Since reviving the prestigious Villa d’Este event on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, BMW has historically used the venue to showcase its newest concepts. Some — such as the Mini Vision Superleggera concept by Touring, the 7 Series-based Gran Coupe by Pininfarina and the BMW Zagato Coupe — have been developed in collaboration with respected Italian coachbuilders, but this year the company decided to go at it alone, designing the 3.0 CSL Hommage as a tribute to the incredible 1972 E9 3.0 CSL, a homologation special created to ensure eligibility in the European Touring Car Championship.
“For BMW designers like us, the BMW 3.0 CSL is a style icon. Its combination of racing genes and elegance generates an engaging aesthetic that continues to win hearts even today,” says Head of Design for BMW Automobiles, Karim Habib. “The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage celebrates many of those characteristic features, but without copying them. Indeed, some of the parallels are not immediately obvious. We wanted people to sense the family resemblance rather than see it straight off.”
The new Hommage concept is a futuristic vision of the E9 3.0 CSL, adorned with elements that recall its forbear — its DLO shape, Gulf Yellow and black colorway and BMW logo on each C-pillar are all from the original. As a nod to the past, the lazer headlamps also feature an X graphic for a visual link to the taped headlamps of classic racing cars.
The new car however adds floating surfaces to communicate its lightweight, race car intent. The front fender forms tuck into the top of the hood and the rear fenders blend seamlessly into the rear spoiler. But while aluminum was the material of choice for its forbear, the new car employs carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The material envelops the entire car — its front and rear fenders are made of the lightweight material – while the body is underscored, literally, with integrated carbon fiber skirts providing a window to the side exhaust outlets.
The pronounced fender forms are aerodynamic aids, forming a gap between the main structure to guide air through and stabilize the vehicle at speed whilst simultaneously feeding air into the engine compartment for cooling. The massive rear wing, which graphically links both taillamps together, increases downforce while a second spoiler at the rear edge of the roof and the wings over the rear wheels ensure optimum airflow around the car.
Pared down to a minimum, the interior is all about lightweight and racing, though the removable DTM-inspired steering wheel begs to differ. Every element in the minimalist cabin, which is created almost entirely in CFRP, has a design, structural or drive-related function. A central display on the steering column is the only visual element to detract from the road ahead, informing the driver of vital information such as the current gear, speed, revs and shift point. The E9 interior was mostly adorned with wood, so as a nod to the original car designers placed wood trim over the IP cross-member and stitched in M colors at each end to lend a little glamour to what it strictly a structural element. Only the central E-boost meter interrupts its flow from one end of the cabin to the other.
“Our Hommage cars not only demonstrate how proud we are of our heritage, but also how important the past can be in determining our future,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage represents a nod to the engineering achievement exemplified by the BMW 3.0 CSL in its lightweight design and performance. With intelligent lightweight construction and modern materials, the 3.0 CSL Hommage brings the character of that earlier model into the 21st century, showing it in a new and exciting guise.”
Revealing concept cars such as the 3.0 CSL Hommage away from the traditional auto show circuit has two obvious advantages: the company ensures the new car won’t have to share the limelight and, better still for spectators, it provides a chance to see the car in natural light and in motion. This year did not disappoint.