The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California never fails to get us out of our seats with a heady mixture of wonder and excitement over the most exclusive, high-tech and beautiful four-wheeled machines on the planet. This year, the world-famous US extravaganza of motoring excellence plays host once again to Europe’s best-known premium marques, including BMW. The trans-Atlantic connection is a significant one for the Bavarian giants, who this year celebrate the 40th anniversary of BMW in North America.
The Bavarians certainly know how to celebrate in style, as anyone who has experienced Octoberfest will no doubt testify. BMW has not disappointed in this department, marking its historic American milestone by unveiling a very special retro track car in tribute to one of the first European race cars to take North American circuits by storm; the 3.0 CSL.
Headed for Pebble Beach, the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R is effectively a very big and very bold nod in the direction of its exalted ancestor. Based on the BMW E9 platform first seen in 1968, the 3.0 CSL was a lightweight, high performance coupé homologated specially for the European Touring Car Championship. After a spell of domination on this side of the pond, the 3.0 CSL headed off to spearhead BMW’s entrance into the North American market. More success followed as the car nicknamed the ‘Batmobile’ thanks to its striking aerodynamic package registered memorable wins at Leguna Seca and Sebring. This culminated in victory in the 1975 IMSA series manufacturers’ championship in what was BMW’s rookie year. The German powerhouse had made quite an arrival stateside.
Fast-forward 40 years and the 3.0 CSL Hommage R is set to rekindle that racing heritage in its own inimitably space-age fashion. One of the prerequisites for any Pebble Beach exhibit is that is absolutely has to look the part. The Hommage R does exactly that – and then some.
The original machine’s trademark flared wheel arches, air deflectors and towering rear spoiler are the Hommage R’s standout styling cues, likewise the larger and more upright interpretation of the signature BMW kidney grille. The 3.0 CSL’s brilliant white livery was, and still is, nothing short of iconic. In keeping with tradition, the familiar colours of BMW Motorsport adorn the 2015 model in the form of sweeping stripes that trace the Hommage R’s muscular lines from the carbon-fibre front splitter all the way back to the aerodynamically optimised rear spoiler and double diffuser. The masterpiece is topped off with an eye-catching LED light strip extending along the rear spoiler plus matt gold 21-inch alloy wheels.
The innovative design is by no means restricted to the outside withBMW holding back the Hommage R’s main party piece for the carbon-fibre-clad interior. Track layout and braking points are illuminated through the instrument panel’s wooden strip, a more subtle throwback to the interior trim of the 1975 car. However, the most high tech gizmo of all is not strictly a part of the car but rather part of the driver. It is the 3.0 CSL’s remarkable interactive crash helmet featuring a full-blown digital HUD built in to the visor that will display the car’s speed, gear and engine revs into the driver’s field of view. This video game-style gadgetry is mated to the driver’s race suit. Illuminated piping in the suit’s sleeves lights up with every gearshift, funnelling information out of the steering column, over the driver’s arms and into the visor. This is driving TRON style.
The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage R will line up at the Pebble Beach Concours next month during Monterey Car Week. We consider it a beautiful and fitting tribute to the car that started kick-started BMW’s fortunes in the States with its heroic performances on the track 40 years ago.