Ads on Test: 1973 BMW 3.0CSL
Genuine ‘Batmobiles’ are be few and far between; this lookalike offers an accurate compromise, says Richard Gunn
There’s a common misconception that every BMW 3.0CSL came bedecked with spoilers, fins and a stripped interior. Many owners, especially British ones, opted for more subtlety. That was the case with this car, now for sale from a private collection. Its conversion from Series II CSL to ‘Batmobile’ spec was done during a restoration using, according to the vendor, genuine BMW Motorsport parts. The attention to detail included conversion from right- to left-hand drive. It has covered under 500 miles since.
Finished in Chamonix White with BMW Motorsport striping, care has obviously been taken to make this look as accurate as possible, with the full quota of add-on aerodynamic and weight-saving parts. Exterior condition is mostly excellent. Corrosion is absent, save for what looks like a minute stain at the rear of the left-hand side sill cover. On the other side, the right-hand side sill cover doesn’t quite fit flushly because of a loose securing screw. The left-hand rear edge of the bonnet also doesn’t sit quite as snugly as it could when closed. Up close, there are a few minor marks on some of the side trim and black-painted rear bumpers. The chrome wheelarch trims are all superb.
Behind the Alpina wheels, only the nearside pair show any minor rim scuffing. Tyres are Bridgestone Turanza T001s, 205/55 R16 91Ws up front with wider 225/50 R16 92Ws at the rear, all from 2013 and looking healthy. The underbody looks to have been comprehensively sealed.
Inside, the cabin is very tidy, although it shows more ageing signs than the exterior. With 67,679km (42,054 miles) on the speedometer, it has obviously been looked after but not over-restored so that it loses any patina. Thus the wood shows some some wear, mostly around the extremities by the doors. There’s a gap in the centre console for the radio, just waiting to be filled by a period Blaupunkt or Becker. Apart from the clock, all of the controls, gauges and warning lights work and behave as they should. The seats – leather with corduroy inserts – look nearly new.
On the road, the BMW behaves impeccably. There’s no roughness, the idle is smooth and the temperature needle stays resolutely at the centre of its travel once it reaches working temperature. Gear selection is easy throughout, with a surprisingly light clutch, and the steering feels tight and accurate with no play.
As docile as the CSL is around town, the car comes alive when let loose on a faster road – it surges forward with no hesitation. Fortunately, the brakes are very sharp; they pull the car up quickly, without any veering to one side.
Sadly when the owner responsible for the restoration passed away, the history went AWOL. However, this car bears all the marks of a very good 3.0CSL where the ‘Batmobile’ additions have been performed to a high, authentic standard. And it’s up for considerably less money than you’d pay for an original ‘Batmobile’. This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.
Price £165,000 Engine 3003cc sohc straight-six, Bosch electronic fuel injection Power 200bhp @ 5500rpm Torque 200 lb ft @ 4300rpm Performance 0-60mph: 7.3sec; Top speed: 134mph Length 4658mm Width 1676mm Fuel consumption 17mpg