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      10-23-2018, 07:01 PM   #1
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Origins of BMW CS & CSL Models

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With the introduction of the F82 M4 CS, the F80 M3 CS, and talk of possible future CS and CSL models, I found it fitting to take a brief stroll down memory lane, to explore the origins of the CS and CSL badges.




The Ancestor to the 6 Series and 8 Series Coupes

The story begins with the BMW Neue Klasse (En: New Class) of the 1960s that brought about some pretty classy yet sporty coupes into BMW's portfolio.
The Neue Klasse Coupes, as they would be known collectively, had model designations such as BMW 2000 C and BMW 2000 CS, for example, where "C" = Coupe and "CS" = Coupe Sport, denoting the sportier version.


By the time the Neue Klasse Coupe was succeeded by the E9 Coupe, the 2800 CS had replaced both of the aforementioned badges and the new 3.0 CS and 3.0 CSi (where "i" = fuel injected) were introduced.


The 3.0 CSL & the Birth of BMW Motorsport GmbH

It was also around this time, that BMW began to set its sights on touring car racing.
A small racing department within BMW, which would later be incorporated as BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1972, looked to expertise from ALPINA, which was very successful in touring car racing at the time.
In comes the CSL.
Building onto the nomenclature, where there was a CS (Coupe Sport) model, this new race car would be dubbed the Coupe Sport Leicht, or CSL.
The birth of the CSL badge on the 3.0 CSL would be remembered as BMW Motorsport's first successful project where the 3.0 CSL is now often a synonymous, metaphorical reference to the birth of BMW M.

CSL = Coupe Sport Leicht (En: Coupe Sport Light[weight])



"C" is for Coupe

From this point forward, the "CSL" name would take a hiatus for several decades while in subsequent generations, the place occupied by the E9 Coupes would eventually evolve into the E24 6 Series Coupe (and later as the E31 8 Series Coupe) as BMW simplified its nomenclature (i.e., 02 -> E21 3 Series, Neue Klasse Sedans -> E12 5 Series, New Six/E3 -> E23 7 Series).
The traditional naming scheme (utilizing "C" for Coupe, "S" for Sport, "i" for fuel injection) would be retained in the suffix of the Coupe models, such as 635 CSi, 840 Ci, 850 CSi.




This naming system later extended to all two-door models, where BMW Coupes and Cabriolets of all shapes and sizes (incl. 3 Series Coupes/Cabriolets), continued to use the "C" suffix as a denotation of its body style (i.e., 330 Ci, 645 Ci) well into the mid-2000s.




CSL Reborn as a BMW M3

This status quo went on for a while, and then, after a long hiatus, the "CSL" moniker would be resurrected as a special model, the E46 M3 CSL in 2003.


After such a long absence, "CSL" had effectively become obscure in the memory of the mainstream, where the M Badge had effectively become the most coveted badge that had an instant prestige that carried BMW Motorsport's pedigree and fame with it, .
Of course, BMW intended to reserve "CSL" for special occasions henceforth and BMW sought to draw the connection of "CSL" between its new Motorsport division 3 Series product and the 3.0 CSL (a 6 Series predecessor).


CS Moniker Returns, Sort Of...

After a brief run of the M3 CSL, where it was widely successful with both press and enthusiasts, BMW found demand for some of the improvements found on the M3 CSL in a more accessible package.
The M3 with Competition Package (option code: ZCP) was introduced with improvements from the M3 CSL parts bin, such as a shorter steering ratio, larger rotor disks, M Track Mode, alcantara steering wheel, etc.
In the United Kingdom, the M3 equipped with ZCP was sold as the M3 CS (sans CS badge), but through this success, the "CS"/Coupe Sport name, for the first time, was applied to a BMW M3, albeit only on a quasi-official basis.


Reinterpretation of CS & CSL
While the CSL name hasn't made an official return since the E46 M3 CSL (subsequent special M3/4s were named GTS, CRT), in 2017, the CS name made its official debut/return on the BMW M4 CS and, shortly after, the BMW M3 CS was also introduced.


"C" for Competition?
With the F80 M3 CS, we see BMW apply the CS name to a 4-door sedan for the first time.
This time, the CS models are positioned above the Competition Package M3/M4 models, and below the theoretical M3/M4 CSL (which has yet to officially return).
It was natural to reinterpret the CS name, based on the current hierarchy, that CS no longer stands for Coupe Sport, but rather Competition Sport.


What to expect in the future?
It's safe to say that BMW was slowly establishing a hierarchy within its M model range with the F-chassis models.
With the G-chassis, I suspect this structure will be matured into a concrete hierarchy, where it will probably look as follows (using the 4 Series/M4 as an example):
  • 430i
  • 430i (w/ M Sport package)
  • M440i
  • M4
  • M4 Competition
  • M4 CS
  • M4 CSL
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      10-24-2018, 09:58 AM   #2
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Great summary and even better pictures, thanks.

There is some inconsistency in BMW's badging strategy, even at the same time. E.g.
630CS and 633CSi, mimicking the names of the older coupé
635CSi took over from 633CSi with more sporting pretensions (but not "M")
M635CSi - a full-fat M - indeed formally badged referred to simultaneously in some places as "M6"
The 635CSi gave way to the 850i in 1989 - was originally badged as 850i and didn't become 850Ci until 1994-ish after the 840Ci appeared
The 850CSi was another example of "nearly M" but not badged as such
The E30 two-doors weren't coupés at all, the E36 coupés didn't have the "C" in the name, the E46s did, then the E92s didn't again, and the F3x coupé had a different number altogether

As well as C, CS and CSi/A/L badges, there are examples of nearly-M or M-lite cars with no M badges or some M badges, M before and after the name or number, M with a single number which normally indicates full M-ness but isn't quite, M-lite cars and non-M-lite cars that exist simultaneously with identical running gear...
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      10-24-2018, 01:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottAndrew View Post
Great summary and even better pictures, thanks.

There is some inconsistency in BMW's badging strategy, even at the same time. E.g.
630CS and 633CSi, mimicking the names of the older coupé
635CSi took over from 633CSi with more sporting pretensions (but not "M")
M635CSi - a full-fat M - indeed formally badged referred to simultaneously in some places as "M6"
The 635CSi gave way to the 850i in 1989 - was originally badged as 850i and didn't become 850Ci until 1994-ish after the 840Ci appeared
The 850CSi was another example of "nearly M" but not badged as such
The E30 two-doors weren't coupés at all, the E36 coupés didn't have the "C" in the name, the E46s did, then the E92s didn't again, and the F3x coupé had a different number altogether

As well as C, CS and CSi/A/L badges, there are examples of nearly-M or M-lite cars with no M badges or some M badges, M before and after the name or number, M with a single number which normally indicates full M-ness but isn't quite, M-lite cars and non-M-lite cars that exist simultaneously with identical running gear...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you'd be right about the inconsistencies.

For example, the 850CSi was a full-fledged product of BMW M with a "WBS" VIN prefix indicating as such as well as an S-series motor (S70B56), but sans the M-badge in the model designation. Of course, we now know that the reason can be partly attributed to the fact that M GmbH had an M8 in the works, a project that was ultimately scrapped, leaving the 850CSi as the highest-tiered 8 Series.


Of course, the M635CSi was a M-car through and through, where it is essentially the first generation M6 and actually sold as such in Japan and North America alongside the first M5.


The E30 two-door (incl. M3) of course, as you already mentioned, wasn't a "coupe" by definition at all. It was actually a two-door sedan (same as the E21 and 02 Series BMWs), hence "sports sedan". Naturally, then, it is easy to understand why the "C" suffix wouldn't be applied to the E30 two-door models, since they weren't coupes by definition.
This is a difference not a lot of people are aware of, and I had, at one time, attempted to explain it here.



The E36 two-door is interesting, because, for the first time, the 3 Series two-door was being marketed and referred to as a coupé. But this is where the lines are kind of blurred (grey area, so to speak). Some contemporary literature continued to refer to/classify the E36 coupé as two-door sedan, or through indirect references, such as calling the E36 M3 Coupé a "sports sedan". I would argue that during the E36-E46 generations, the 3 Series Coupe was kind of both sedan and coupé...a sort of compact, sports, coupé-sedan thing. For all intents and purposes, the greenhouse & roofline of both E36 & E46 two-doors were fairly upright (i.e., not sloped) and the seating accommodated a five passengers (not 2+2). They very much continued on with the same formula as the E30 two-door.
But of course, as we all know, the E46 two-door would be marketed as a coupé with its model designations even gaining the "C" suffix and by now, colloquial usage of the word "coupé" evolved to basically mean any fixed-top car with two doors.



With the E90 generation, the seeds of change were finally planted.
The 3 Series coupé would become a true coupé by definition, with an entirely different exterior design, 2+2 seating, sloping coupé roofline, and a separate internal designation (E92 in this case)
In fact, there were early rumors that the E92 would be separated into its own model series (i.e., 4 Series).



Henceforth, the "C" designation in model names became redundant and irrelevant. BMW decided soon after that models that would be marketed as coupés would be separated into their own Series (i.e., 2, 4, 6, 8), rendering the "C" suffix, largely obsolete.
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      10-24-2018, 05:25 PM   #4
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I like how every BMW that's borne the CSL badge has been nothing short of legendary. Granted, they've only been two, but 2 for 2 is still 100%

BMW has ruined a lot of its heritage, but at least they've still got that.

Of course, as I type this, a bmw exec is prolly reading this and saying, "hold my beer".
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      10-24-2018, 05:33 PM   #5
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Great post!

Also worth mentioning that both full CSL models have traditionally been very expensive; relative to their era and in comparison to lesser models. They generally moved the cars into the next pricing bracket.
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      10-26-2018, 05:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Law View Post
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you'd be right about the inconsistencies.

The E36 two-door is interesting, because, for the first time, the 3 Series two-door was being marketed and referred to as a coupé. But this is where the lines are kind of blurred (grey area, so to speak). Some contemporary literature continued to refer to/classify the E36 coupé as two-door sedan, or through indirect references, such as calling the E36 M3 Coupé a "sports sedan". I would argue that during the E36-E46 generations, the 3 Series Coupe was kind of both sedan and coupé...a sort of compact, sports, coupé-sedan thing. For all intents and purposes, the greenhouse & roofline of both E36 & E46 two-doors were fairly upright (i.e., not sloped) and the seating accommodated a five passengers (not 2+2). They very much continued on with the same formula as the E30 two-door.
But of course, as we all know, the E46 two-door would be marketed as a coupé with its model designations even gaining the "C" suffix and by now, colloquial usage of the word "coupé" evolved to basically mean any fixed-top car with two doors.



With the E90 generation, the seeds of change were finally planted.
The 3 Series coupé would become a true coupé by definition, with an entirely different exterior design, 2+2 seating, sloping coupé roofline, and a separate internal designation (E92 in this case)
In fact, there were early rumors that the E92 would be separated into its own model series (i.e., 4 Series).



Henceforth, the "C" designation in model names became redundant and irrelevant. BMW decided soon after that models that would be marketed as coupés would be separated into their own Series (i.e., 2, 4, 6, 8), rendering the "C" suffix, largely obsolete.
Great pictures - real blast from the past!

Autocar (a very old motoring magazine in the UK) announced breathlessly in 1990 that the next 3-series 2-door would be called the 4 series. They also announced that in 1998, and again in 2006. Fourth time lucky . To be fair, although the E36 coupé wasn't that rakish, it did have a lower roofline than the saloon, there is much less airspace between the top of the instrument binnacle and the inside of the front screen, and the front wings are quite a bit longer. And those frameless doors and generous glasshouse bringing to mind the E24 coupe, which looks more 2-door sedan-like in hindsight!

In lighter colours (not dark grey, blue or black anyway), with the dark grey sills making the body appear shallower and longer, it was pretty elegant to look at:



Good point about the E92 coupé seating only 4, not 5.
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      10-29-2018, 07:20 AM   #7
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Last week we had on main page news was F90 M5 CS
And I said Coupe Sport and some disagreed. Lol
Thanks for posting
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      10-29-2018, 08:16 AM   #8
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History lessons for the millennial bimwad...
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      10-29-2018, 08:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by M3 Adjuster View Post
History lessons for the millennial bimwad...
If you are real car enthusiast and M fan you need to know this!!!
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      10-29-2018, 08:21 AM   #10
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Great post!

Scott26 posted this image years ago in regards to future tiers of M cars.
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      10-29-2018, 09:05 AM   #11
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Well explained
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      10-29-2018, 09:23 AM   #12
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When I went to M Certification class they told us that CS and CSL are making a come back in future models.
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      10-29-2018, 09:59 AM   #13
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I also feel the notion that all the variants being offered from first release will help overall depreciation concerns a bit. Like releasing a comp 8 months after base release falsely depreciates that base model as most of the original buyers would not have checked the comp box due to cost anyways. As it stands now it's easy to say the comp(or whatever variant) is the "better" version thus taking away from base model, when in fact they all hold a purpose. We will see.
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      10-29-2018, 10:18 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NH_F36 View Post
When I went to M Certification class they told us that CS and CSL are making a come back in future models.
Great news, I just really hope the new CSL is better received than the current GTS. Drop the nav , PDC and HUD. Think hard about a huge wing or make it easy to drop off unbolt for street use. The CSL should not be a pure track only weapon, has to be also street-able like the E46csl.
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      10-29-2018, 11:49 AM   #15
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The newest rendition of a CS ?
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      10-29-2018, 06:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NH_F36 View Post
When I went to M Certification class they told us that CS and CSL are making a come back in future models.
M certification class... ///Mpressive!
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      10-29-2018, 07:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Adjuster View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH_F36 View Post
When I went to M Certification class they told us that CS and CSL are making a come back in future models.
M certification class... ///Mpressive!
Safety First M_School
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      10-29-2018, 07:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Law View Post
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and you'd be right about the inconsistencies.

For example, the 850CSi was a full-fledged product of BMW M with a "WBS" VIN prefix indicating as such as well as an S-series motor (S70B56), but sans the M-badge in the model designation. Of course, we now know that the reason can be partly attributed to the fact that M GmbH had an M8 in the works, a project that was ultimately scrapped, leaving the 850CSi as the highest-tiered 8 Series.


Of course, the M635CSi was a M-car through and through, where it is essentially the first generation M6 and actually sold as such in Japan and North America alongside the first M5.


The E30 two-door (incl. M3) of course, as you already mentioned, wasn't a "coupe" by definition at all. It was actually a two-door sedan (same as the E21 and 02 Series BMWs), hence "sports sedan". Naturally, then, it is easy to understand why the "C" suffix wouldn't be applied to the E30 two-door models, since they weren't coupes by definition.
This is a difference not a lot of people are aware of, and I had, at one time, attempted to explain it here.



The E36 two-door is interesting, because, for the first time, the 3 Series two-door was being marketed and referred to as a coupé. But this is where the lines are kind of blurred (grey area, so to speak). Some contemporary literature continued to refer to/classify the E36 coupé as two-door sedan, or through indirect references, such as calling the E36 M3 Coupé a "sports sedan". I would argue that during the E36-E46 generations, the 3 Series Coupe was kind of both sedan and coupé...a sort of compact, sports, coupé-sedan thing. For all intents and purposes, the greenhouse & roofline of both E36 & E46 two-doors were fairly upright (i.e., not sloped) and the seating accommodated a five passengers (not 2+2). They very much continued on with the same formula as the E30 two-door.
But of course, as we all know, the E46 two-door would be marketed as a coupé with its model designations even gaining the "C" suffix and by now, colloquial usage of the word "coupé" evolved to basically mean any fixed-top car with two doors.



With the E90 generation, the seeds of change were finally planted.
The 3 Series coupé would become a true coupé by definition, with an entirely different exterior design, 2+2 seating, sloping coupé roofline, and a separate internal designation (E92 in this case)
In fact, there were early rumors that the E92 would be separated into its own model series (i.e., 4 Series).



Henceforth, the "C" designation in model names became redundant and irrelevant. BMW decided soon after that models that would be marketed as coupés would be separated into their own Series (i.e., 2, 4, 6, 8), rendering the "C" suffix, largely obsolete.
Great article-wondering what the original price range of the 8CS-the one pictured on the track might be? Thx
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      10-29-2018, 09:28 PM   #19
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Great article-wondering what the original price range of the 8CS-the one pictured on the track might be? Thx
The top picture is the one-off 1990 M8 prototype.
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      10-29-2018, 10:06 PM   #20
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BMW Motorsport GmbH did not develop the 3.0 CSL. A recent BMWCCA article explains that it was Alpina that developed the 3.0 CSL. GmbH's contribution was the "Batmobile" aero-package.

Alpina started developing the CSL in 1970. The final specs were settled upon in 1971. Lutz established GmbH in 1972 when he showed up.

To leave this out of the history of the CSL seems a little odd.
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      10-30-2018, 02:23 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Horns! View Post
BMW Motorsport GmbH did not develop the 3.0 CSL. A recent BMWCCA article explains that it was Alpina that developed the 3.0 CSL. GmbH's contribution was the "Batmobile" aero-package.

Alpina started developing the CSL in 1970. The final specs were settled upon in 1971. Lutz established GmbH in 1972 when he showed up.

To leave this out of the history of the CSL seems a little odd.
Thanks for pointing out that detail.

It must've been my wording in the original post. It wasn't the intention.
In any case, I've fixed the OP to correct the misunderstanding.

ALPINA was indeed tasked with spearheading the development of the 3.0 CSL, since they were the contemporary BMW experts in touring car racing.
To BMW's credit, the racing department (and the people) within BMW that facilitated this cooperation & development would be later formally incorporated as BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1972 as more key people joined the division.
So while the 3.0 CSL does predate the formal establishment of BMW Motorsport GmbH, that doesn't mean the department/division itself didn't exist in the CSL's development.
It's still widely considered that the 3.0 CSL is BMW M's "first" creation. Not the first BMW to bear the M Badge, but the car that marked the birth of BMW M.
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      10-30-2018, 04:17 AM   #22
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Great post.

Thanks for sharing!
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