1976 35 CSL Group 5
1976 BMW 3.5 CSL Group 5 ETCC #16 5 36
3,498cc M49/3 inline six-cylinder, 465 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Lance and Diane White
From 1966 to 1982, Group 5 was the classification designated by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for production-based race cars in their most highly-evolved configurations with respect to engines, chassis and aerodynamics. Some cars, like the Porsche 935 and the Ferrari 512 BB LM, were built as Group 5 racers almost from the start; others, like the BMW 3.0 CSL, became Group 5 racers only in their final iterations.
In fact, the CSLs ran in Group 5 specification only after production ended in October 1975, finally getting a new M49/3 engine developed by Josef “Sepp” Schnitzer that made 465 hp at 8,500 rpm and was installed fully upright rather than angled at 30° within the engine bay.
The ETCC had reverted to Group 2 rules for 1976, so the factory-supported Group 5 CSLs ran in the World Championship for Makes. In addition to building its own racers, BMW Motorsport sold parts and even body shells to privateers. One such privateer was BMW dealer and racer Bepp Mayer, who bought a CSL body shell and the full complement of Group 5 aero parts and had them assembled at his shop by Peter Fischer, who’d left Motorsport at the end of 1976. As it was built from parts, it had no BMW-issued VIN or even a Motorsport chassis number, so Mayer stamped it with his birthdate, 16 5 36. Mayer raced it in one national-level race, taking 6th place at Hockenheim on July 11, 1977, but otherwise entered it in club-level races near his hometown of Kleinostheim near Frankfurt.
In 1978, Alf Gebhardt of Tulsa, Oklahoma was looking for a CSL to replace the 2002 he’d been racing since 1975. A native of Germany, Gebhardt was well connected at BMW Motorsport, through which he purchased Mayer’s Group 5 CSL sans engine. Gebhardt fitted it with an M49/3, then campaigned it in IMSA GTX against formidable opposition led by the factory-supported Porsche 935s and BMW NA’s 320 Turbo. Racing in IMSA from 1978 through 1980, the car ended most races with DNFs, but Gephardt is full of praise for it nonetheless. “It was wonderful, the best car I had owned,” Gephardt says. “From a standpoint of manufacture and handling, it was just wonderful. We didn’t have to do anything. BMW did all the work for us.”
Moving on to an M1 for 1981, Gephardt gave the CSL to his departing business partner, Hal Davey, who painted it red and raced it with the SCCA, primarily at Hallett. It passed through the garages of Richard Conway, Arthur Porter, Brad Krause (who restored it to its current state), and Greg Galdi before landing with its current owners, Lance and Diane White.