BMW M has been around for fifty years now, and those four letters have cemented themselves as a major player in performance car circles. Anything with an ///M badge on it is special, and when that badge is combined with the CSL acronym the result is usually a limited production number track car for the streets. When a BMW sports a CSL badge, you know that it’s a more a driver-focused car that’s often trimmed of the fat seen in the mass-produces daily driven M-car counterparts. Prospective buyers know and expect this, I mean it’s all in the name because CSL stands for Competition, Sports, Lightweight. That’s a recipe for success right there. Of course, these limited CSL models have every aspect of them tweaked, so the suspension is better, the steering, gear shifts - everything that differentiates a street car from a track car sees a bit of fiddling, but just enough to make the car comfortable enough to drive it to and from the racetrack. Most of the CSL editions we see in production feature the same engine as the series halo car.
BMW M3 CSL PROTOTYP E46 V8
When it comes to the CSL models, in nearly all the cases they featured the original engine as a base, but in the case of this one dubbed the BMW M3 CSL Prototyp E46 V8, the name tells you that the much-loved S54 inline-six was relegated to the spares bin and a normally-aspirated 4.0-litre V8 took its place. This relatively unknown project featured an S62-based V8 that was given the designation S65VB40, and it had to rev high and fast and was to produce a decent 320 kW (430 hp). The engine was shoehorned into an ex-press car, and while it never made it to the market as a limited edition E46, the knowledge gained directly helped the development of the S65 V8 engines that would be found in the E90 M3.
BMW M5 CSL PROTOTYP E60 V10
The E60 BMW M5 hit the market with a normally-aspirated S85 5.0-litre V10 powerplant that had 373 kW (500 hp) and 520 Nm of torque on board. For this prototype, two V10 engines were developed and both had higher capacity, 5.5-litres and 5.7-litres respectively, and this increase saw power rise to a strong 470 kW (630 hp). The car that was eventually put together was done so to celebrate the 25th anniversary of BMW M. The original V10 M5 was treated to a proper diet; the tin roof was swapped for carbon fibre, and the massively heavy electric front seats were binned in favour of some lighter Recaros while the rear seats were chucked altogether (a common CSL trait). The car’s notoriously odd SMG gearbox was changed to a dual-clutch setup and received an extra oil cooler, the suspension was tweaked and lightweight forged wheels were fitted. While the package was good enough to lap Nürburgring in a fast time of 7:50, it remained a special development car and didn’t see production.
BMW M6 CSL PROTOTYP E63 V10
BMW’s M6 was also a perfect candidate for a CSL project thanks to being a pretty large and heavy car and also having that V10 powerplant. A fat donor car means there are plenty of places to trim the excess, well, everything. That V10 was already pretty well sorted with 378 kW (507 hp) and 520 Nm of torque available which was already enough to propel the German luxobarge from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.6-seconds while the top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). This BMW M6 CSL Prototyp E63 V10 project would test quicker purely thanks to the diet, which saw the car’s interior replaced with lightweight components where possible, including the door cards. The car was given active airflow with an automatic rear spoiler and an electronically controlled, retractable front spoiler.
BMW M2 CSL PROTOTYP F87
When the BMW M2 Competition was released four years ago in 2018, the compact M-Car was already ridiculously quick thanks to the twin-turbocharged inline-6 that had 302 kW (404 hp) and 550 Nm of torque. While it was a special edition car, it still wasn’t a CSL and so the BMW M2 CSL Prototyp F87 was created. The rear seats disappeared, the front seats had weight shaved off and there was carbon fibre spread throughout the interior. Oddly, at the same time, an M2 CS was also put together and the powerplant was slightly tweaked to give the car 335 kW (450 hp), and it was made more comfortable for street use than the CSL prototype and so the powers that be at BMW shelved the CSL in favour of the CS we all know today. The M2 CSL prototype is now a one-of-one.
Take a look at the YouTube video that explains these rare, letter-spotted Competition-Sports-Lightweight models in quite a a bit more detail in the first part of a series on the world of BMW M: WE ARE M – The secret BMW M Garage “CSL special part 1” | BMW M
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