When a company with one of the greatest saloon car racing histories of all time and an engineering department with the greatest minds and billions at its disposal produces a car designed to be the best, you better believe it is. With only 1,383 produced during its 2004 production run, the E46 M3 CSL, the L stood for Leichtbau, was the definitive ‘Touring Car’ for the road. Available in only two colours, silver grey metallic and black sapphire metallic, the CSL was powered by a modified version of the usual 3,246cc S54 inline-six, mated to the exclusive SMG II transmission. This state-of-the-art transmission featured a launch control mode that automatically shifts at the optimum point for maximum acceleration, and this, in turn, was mated to the standard E46 M3 final drive and M Differential Lock. Finally, the DSC can be switched to ‘M Track’ mode with a steering wheel-mounted button, raising the threshold at which the system intervenes to allow for some degree of wheelspin. Zero to sixty is in an incredible 4.6 seconds, totally remarkable in a car with four comfortable seats, electric windows and a boot for the weekly shop.
BMW’s ‘Leichtbau’ philosophy in terms of the mass produced M3 was, not only to reduce weight overall, but to distribute the weight savings to retain the E46 3-Series’ perfect 50-50 split. To get the centre of gravity as low as possible, the CSL adopted many weight saving technologies from BMW’s Formula One racing applications. A large proportion of the M3’s sound insulation was removed, along with the electric seats and navigation systems. The CSL’s unique body pieces, including the roof, were all crafted from carbon fibre, glass-reinforced plastics were used throughout structural points in the car, and the standard rear window was replaced with one made from thinner glass. The results were considerably more effective than the 110kg. weight saving would suggest, as the reduction in mass in conjunction with the lowered height of that mass and less body flex led to a dramatic improvement in dynamics, and the car would turn left and right in a much more eager fashion, which, in fact, was the idea.
First registered in July 2003, this fantastic original CSL has had just one owner from new, and has covered a mere 41,000 kilometres. During his ownership the car has been maintained to a high standard, supported by a stamped service book, in addition to the relevant owners manuals and both sets of keys.
These BMW M3 CSLs are rapidly becoming a blue chip investment, and none more so than this excellent example.