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BMW CSL, Ford Capri and Porsche Carrera: The hottest six-cylinder of the 70s

Rossen Gargolov
BMW CSL, Ford Capri and Porsche Carrera
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B MW 3.0 CSL, Ford Capri RS 2600 and Porsche Carrera RS stand next to each other - in front of the three sports cars there is an approximately 1,000-meter-long runway. 1,000 meters of asphalt that knows nothing but extreme acceleration and braking maneuvers. The operators of Fürstenfeldbruck airport are watching the unusual formation at the end of the runway with interest.

Three impressive six-cylinders

In the next moment, a Porsche Carrera 2.7 RS, a Ford Capri storm RS 2600 and a BMW 3.0 CSL in close formation over the broad straight. Driven by perfectly warmed-up six-cylinder engines, which can let off steam in every gear until just before the red zone. As they drive past, this trio leaves such a moving acoustic impression that all onlookers are on the verge of applauding.

At the end of the track, a turning maneuver, immediately afterwards the cars come to a standstill. Three civil homologation models, stronger and lighter than their respective series relatives: At the beginning of the 1970s, BMW, Ford and Porsche subjected their hottest models to another radical treatment in order to obtain a promising basis for racing.

Lightweight BMW is the rarest

The bright yellow, 200 hp BMW 3.0 CSL (the L stands for lightweight construction) from 1973 as the rarest bolide of this trio. If you add the slightly earlier 169 carburettor CSLs with 180 hp and the 176 copies of the last CSL variant with 3,153 cm³ and 206 hp, you get a total of 1,265 vehicles, which were finally made by BMW Motorsport GmbH, founded in 1973 under the management of Jochen Neerpasch have been slimmed down sustainably. Purpose of the company: BMW wanted to finally capture the Ford Capri in Group 2 of the German racing championship.

Accordingly, Neerpasch and his team went down to business with the internally known E9 CS Coupé. Almost every component of the BMW was weighed in and - if possible - replaced by a lighter one. Motorsport GmbH made the bonnet, doors and trunk lids from aluminum, as did the roof, the partition wall to the luggage compartment and the wheel archesas well as the front and rear side walls made of thin sheet metal. Only plexiglass was used for the rear and side windows, the lifting mechanisms of the hoods were replaced by simple holding rods and the comfortable armchairs for the driver and co-pilot were replaced by lightweight bucket seats. Even the on-board tools were a bit sparsely stocked than in the series coupé.
Other items were marked as useless ballast and immediately left out - the front bumper, the electric windows, the power steering and almost all of the insulation material. The bottom line was that around 235 kilograms fell by the wayside - with a new total weight of 1,165 kilograms, a BMW 3.0 CSL was definitely a top athlete.

Its distinguishing features compared to the production version: black glued-on side stripes with the CSL lettering and wheel arch chrome. The latter causes the fenders to widen by two centimeters each - urgently needed space for the seven-inch wide alloy wheels.

Does not take a breather - three liters -Inline six pulls like a bull at up to 218 km /h

The powerful engine from the BMW CS Coupé remained almost untouched. Only the use of pistons and cylinders of the second oversize ensured an effective displacement of 3,003 cm³. Without any insulation material, a sonorous rumble penetrates the cabin even at idle. However, the pitch changes when the car really gets going. Then the machine hisses in bright tones and drives the BMW 3.0 CSL from zero to 100 in 7.1 seconds. You can still be proud of that today. The three-liter six-cylinder craves gas and quick gear changes via the precisely shifted gearbox. And pulls like a bull. Whether you are at 80 or 180 km /h - it just keeps moving. Up to the top speed of 218 things, making the BMW 3.0 CSL almost impossible to catch up.

Many modern units can still use the BMW 3.0 CSL engine as a benchmark today. Even at speeds beyond the 5,000 mark, this engine does not seem overly strained, but rather inspires with a unique, velvety smooth running culture. One last time in the BMW 3.0 CSL on the runway. The sporty, tightly tuned chassis, equipped with progressive springs, harder Bilstein shock absorbers and a differential with 25 percent locking effect, almost seduces you into daring slalom maneuvers (the author is storming up an alpine pass in his mind).

The BMW 3.0 CSL behaves very neutrally for a very long time, defends a course once taken like a lioness her offspring. If the rear of the car threatens to break away, it is enough to make minor corrections to the steering wheel in order not to lose traction at the last minute.

Ford-V6: A lot of effort for 25 extra horsepower

Vehicle change. Get out of the BMW 3.0CSL, into the Ford Capri RS 2600. Only now does you get the feeling of sitting in a real sports car. Which is not due to the retrofitted cage and the four-point racing harness. But because of the seated position that feels at least 50 centimeters lower. The hands reach for a tiny, deeply cupped steering wheel, and the gaze is fixed on a matte black cockpit. Against the coolness in the comparatively narrow Ford Capri RS 2600, a BMW 3.0 CSL as a family-friendly sedan with a good dose of feel-good atmosphere goes through.

The Ford Capri RS 2600 also sounds angrier, more promising even when idling. As if he wanted to tell the world through the two tailpipes of his exhaust system that, as a spruced up base for racing with 150 hp, he finally had the power that matched the appearance of the Ford Capri - until the presentation of the Capri RS 2600 in autumn In 1970, 125 hp marked the end of the flagpole. Too little to be taken really seriously.

The engine of the Ford Capri 2600 GT had to serve as the basis for the drive under the long hood, the displacement of which was increased to 2,637 cm³. But unlike the BMW engine, major tuning measures were required here: First a higher compression, a Kugelfischer injection pump coordinated by the British performance specialist Weslake and a manifold brought the desired power.

A RS is incredibly fast. Always.

The Ford Capri RS 2600 chassis received Bilstein gas pressure shock absorbers and was lowered by 25 mm. In combination with the six inch wide aluminum rims and the dark colored hood of all RS models, a Ford Capri RS must have looked as powerful in the rearview mirrors as a vehicle from Batman's fleet. Almost 5,000 RS are said to have been created. The person responsible for this project was the young Jochen Neerpasch - before he switched to BMW.

Off to the train and recharge. The first impression? A Ford Capri RS 2600 is terribly fast. Always. That it is inferior to the 50 hp more powerful BMW in pulling power and at top speed - sponge about it. Anyone who was annoyed about it could buy Plexiglas windows and plastic parts for the hoods and doors from the Ford dealerships. The car weight could thus be reduced from 1,050 to 890 kilograms.

Second impression: Such a tightly tuned Ford Capri RS 2600 doesn't give a damn about comfort, and its rigid rear axle just doesn't like bad roads. On the other hand, he is a gifted drifter, one who literally longs for the next corner and at the end mutates into a star in every show curve with his backside slightly hanging out. Ford asked for 15,800 marks for this macho racing car. A special offer for so much driving pleasure.

Fastest production car 1973:Porsche Carrera RS 2.7

At 33,000 marks, a Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 cost more than twice as much. But this over-911 with the distinctive rear spoiler ran 240 kilometers per hour - in 1973 it was the fastest production car in the country for a long time. 500 copies would have been enough for homologation. But when the fans of the brand were on the verge of going mad with desire, Porsche came out with another 1,080 Porsche Carrera RS. Quite a few would pledge house and yard for such a 911 in Grand Prix white with green Carrera lettering.

Everything in the Porsche Carrera RS is designed for speed. More power, of course. For this purpose, the 190 hp boxer from the Porsche 911 S 2.4 was drilled out to 2.7 liters. And less weight, of course. Thinner sheet metal for the body, thin glass, no insulation material and an interior as sparse as a monk's cell. Even the cockpit clock and the sun visor for the copilot fell victim to this radical treatment. As do the door openers. They were exchanged for the leather straps of a Fiat 600. The result of slimming was 210 healthy horsepower with a vehicle weight of 1,010 kilograms. This is how you set standards.

Most Porsche Carrera RS customers probably didn't want their car to be that spartan after all. They decided on the fully equipped touring version, which also adorns the photo model. The most obvious difference (besides the clock and the sun visor): upholstered seats instead of bare tubs. This made the car 2,000 marks more expensive, around 100 kilograms heavier and 0.6 seconds slower in the standard sprint. But still unrivaled.

The Beetle drives in thought with

on the left of the steering wheel of the Porsche Carrera RS the key is already in the ignition lock. One turn and the fuel pump hums. One more turn and the six-cylinder boxer jumps into action, immediately attacking with an aggressive thud. It is all the more amazing how easy it is to set such a sports car in motion. Clutch, gearshift, steering - everything like the Beetle. Somehow at least.

However, from 3,000 revolutions the memory of the bestseller from Wolfsburg fades. Banished by this unique hiss from the stern, which penetrates the brain like a clear message: step on the gas, now! The tachometer shoots towards the 6,000 mark, second gear, this time to six-five; third gear, the foot pushes through fully. There it is, this inimitable scream. Hoarse and angry. My God, how did they manage that at Porsche? The end of the train is coming too quickly. The Porsche Carrera RS turns almost on the spot. He is completely alien to side tilt and every steering command is implemented directly. You can feel immediately that curves suit him, especially fast ones.

The imaginary alpine pass has to serve one last time, then it's over for today. Or almost.One more time. Feel this engine just once, turn down the gears. Carrera drug. A couple of sprints over a cordoned runway are enough and you're on it. Just because. Back to the other two who are already lined up waiting for the Porsche for the photo production. What a trio! The stripped BMW 3.0 CSL - timelessly elegant and full of power. The Capri RS 2600 with its brutal muscle car charm. The Porsche Carrera RS as the ultimate 911 offshoot. It's hard not to applaud.


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