirled with the possibilities and problems the rebuild would entail.
“It’s very nice to drive… especially with the engine noise echoing off the mountains”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE #2016 #BMW-CSL-Hommage /// #BMW-CSL-Hommage-R /// Reinvented /// It seems like only a couple of months ago that BMW thrust the Golf yellow 3.0 CSL Hommage on us at the Villa d’Este but it’s been reimagined for Pebble Beach as the R version to celebrate 40 years of #BMW in North America.
Back in 1975 BMW of North America was born and as luck would have it BMW had the perfect machine in its arsenal for the fledgling new importer to take to the race track, the glorious #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 #Batmobile . Just a few weeks after BMW NA was formed the CSL took its debut win at the 12 Hours of Sebring and this was followed by a string of successes, including a win at Laguna Seca, a scant 15 miles from where BMW revealed its latest take on the CSL Hommage. “Motor racing is all about the ability of cars to mesmerise, about the unbridled joy of driving,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “And as such it represents the heartbeat of BMW. Back in 1975, as today, winning races came down to how man and machine could work together. Technical innovations have taken the effectiveness of this partnership to ever greater heights. And with the #BMW-3.0-CSL-Hommage R we’re aiming to show how much closer the driver and car can grow in the future.”
While the exterior has been given a makeover from the version that was revealed a few months ago with a new paint job, complete with M Colours, the number 25 (the original CSL’s number it wore in 1975 ) and a smattering of carbon fibre, it’s in the inside that BMW has really gone to town with the Hommage R. BMW reckons it’s all about the “seamless integration of the driver into the car” and that its designers “extrapolated the principle of driver focus beyond the geometric form of the interior.” If all that sounds a little bit like mumbo-jumbo designer speak there are actually some pretty cool aspects to the car’s interior design.
BMW says its designers started with the driver’s helmet, race suit and seat before moving onto other interior elements and while this might sound a tad wild, once you start to appreciate what it has done it is actually rather clever. The helmet’s visor has taken on the functions of a head-up display and items such as the car’s speed, gear engaged and engine revs are projected directly into the driver’s line of sight. BMW reckons the race suit itself expresses the connection between the wheel and the driver, and if both hands are on the wheel illuminated piping integrated into the sleeves of the suit shows the progress of information – from the shift display for example – out of the steering column over the driver’s arms and into the visor.
The carbon seat shells are actually part of the car’s structure and allow the driver to feel a real connection with the car and the carbon roll cage is also clearly visible demonstrating not only the car’s lightweight philosophy but its minimalist geometry, too. Like the first version of the Hommage there’s a nod to the original CSL with the sliver of wood that adorns the dash but for this R version it also contains additional information illuminated through the wood. Recalling the 3.0 CSL’s victory at Laguna Seca in May 1975, the #BMW-3.0CSL-Hommage-R displays the track layout and braking points through the instrument panel’s wood strip. By using light in this way, this ultra-sophisticated, super-smooth information display removes the need for a classic dashpod to display the car’s vital statistics and slips perfectly into the car’s minimalist interior design philosophy. Externally the car’s pretty much as per the Golf yellow Hommage, although the styling of the kidney grilles has been changed (for the better) and at their base is a section of carbon fibre and M tri-colour stripes. It’s amazing how changing a car’s colour scheme and detailing can change the way you feel about it and while we were a little underwhelmed by the styling of the first Hommage we have to say we’re rather taken with this version. Some elements still look a little forced but as an overall concept it looks pretty good… even if we’d still like to see the return of smaller kidney grilles on just about all of BMW’s current range!
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- Post is under moderationIconic #1972 Batmobile at auction / #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSi-Batmobile-CSL-FIA-Gp4-Race-Car / #BMW
WITH AN ESTIMATE OF BETWEEN £130-£150K, GETTING YOUR HANDS ON THIS FIA GROUP 4 BATMOBILE IS A BMW ENTHUSIAST’S DREAM!
Spotted up for grabs at H&H’s Imperial War Museum Duxford sale last month, this genuine Batmobile CSL racecar, which has been campaigned for 30 years, was earmarked for a new racing owner.
The brochure information for Lot 77 was a mammoth read in itself. This #Batmobile was constructed in 1981 around a 3.0 CSi shell by BMW racing guru Chris Randall of Zaprace for his own use. For a while it passed into the hands of Tim Busby who, among other things, switched it from right to left-hand drive and campaigned it in the iconic Luigi racing colours. Following Busby's death, Randall bought the car back and re-engineered It before selling the BMW to Nick Whale.
Whale is known to have invested a lot of money in the car with #Techspeed-Motorsport , which equipped it with all the correct brake and suspension components, plus air jacks, centre lock wheels and a reliable Lester Owen engine that produced some 350bhp running on #Kugelfischer fuel injection. He and Ian Guest successfully raced the BMW throughout Europe for 10 years, running it in both Patrick Peter’s Endurance Series and the Masters championship for Post-Historic Touring Cars. They also finished first in Plateau B of the 2006 Le Mans Classic.
In #2010 the car was acquired by the vendor who ran it last year in the Masters and Legends Series, paired with Chris Conoley of #MASS-Racing . They achieved fourth overall and first in class in the Masters at Donington, third overall and first in class in the Legends at Donington, fifth overall and class winners at Legends at Portimao and overall winners in the JD Classics Challenge.
This Batmobile made £134,400 at auction and was sold complete with #FIA HTP papers and numerous spares and is eligible for the #2012 #Le-Mans Classic as well as Legends, Masters and Youngtimers series. What a rare opportunity to buy such an iconic race car! We can only think that the new owner is still rubbing his/her hands with glee...
Sold For £134,400
Reg Number: Un-Reg
Chassis Number: 2331066
Engine Number: 7427831
Body Colour: White
Trim Colour: Black
MOT ExpiryDate: None
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- Post is under moderationLIGHTWEIGHTS AND BATMOBILES #BMW-E9 / #BMW-3.0-CSL / #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9
The heavy CS wasn’t a natural for the racetrack but #BMW race team #AC-Schnitzer could see its potential and had managed to extract 360 bhp from the engine by the early ’70s, which enouraged the factory to get involved. Accordingly, a lightweight version of the CS coupe – dubbed CSL – was the first to be developed by the newly formed #BMW-Motorsport GmbH.
The first 169 cars made in #1971 were based on a standard 3.0 carburettor engine and used steel 18 per cent thinner than the regular BMW bodyshell, with a 25 per cent lock-up LSD, #Bilstein gas dampers, progressive rate coil springs and the now-famous 20-spoke Alpina wheel style. The rear bumper was replaced by a small black fibreglass item, the front bumper was removed entirely and replaced by a small air dam, the rear side windows were plastic and boot, doors and bonnet were all alloy. The chromed arch extensions and side stripes completed the job, while inside was a pair of Scheel bucket seats and no power steering.
In summer 1972 a second batch of 1096 cars was made, of which 500 were reserved for the UK market. With the engine now taken up to 3003cc to allow it to fall within the FIA’s over-3 litre category, the cars used the Bosch injection and British-market cars were supplied with the ‘City Pack’ which added back the front and rear bumpers, electric windows, tinted glass, power steering, carpets, heated rear window and sound deadening. Not so lightweight then. A third batch of cars was produced in 1973 to homologate the famous ‘Batmobile’ aerodynamic package for racing. The engine was now 3153cc and the cars were supplied with the full spoiler kit including the bonnet fi ns and roof hoop, although the boot was now steel to take the 30 kg weight of the downforce induced by that rear spoiler. Just 57 examples were made, all left-hand drive and offered in only Chamonix White or Polaris Silver.
The CSL is a very specialist proposition when compared to the regular CS coupes and there are many more cars wearing the full ‘Batmobile’ kit than were ever produced by BMW. It’s further confused by so many CSLs being sold with the full complement of luxury kit, so check chassis numbers to be sure. BMW UK is very efficient at this kind of thing.
INSURING A CS
We spoke to the experts at Lancaster Insurance (01480 4484 26, www.lancasterinsurance.co.uk) regarding the cost of a classic car policy for a 45-year old sales manager living in Gloucestershire GL2 post code area and driving no more than 5000 miles a year in an unmodified #1972 3.0 CSi. Our imgainary owner keeps their BMW in a garage next to the house and has a clean driving licence which they have held for over 20 years. The car's got an agreed value of around £20,000 and the estimated annual premium to insure the car for 12 months could work out at around £101 or without an agreed value the cost would be £84. Policy benefits and discounts offered by Lancaster Insurance may vary between insurance schemes or cover selected, and are obviously subject to underwriting criteria. An additional charge may be payable.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.