BMW 3.0CSL is a Speeding Art Exhibit
Photography by Peter Aylward
Back in 1975, artist Alexander Calder created the first ever BMW Art Car in the now famed series. Commissioned by French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain, the 3.0 CSL competed in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Jean Guichet, Sam Posey, and Poulain. It failed to finish, retiring after nine hours with universal joint failure. Unfortunately it was also one of Calder’s last pieces as he died later the same year.
This car is not Calder’s original creation, rather a replica. But don’t judge it too harshly as it was built with the intention of paying tribute to the original, which has travelled the world in exhibitions but is sadly never driven. This particular Batmobile Art Car started life as a standard CSL road car and has been painstakingly prepared starting with the correct original CSL dry sump. Painted to represent the Art Car using all original wings and fenders with around one thousand hours spent on the bodywork before it even reached the paint-shop. Pushing roughly 420bhp and running on slicks, it weighs as close to 1000 kilograms as they can get it.
It’s running in a historic touring car series which often features cars from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s on the same grid. The drivers roster include Colin Turkington, the 2014 BTCC champion driver who competes in the eBay sponsored BMW 1 series, Sam Hancock, a former European Le Mans Series Champion and veteran of seven 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Sam Thomas, owner of Sam Thomas Racing, the guys that made the CSL what it is today and prepare it and many other historic racing cars in various series.
In the past we’ve asked what you think of replicas and kit cars, but we think we can all agree that if it’s being raced it beats being stored and hidden away, replica or not.