BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R
The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R - a car that celebrates both the 40th anniversary of BMW in North America and the heady racing success of the BMW 3.0 CSL in 1975.
In August every year car enthusiasts from all over the world gather for the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach to immerse themselves in the fascination of both automotive treasures from years gone by and pioneering studies for times to come.
1975 was the year the Bavarian manufacturer founded BMW of North America, its first official sales company outside Europe. It was also the year in which BMW Motorsport made its debut in motor racing stateside - in the IMSA series - with a specially made BMW 3.0 CSL. Just a few weeks later BMW recorded its first, historic triumph at the 12 Hours of Sebring. This was followed by a succession of victories, including one at Laguna Seca, just 15 miles from Pebble Beach. BMW’s rookie year duly culminated in the white BMW 3.0 CSL, decked out in eye-catching BMW Motorsport livery, winning the manufacturers’ championship at the first attempt. This success, coupled with the car’s striking design and the “Bavarian Motor Works” legend emblazoned across the sun protection film on the windscreen and rear window, announced the BMW brand’s arrival in racing-mad North America with a bang.
“Motor racing is all about the ability of cars to mesmerise, about the unbridled joy of driving,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “And as such it represents the heartbeat of BMW. Back in 1975, as today, winning races came down to how man and machine could work together. Technical innovations have taken the effectiveness of this partnership to ever great heights. And with the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R, we’re aiming to show how much closer the driver and car can grow in the future.”
A new level of driver focus - the interior
Given the aim of achieving the best possible fusion of driver and car, the driver was the logical starting point for the design of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R. For the seamless integration of the driver into the car, the designers extrapolated the principle of driver focus beyond the geometric form of the interior. In the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R, the idea of centring attention on the driver begins with his immediate surroundings. This new approach led the designers first to the driver’s helmet, race suit and seat before moving onto the lines and surfaces of the interior.
This way of doing things changes the nature of conventional interior functions. As the layer of interaction closest to the driver, the helmet visor assumes the functions of a display and projects situation-based information such as the car’s speed, gear engaged and engine revs into the driver’s direct field of view. The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R thus enhances the driver’s direct perception. The idea of the Head-Up Display, which has already proved its effectiveness in series-produced BMW models by flagging up driving-related information without distracting the driver, is therefore expressed in a whole new way. “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” is the name of the game - i.e. enabling the driver to concentrate fully on the job of driving the car.
As well as helping him to do his job, the driver’s race suit (a classical design by Puma) visually expresses the connection between the driver and the car. If both the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel, illuminated piping integrated into the sleeves of the suit shows the progress of information - from the shift impulse display, for example - out of the steering column over the driver’s arms and into his visor.
The side-section design of the large carbon-fibre seat shells reflects the anatomy of the seated driver, thus providing maximum support in any driving situation. At the same time, the seats ensure the driver’s body has the best possible connection with the car, giving him a physical feel for it with almost his whole body, in any situation, and thus allowing him to react faster and more effectively. The seat shells follow a rising diagonal path rearwards, a line extended behind the seats into the rear by a structural carbon-fibre element that increases the torsional rigidity of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R. The white seat surfaces with fanned-out quilting, integrated into the seat shell, mimic the design of the driver’s race suit, while BMW Motorsport’s signature stripes on the six-point safety harness add an extra splash of colour.
Commitment to lightweight construction and technical refinement
In the area around the driver’s seat, the designers have drawn back the covers on the lightweight design of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R and lent tangible form to its racing character. A carbon-fibre roll cage integrated into the structure of the car’s roof and side sections form the basis for the interior’s singularly minimalist geometry. All the elements in the interior are there out of absolute necessity; every component has been designed with a purpose, a function linked directly to the structure of the machine or the job of driving. In an interior made almost entirely from carbon fibre, the only wood-like presence is the “instrument panel” - actually a cross-member and purely structural element. This is a reference to a central element of the earlier BMW 3.0 CSL, in which even the racing version had distinctive wood trim ringing the whole of the interior.
A particular highlight here is the additional information illuminated through the wood. Recalling the BMW 3.0 CSL’s victory at Laguna Seca in May 1975, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R displays the track layout and braking points through the instrument panel’s wood strip. By using light in this way, this ultra-sophisticated, super-smooth information display removes the need for a classical display and slips perfectly into the car’s minimalist interior design philosophy. Only the small central eBoost charging display interrupts the flow of the otherwise unbroken wooden surface. BMW Motorsport stripes for the instrument panel surround lend extra colour.
The commitment to paring the car down to the bare essentials places particular emphasis on the steering column. As a mechanical link between the driver and car, it is home to all the operating elements and controls. The only “comfort” function are the two vents on the sides of the steering column, which supply the driver with fresh air at ambient temperature. A small display on the steering column provides the driver with secondary information such as lap times, overall race time and the car’s current track position, as required. Other racing elements in the interior include red anodised safety features, such as the outlet nozzles for the fire extinguishing foam, the extinguisher itself, and the two switches on the centre console for the emergency shut-off and fire extinguishing mechanism.
The rear only has space for two helmets integrated into the centre tunnel. These are held in place by a belt when not in use. Underneath the longitudinal braces jutting out to the rear are the covers for the eBoost energy accumulators. Meticulously crafted aluminium sleeves add high-quality accents at the junctions between individual structural elements. In its materials and detailed solutions, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage displays both technical sophistication and subtlety of form.
Motor racing through and through - the exterior
“Both inside and outside, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R is primarily a reflection of its function,” explains Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles. “The exterior and interior design is based around the requirements of motorsport as far as the car and driver are concerned; aerodynamics and driving dynamics, on the one hand, the most direct connection between driver and machine on the other. In my view, that’s something the Hommage car expresses in a very emotional way. At the same time, all the details from the BMW 3.0 CSL are present in the Hommage model. And they are all there to be discovered in their original form. It’s a bow to the 1975 car.”
The exterior design of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R is a pure expression of motor racing. The stretched body is framed by distinctive air deflectors, powerful wheel arches and a prominent rear spoiler, which likewise cite the successful IMSA racing version of the original BMW 3.0 CSL. Every detail of the Hommage car has its origins in the successful racing machine from 1975, but all have since been updated and integrated technically into a modern design language. The colours and graphics used, not to mention the addition of a number 25, reference the extraordinary record of success notched up by the works BMW 3.0 CSL in 1975. Indeed, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R even revives details such as the “Bavarian Motor Works” decals on the windscreen and rear window. Swathes of exposed carbon fibre spotlight the 1975 model’s commitment to lightweight construction and, as a cutting-edge material, bring it into the modern era.
Power and athleticism - the front end
The front end of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R, one of the broadest and lowest of any model in the BMW family, positively exudes power and athleticism. The flow of the surfaces and graphic accents in the front apron showcase the car’s wheels and underline its wide, powerful impression. In the centre of the front end is a large version of the signature BMW kidney grille, which references the upright form favoured at the time. The familiar four-eyed face - with its contemporary, hexagonal interpretation - emphasises the sporting intent of the front end. Laser lighting and LED technology to enable slim, modern light graphics, and the narrow contours of the headlights give the BMW the focused look typical of the brand’s cars.
A stylised, blue-lit “X” inside the lights separates the light functions from one another and, at the same time, recalls the X-shaped headlight taping used for endurance races. The large, black front splitter made from carbon fibre and with accents in BMW Motorsport’s colours sets the seal on the front end as it plunges down to the road. Together with the kidney grille, it creates a large stylistic aperture, providing a visual hint of the engine’s power and performance. From the side, the front apron and kidney grille present a modern take on the shark nose design that was already turning heads in 1975, ensuring the car would be easily recognisable.
From the side - sporting flair with a touch of elegance
The long wheelbase and sweeping bonnet stretch the Hommage car’s silhouette visually and lend it a touch of elegance to go with its dominant sporting brio. The familiar line graphics along the car’s flanks further strengthen this impression. The exclusive exterior colour Brilliant White with its slight metallic effect adds a gleam to the surfaces and lends the powerful contours a vivid sculptural impact. The line graphics in BMW Motorsport colours pick up the surface movements in the front, rear and flanks, further emphasising the car’s sinewy looks. Dark carbon-fibre surfaces round off the flanks at their lower edge and point to the commitment to the lightweight design of the original BMW 3.0 CSL. The matt gold 21-inch light-alloy wheels with black inlays add a special flourish.
The rear end - a muscular presence
The rear of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R makes a statement of maximum sporting intent. The large rear spoiler and carbon-fibre double diffuser are straight out of the racing car blueprint and brim with aerodynamic sophistication. The powerfully contoured rear apron draws the eye to the car’s wheels and, in so doing, visually showcases the power of the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R. The BMW Motorsport line graphics reproduce this movement, further strengthening its muscular presence on the road. The rear light design is particularly distinctive, a strip of LEDs extending along the spoiler to link the two lights and providing a stylistic border for the rear end.
The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R also cuts a dynamically imposing figure when viewed from above. The bonnet fans out in a wide “V” from kidney grille to headlights, recalling a striking and dynamic element of earlier BMW coupes. The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R, therefore, combines all the classic BMW hallmarks within a modern and emotionally rich design language, adding even greater lustre to the already glittering engineering achievement of 40 years ago.