This 400 Horsepower 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL Recreation Is A Family Affair
Photography by Will Mederski
I reached Bill and Billy Glavin by phone recently, the father and son who’ve built this CSL recreation, where the duo found a quiet spot to put me on speakerphone. Once we had a good venue, the room seemed to fill with friendly chatter. Even though I was a thousand miles away from their family gathering in New Hampshire, there was an immediate warmth and closeness talking to them. They are a dynamic father-son duo, who share a passion for automobiles and finishing each other’s sentences.
Once we’d established a friendly rapport, the conversation comes back to cars.
How did this whole car thing start? Is it really a family tradition?
Bill takes us back to the origin story. “I had a physics teacher in high school who had this old hot rod, it was a Model A or a Lincoln, and he had it about eighty percent finished. He told us about it one day and mentioned he was trying to sell it for cheap. I came home from school and said, ‘Dad, we have to go look at this car!’ and so we called the guy and actually went over.
He was incredibly thorough, told us everything about its history and what he’d done and what it needed. We got back in the car and looked at each other and said, ‘Did you understand any of that?’ We kind of laughed and realized we were in way over our heads, but I think that moment stuck with me. I always wonder what would have happened if we had decided to buy it anyway. So, that’s how we got to where we are now.”
I love that. An honest and visceral way to get the car bug even if that particular project wasn’t to be. So when did you finally start getting involved with cars of your own?
“Well, I graduated from college and took a job with a big corporation, and one of the perks for a guy fresh out of college was that it came with a company car. But, of course, you had no say in what kind of car it was, so it was all kinds of old American iron, K-Cars and stuff like that. Eventually I left that job and made a bit of a career change, a big move across the country with the family, and that’s when I bought my first BMW—a 535is. That was the car that I started going to track days in, learning more about cars and driving.”
It’s clear that you got Billy into it as well, so what was the first car that the two of you worked on together?
“We had an old BMW 2002 and the first E30 M3 we bought. Back when you could buy them for cheap and people really beat on them at the track. We ran the M3 at Enduro and Vintage Racing events and really got the bug. The car was badly damaged racing one season, and most people would have given up on it after that. But it meant too much to us, so we fixed it back up and continued racing it.”
I’m starting to notice a BMW tradition here. What else is in your garage?
“We have a set of the classic M cars—an E30 M3, E28 M5, E24 M6—all in black. We’ve got an old Chevy pickup truck down in South Carolina, and it’s just the perfect vehicle for tooling around in. My wife has a Lincoln Continental convertible with the suicide doors, and it’s a really special car for me—I have memories of riding around in my grandmother’s Lincoln convertible as a kid. We never opened the doors, we just climbed in after days at the beach. By the end of that first summer, the whole car was full of sand! So now she takes Billy’s kids to the beach in her Continental.”
* * *
Unlike that fateful moment when Bill and his dad shook their heads in confusion at the high school teacher’s hot rod, his son Billy was tinkering and racing with his dad from the first taste. That led him to a job at Hendrick Motorsports, and then HMS Motorsport—both North Carolina outfits with serious ties to NASCAR and other top-tier race programs. The car bug transcended hobby and became a career for Billy. And that career has endowed him with the skills to run a private father-son race team, restoring and maintaining the 1973 CSL featured here.
* * *
Where’d the fascination with the CSL come from?
“When we first started getting serious about cars, we had a poster of Hans-Joachim Stuck at the Nurburgring driving one with all four wheels off the ground. Every time we were in the garage, we kept looking at it and looking at it, often saying to each other, ‘It would be cool to have one of those someday.’”
Tell me the story of how your CSL came to be.
“We found a relatively clean tub, then cut the roof off to remove the sunroof. We dipped it and found more rust than expected, so then we repaired that. And we added a significant and more modern cage—the coupes don’t have a B-pillar, they’re very flexible there. A lot of period photos show these cars lifting a front wheel in a corner just from the chassis twisting!
We painted the car in blue so nobody thinks it’s an ‘original factory car.’ It’s a period-correct livery, but not the correct livery for the ‘73 car. We built the car to a 1973 spec though, because it was the first year of fully factory-supported European touring car racing for BMW with the E9. Prior to that, it was all Alpina and Schnitzer programs. The ’73 cars had single-cam motors, which were derivatives of the street car motor. In 1974, they switched to the twin cam, which are prohibitively expensive and rare.
First, we built the body and chassis and ran a basic triple Weber setup. Then, three years ago, we pulled the motor, swapped to rack and pinion steering, fitted a new fuel and exhaust system, and totally rebuilt the motor. It’s now pushing 400 horsepower at the crank, which is comparable or higher than the ’73 factory cars. We also converted the hubs to centerlocks, and BBS made us a set of factory-matching centerlock wheels.
Aside from the unobtainable magnesium suspension components, the car is just about factory correct once you see it sitting on the ground or running at the track.”
* * *
There’s a subplot here: Billy is building up an E30 M3 DTM-spec car of his own. He shares details of the extraordinary efforts that go into bringing this car to life, from doing all of the work himself to sourcing parts that seemingly no longer exist. When asked about the inspiration, he mentions a poster.
I love how much inspiration y’all draw from posters!
“There’s a famous old BMW poster of a Warsteiner DTM car and a Diamond Schwartz production E30 M3 together. It says something in German, probably about the racing lineage of the car. We’ll be able to pretty much recreate that poster once Billy’s race car is finished.”
What livery will the DTM M3 get? The same as the poster?
“We’ve been debating that a lot actually. We don’t try to trick people into thinking we have original cars, but we do like to faithfully recreate something from that era. The Marlboro livery seems so politically incorrect that I think that’s the one we should go with.”
* * *
If you can’t always tell who’s answering the questions, you’re not alone. Bill and his son Billy almost always speak as “we” and they share the same refreshing and energizing enthusiasm for wrenching on and racing cars, surpassed only by their love of family.
Bill summarizes the conversation, “The side story to this whole thing is that from age fifteen to today, we’ve been best friends in addition to father and son, because we have this shared passion. A lot of my friends were and are jealous of that I think. It can be hard to stay close to your kids at that age because you’re simply not cool enough. But thankfully I didn’t have that problem (and still don’t)!”
Billy adds, “The best way to put it—I’m an enabler. I’ve dragged him down this path farther than he ever imagined.”