Here is the cost of the BMW E46 M3 CSL today

Here is the cost of the BMW E46 M3 CSL today

When it comes to BMWThe three-letter abbreviation “CSL” holds a great deal of significance. After all, it was stuck at the end of one of the most legendary cars ever created by BMW’s M division: the iconic 3.0 CSL — or “Batmobile,” as it’s often called.

The Batmobile is an icon both on track and on the road, adored by fans for its exterior looks, impressive performance, and racing pedigree – six wins in the European Touring Car Championship between 1963 and 1979, to be exact. For a car to carry the iconic CSL badge, it has a lot to live up to.

Fortunately, the only other car I was privileged enough to do, the E46 M3 CSL, was great. So wonderful, in fact, It is often considered one of the best M cars ever. And it’s not like there was easy competition either. Now you might think of getting such a legendary car at a high price, and you’d be right. The E46 M3 CSL is – and always will be – a true collector’s item, so expect to ditch it a bit if you feel like getting one.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how much a BMW E46 M3 CSL would cost today.

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What makes the E46 M3 CSL so special

The regular E46 M3 certainly wasn’t flabby at first. It came with BMW’s legendary S54, a 3.2-liter inline-six with 338 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It had dual VANOS variable valve timing and a redline 7900 rpm, with BMW Blog Reporting that this means it will scream through the review range to deliver smooth, linear strength. Sixty can be hit in about 5 seconds, and it will reach a top speed of 155 mph, electronically limited. It also has a much improved suspension over the 330ci, with specific springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. As such, its structure was responsive and straightforward, with Evo Reporting that it enabled a great sense of connection between you and the vehicle.


So, then, you might be wondering how you’d start improving on something that was already great, to begin with. To understand this, it is necessary to look at the meaning behind the CSL badge. CSL stands for “Coupé Sport Leichtbau” and stands for Coupé, Sport and Lightweight – the latter is what BMW really focused on, saving 110kg over the standard M3. For example, the roof has been replaced by a carbon fiber roof, while the front diffuser, rear skirt and interior panels are made using lighter composite materials. The rear windows are made of thinner glass as well, and the sound insulation has been removed to save on extra weight. Air conditioning and radio were optional too, but really, the lack of the latter wasn’t too bad when you could Listen to the exhaust note instead.


But it was not only lighter, but also stronger. The valves and camshafts were modified, increasing power by an additional 17 horsepower. There was also a carbon air box added to the engine, Which not only helped save weight, but also gave the car its famous consumption noise. According to some, the only drawback of the CSL was the SMG transmission, Some have even gone so far as to convert them to manual.

In terms of appearance, the changes were minor but still noticeable to enthusiasts. The E46 has always been a spectator anyway, so there wasn’t much need in this department. The trunk gains a curved, integrated spoiler, and the alloys have been swapped out for lighter, fewer 19-inch spokes—which come with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, for added stability.


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How much does an E46 M3 CSL cost today

When CSL was first launched in 2003, it cost about $81,000 — or $115,152.95, if you account for inflation. Only 1,383 CSLs were actually made, and none of them were available in the US, unfortunately – although that didn’t stop people from creating their own certificates of appreciation.

With such a limited number, then – and of course, the fact that it’s amazing – the CSL is a collector’s item, so the prices reflect that. In general, examples will be low mileage, and well looked after, with owners likely to be enthusiasts who use the car on the weekend or use the occasional trail. It’s pretty hard to find one on sale, as you’d expect – and even more so in the US – but prices are trading roughly around the $105,000 mark and very likely to increase over time. Yes, that’s a lot, especially when compared to how little you can get a regular E46 M3 for – around £12,500. But CSL is a completely different animal. It’s one of the toughest BMWs ever, and one that’s worth more than its high price tag.


Next up: Here’s why the BMW E92 M3 is the last M car.

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