2002 BMW M3 CSL Concept Car

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Beginning with the first E36 M3’s delivered, BMW racers began pressuring BMW for a race-ready version with which to compete against Porsche 911s in sports-car racing.

In 1995, BMW relented and began building batches of the M3 CSL at BMW Individual. Upon completion they were sent to Prototype Technology Group (PTG) Racing in Virginia for final preparation, which included the front and rear Motorsport flag decals, and “trunk goodies.”

There is a minor controversy in which some people believe the M3 CSL should not be called an M3 CSL (referring to the famous 3.0 CSL), but rather an M3 Lightweight, as that was the name that BMW advertised the car as.

While it is true that BMW’s press referred to the car as the M3 Lightweight, each M3 CSL’s build sheet (the instructions from BMW AG to BMW Individual) clearly labelled the car as an M3 CSL, so there can be no doubt that the factory itself thought of the car as a CSL. In addition, the additional manual that came with the car identified it as the CSL.

This controversy can perhaps be attributed to the fact that the English translation of CSL is Sports Lightweight.

Although BMW promised to build at least 85 examples, BMW never released the number of M3 CSL’s built, and because of the peculiar assembly line, to this day may not be known. However, enthusiasts now believe the number of models extant are approximately 120.
The first two cars, which were used as press cars, are not technically M3 CSL’s as they were regular production M3’s that PTG made similar in appearance to the not-yet-built CSL. After press duties, those two cars were brought back into the PTG stable.

In an ironic twist, the car that BMW built to race was hardly raced.
Outside of multiple cars raced in the BMW CCA Club Racing series (an amateur series specific only to BMW models) PTG had between two to four models that they raced in IMSA. It seems that one of those cars was sold to Jeff McMillian, in which he won the SCCA World Challenge series, without winning a single race. One was raced in the SCCA’s Touring 1 class by John Browne, and one or two may have been raced in the extinct Motorola Cup.

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The M3 GT Coupe was a limited-edition mainland Europe only edition of which 356 were made, 50 further M3 GT Individuals were made in right-hand drive for the UK market. All built in 1995.
Famous for being British Racing Green with a Mexico Green interior – a peculiar choice when the traditional German national racing colors were white with red numbers.
The BMW M3 GT was a homologation series special built to allow the E36 M3 to compete in the FIA-GT class II, IMSA GT and international longdistance races.

The M3 Evo Individual was a limited-edition (200 units for Europe with part VIN WBACB5103-AN307–, 50 for the United Kingdom) car sometimes referred to as the M3 GT2. The engine and performance characteristics of the car were unchanged from the 1996+ euro M3, and a special exterior and interior colour combination was once again chosen by BMW; imola red (405) paint with nappa leather & Amaretto seats in imola red and anthracite seats.

Fifteen M3’s were ordered by BMW Australia in 1994 to race in the Australian Super Production series. All were delivered to Frank Gardner Racing for final preparation.
The E36 M3 is considered one of the best-handling cars of all time, and was in fact named “Best-Handling Car Ever – at any Price” by Car and Driver in 1997.

This article does not cite any references or sources. (April 2007)
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The 2001 E46 M3 appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 L S54B32 engine. At the time of the car’s introduction, this engine had the highest specific output naturally aspirated engine ever made by BMW, producing 343 PS (333 SAE net hp (252 kW) in North America) and 365 N•m (262 ft·lbf) of torque. The first batch of E46 M3s delivered were Laguna Seca Blue. The available SMG Drivelogic (also known as SMG II) transmission, a Formula 1-style electrohydraulic manual gearbox with no clutch pedal and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is also a highlight. The model also came with a new 6-speed transmission and red-line RPM of 8000, a first for any BMW. The engine also consisted of 6 independent throttle bodies and electronically driven throttles (without a cable).

The M3’s S54 naturally aspirated engine produces more than 100 horsepower per litre (340 bhp/3.2 litre), a notable feat.
* (3.2l-24v I6) – 343 PS (US model = 333 HP / 252 kW) 0-60 MPH – 4.8 seconds, 1/4 Mile – 13.1@105 MPH (U.S. model Car and Driver, March 2003) Top Speed: 155 MPH (249 km/h, electronically limited) 189 MPH(304 km/h, delimited)
There were two special-edition models of the E46 M3 produced: the M3 CSL and the M3 GTR V8. An E46 GTR came to life on February 2001, powered by a 4000 cm³ V8 producing 444 bhp (race version—street version produced 350 bhp). Unlike the straight-six powered M3 versions, which were outpaced by the Porsche 996 GT3, the racing version of the E46 M3 GTR 16 was very successful in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), entered by Schnitzer Motorsport. Rivals such as Porsche pointed out that this car was more of a prototype as no V8 engine was available in the road-going BMW E46, which is in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo. In 2001, ALMS regulations stated that cars must be for sale on two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued. To fulfill this rule, BMW put 10 road going GTRs on sale after the 2001 season, for 250,000 euros (then $218,000) each, allegedly only available for select customers.

Due to this, the ALMS rules were altered for 2002 to state that 100 cars and 1000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. Although BMW could have raced the V8 with the new weight and power penalties under these new regulations, they chose to pull out of the ALMS, effectively ending the shortlived M3 GTR’s career.
Two Schnitzer Motorsport GTR cars saw a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 1-2 in 2004 and 2005, as well as entries in the 24 Hours Spa. Onboard coverage recorded in 2004 Hans-Joachim Stuck, Pedro Lamy, Jörg Müller & Dirk Müller on the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.
Private teams (Scheid, Getrag, etc.) also have fit 4000cc BMW V8 engines into the E46 body to race on the Nürburgring, winning some VLN races in the last years.

BMW made a limited run (less than 1,400 units) of the M3 CSL (E46) machines between June and December of 2003. The CSL (Coupe Sport Lightweight) received an aggressive weight reduction campaign, more power (up to 360 hp), and sharper handling characteristics than the standard M3, courtesy of semi-slick racing tires. From the exterior, the CSL is distinguished from its standard sibling with a different wheel design, larger integrated rear spoiler and a large air intake hole on the left side of the front bumper. Weight loss was achieved through use of a carbon-fiber roof, carbon-fiber trunk lid, lighter exhaust manifold, thinner rear glass, carbon fiber interior door panels and console, lightweight racing seats, and the removal of side air bags. Several other features available in a regular M3 as standard such as air conditioning and radio were also deleted, although these options could be added at the request of the owner. SMG II sequential manual gearbox was made standard. Owing to the small production run and the complications of clearing DOT and United States Environmental Protection Agency EPA standards for the North American market, BMW never exported the CSL to the United States, although some parts from it were later made available on the regular M3 as part of an optional Competition Package.
While the CSL was comparable in performance to the Ferrari’s 360 at half the price, this version of the M3 is often criticized as being too racing-oriented and significantly pricier than the standard model. Focusing on weight loss, the CSL became less of the “everyday car” that the M3 is known for. Another criticism was the unavailability of a manual gearbox.

Although the M3 CSL was never exported to the United States, in 2005 BMW introduced an M3 Competition Package (a.k.a. Club Sport in the UK): a $4,000 option which offered a number of upgrades taken from M3 CSL. The package includes:

* 19-inch BBS spin-cast alloy wheels
* Specially tuned spring rates for the Competition Package; this was carried over to all M3 production from 12/05 on.
* CSL steering rack: More direct steering ratio of 14.5:1 (vs. standard M3’s 15.4:1)
* CSL’s M-Track Mode DSC with a button mounted on the steering wheel (deletion of cruise control and steering wheel mounted radio controls)
* Compound cross-drilled rotors from the M3 CSL model; larger front rotor of 13.6 inches (from 12.8 inches)
* Alcantara steering wheel, gear lever and hand brake
* Interlagos Blue exterior paint available as an exclusive color option.
* Unique cube aluminum interior trim

Scribbled on November 30th 2007 in BMW, BMW M3
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