1974 BMW 3.0CSL
Ex-BMW Motorsport test car, works driver Hans Stuck’s personal road car
1974 BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’
Chassis no. 4355031
• One of the 57 and final Second Series CSLs with homologated central rear wing strut
• Confirmed by BMW as ‘Testwagen M GmbH’, an M Division test car
• Loaned to works driver and coming Grand Prix star Hans-Joachim Stuck
• First private owner World Cup Alpine ski racer Christian Neureuther, known ownership trail from new
• UK registered
“Stuck cleared off at incredible speed in the fastest BMW, slashing around the jumps and fabled profusion of corners and gradients to put in a lap of 8m 10.9sec (104mph/166km/h) on his standing start lap…” writes British journalist Jeremy Walton
The circuit was the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife and the astonishing time was 10 seconds faster than Jim Clark’s flying lap qualifying his Lotus-Climax for the 1965 German Grand Prix. The occasion was the last-ever clash between works BMW CSLs and Ford Capris, the 1974 Nürburgring 6 Hours, a highlight of the calendar held that year on 14 July.
This motor car, BMW 3.0 CSL road car chassis no. 4355031, was registered the morning after as a ‘Testwagen M GmbH’ and then used as a company car by BMW’s leading works driver Hans-Joachim Stuck.
The BMW 3.0 CSL
“Our Capris then had no chance. I watched the BMWs disappear into the distance…” Works Ford driver John Fitzpatrick reflects on the introduction of ‘Batmobile’ wings to the already dominant CSLs mid-way through the 1973 racing season.
The origins of the elegant road car that developed into the mighty wide-wheeled, 430bhp racing car that Grand Prix stars Stuck, Jacky Ickx, Gunnar Nilsson and Ronnie Peterson drove so dramatically in 1974 were relatively humble.
For the first six-cylinder E9-series, BMW placed a smooth 170bhp, 2,800cc SOHC ’six under the bonnet of the 2000 CS, a pillarless coupé by Wilhelm Hofmeister. Four purposeful headlamps replaced the unusual faired-in lights of the original and the new car made its debut in 1968. A 200bhp upgrade appeared in 1971 in the fuel-injected, 2,986cc 3.0 CSI.
Even before then, tuners Alpina and Schnitzer had seen the racing potential of the new coupé and a Gp. 2 Alpina-prepared car driven by Helmut Kelleners and Nicholas Koob came 9th overall in the 1969 Spa 24 Hours; Kelleners with Austrian Günther Huber won the race outright in a 2800 CS in 1970. BMW recognised the marketing potential of motor racing and produced a special version for homologation, the Coupé Sports Leicht (CSL) in May 1972.
The CSL – in its purest form at first with Solex carburettors – was built from thinner-gauge steel and had an aluminium bonnet, bootlid and doors. Fuel-injection came in August 1972 in preparation for a no-expense-spared attempt at the 1973 championship. At the same time, the capacity was increased to 3,003cc to allow future increases in capacity in the over 3-litre division. BMW Motorsport GmbH was created, headed by Jochen Neerpasch and Martin Braungart, both leaving the dominant Ford Capri racing team. Also coming from Cologne was rising star Hans-Joachim Stuck, the son of pre-War Auto Union driver Hans, an exciting driver set for a Grand Prix career from 1974 to 1979.
Stuck Jnr was phenomenally fast, particularly at the Nürburgring, a master of wet weather driving and more than a match for long-established F1 drivers Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx when they were signed up by BMW in 1974.
In 1973, white factory CSLs in a new BMW Motorsport livery of purple and two-tone blue stripes set the pace all year, despite Ford enlisting multiple World Champion Jackie Stewart and other F1 stars. What turned the championship decisively in the Munich team’s favour was the homologation after Le Mans in July 1973 of a wing and spoiler package.
The immortal ‘Batmobile’ was born.
Stuck debuted the revised car at the 1973 Nürburgring 6 Hours and recorded lap times 15 seconds faster than before, winning the race at a canter from the other works CSL and Niki Lauda’s orange Alpina CSL, also with wings.
The two-part rear wing was so effective, not only did BMW revert to using steel bootlids to support it, a Second Series CSL, now with an improved 206bhp motor, was introduced with an additional central fin prevent the wing distorting at very high speed when Braungart calculated it generated 30kg of downforce.
BMW campaigned as a factory team from 1973 to 1974 in Europe and in 1975 in North America. It occasionally entered a turbocharged, ca. 1,000bhp one-off CSL in 1976. Batmobiles would go on to win the European Touring Car Championship every year from 1975 to 1979.
As a very expensive homologation special, to deliver the necessary number of cars the Munich firm was flexible with its clients’ wishes. Unable to legally run the rear wing in Germany, home-market CSL Batmobiles came with it packed loose inside the boot. British customers preferred refinement, so rare UK-delivered cars often had more sound insulation, powered windows of thicker glass and stronger steel bumpers. Variations in specification abound and finding a genuine car in its purest form is hard. All Batmobiles were left-hand drive and carried unique-to-the-model 3,153cc engines.
From 1972, out of the 1,265 BMW CSLs built there were 110 First Series Batmobiles and 57 Second Series, with the last leaving the factory in 1975.
This Motor Car
Chamonix White (code 85) Batmobile chassis 4355031, the 31st Second Series car built, was manufactured on 27 June 1974, left the production line on 11 July 1974 and registered M-DJ-2199 in Munich on 15 July 1974. It was not sold through the usual dealer network.
A letter from BMW Mobile Tradition dated 7 September 2005 to the then UK owner confirms that chassis 4355031 was delivered directly to BMW M GmbH: “There the car was used as a test car”.
Amongst its other duties, ‘4355031’ was loaned long-term to BMW works driver and March F1 and F2 hot shot Hans-Joachim Stuck for his personal use. At that time, German magazine Auto Motor und Sport interviewed the national sporting hero and Stuck stated that the CSL “felt as if it were a piece of myself”; it fitted him like a glove. Photographs accompanying the car show Stuck sitting on the bonnet, its M-DJ-2199 registration clearly visible, and the star at the wheel with long-term girlfriend sitting in the passenger seat.
Like most works-owned cars, chassis 4355031 was not retained by the factory for very long. It was sold to its first private owner on 4 March 1975, mainly due to Stuck’s close ties with former World Cup Alpine ski racer Christian Neureuther of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The sale to Neureuther was made possible by his sponsor, German ski binding specialist Marker. Neureuther and his wife Rosi Mittermeier, another winter sports champion, were friends of Stuck who introduced company owner and founder Hannes Marker to Jochen Neerpasch. The car was re-registered locally, GAP-M-969.
In an email to later owner Yannick Bernat, Neureuther remembers the car with fondness and that Marker his sponsor had actually paid for the car, transferring ownership to him before it was sold on 7 July 1978 to Josef Zahler, another Garmisch-Partenkirchen resident. Zahler was to own it for 17 years. While in his care, a Technischer Überwachungsverein [TÜV] Bayern (official insurance valuation report for the state of Bavaria) for the car dated 16 August 1990 lists two previous owners: Hans-Joachim Stuck and Christian Neureuther. The state-regulated institute reported the car as, “Very good, but not excellent”.
Five years later, Zahler sold ‘4355031’ to acclaimed French BMW authority Yannick Bernat. The transaction occurred on 7 July 1995. The car was tired and in need of professional work. Bernat remembers its condition as “fair” but held work off until autumn 1995. Using his stock of incredibly rare, original and authentic parts, Bernat commissioned German CSL expert Dieter Tögel to carry out a total body-off restoration. Any parts that needed replacing were sourced in house or from older BMW dealers and specialists. Wherever possible, only correct CSL parts, panels and pieces of interior trim were used: the correct-gauge thin front wings; front spoiler; front suspension, springs and dampers; chrome wheel arch extensions; genuine CSL rear bumper, etc.
At the same time, Alpina specialist Bernat sourced a B2 engine from the world-renowned BMW tuners of Buchloe in Bavaria. In B2 tune, the Alpina-BMW ’six displaced 2,986cc and produced 230bhp @ 6,750rpm, with 270Nm torque – a significant increase over the standard CSL motor. Alpina played a key role in the development of a racing version of the E9 coupé, so were the obvious choice for a period-correct replacement unit. Despite often running a smaller-capacity engine of its own design, the company’s orange Jägermeister car was the only real rival to the pair of works CSLs throughout 1973, winning outright at Silverstone,
A sizeable folder of colour photos documenting the comprehensive restoration accompanies the car. When finished in 1996, Bernat used the car only in good weather and took it to classic car events such as the Oldtimer Grand Prix and Le Mans Classic.
In summer 2005 ownership passed to London lawyer Tony Badenoch. The sale was handled by preeminent UK BMW specialist Barney Halse, who carried out comprehensive recommissioning work on the car including converting the headlamps to dip on the left-hand side of the road. The car was fully prepared for an entry to the BMW-sponsored 2006 Villa d’Este concours, when the owner drove it from London to Lake Como. Speaking to British Magazine Motor Sport, Badenoch explained: “It’s by invitation only. If you get asked you can hardly say no, can you?” The barrister won the Long-Distance award for his endeavours – the car was granted a FIVA Identity Card prior to the event.
Badenoch kept the car until May 2010 when our client, a well-known member of a notable historic motor racing family, experienced racing driver and passionate Stuck enthusiast, purchased it at auction. Whilst in his tenure, chassis 4355031 continued to be maintained by Halse and invoices on file include £16,373 for various work on suspension and brakes in 2017.
A planned reunion for the car with Hans Stuck at the 2019 Goodwood Members’ Meeting was not to be, though the German remembered the car well, offered to sign it and ‘4355031’ formed part of the line-up of ex-Stuck racing cars at the event. It has also been displayed in the Earl’s Court Motor Show at the Goodwood Revival.
Porsche built 1,580 examples of the famous 1973 2.7 RS, 200 of which were lightweights for use in competition. More exclusive, and no less successful on the racetracks, the BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile is another truly great homologation special. The image of Hans-Joachim Stuck jumping a midnight blue CSL at the ’Ring in 1974 has entered motor racing folklore. That the great German F1 star, tin-top expert and double Le Mans winner once ran this very car as personal transport makes ‘4355031’, a rare Second Series Batmobile, one of the most desirable.