M3 CSL Lightweight
most collectible M3 of the '90s is an E36 M3 specially prepared by
be a heavyweight on the racetrack, you must first be a lightweight.
you ever see a racer with a back seat or a spare tire? These items add
weight, so they are removed.
1995, BMW produced a limited number of lightweight M3's. The factory started
with an E36 M3 and then removed practically everything
not needed for competition. True to their sporting past, these M3's were dubbed
CSL's - for Coupe Sport Light - and they were reminiscent of the famous
racing CSL's of the '70s.
for a larger image
M3 Lightweights were reduced weight vehicles, yet they were fully equipped for
the road. They were only made in Alpine White, with colorful Motorsport racing
flags on the front and rear. Today, the Lightweights are the rarest
of the late model M3's.
1995 BMW M3 Lightweight was an E36 M3 designed for performance enthusiasts and
racing teams. This M3 was modified and specially equipped to be a base production
car for drivers and teams competing in motorsport events. Yet the car had to
be capable of being driven on the road.
Here's what was eliminated:
noise reduction mats
tire and jack
Here's what was retained:
power windows were kept since they were necessary for BMW's unique door
glass sealing system.
Here's what was added to the vehicle:
rear axle ratio of 3.23:1
large strut brace connecting the front shock towers
X-brace assembly to hold the entire front end together
underbody X-Brace and Motorsport strut brace were included to stiffen
the front chassis to counteract the body flex that can occur during cornering.
weight savings was about 200 to 300 pounds over a stock M3. The savings varied
depending on which of the performance options were added by the customer.
BMW took other steps to improve the performance and handling of the car:
improve performance, the M50 B30 3.0-liter engine was hand picked by BMW engineers.
Reportedly, production engines were tested, and only those with the best performance
numbers found their way into the M3 Lightweight.
top speed limit was removed from the ECU.
rear differential was increased to 3.23 over the 3.15 found on the stock M3.
This increase improved the low-end torque, providing quicker acceleration.
improve the handling, stiffer springs were standard and a strut brace was
installed. A common add-on for BMW's, the brace connects the front shock towers
to make the car more rigid. An adjustable air dam in conjunction with a rear
spoiler was also included to increase down force.
placed several options in the trunk, which the user could install if desired.
Why did they put them in the trunk? Because if BMW found out they were installed,
it would void your warranty!
for racing only, the performance options were:
oil pan with a dual pickup. The dual pickup helped ensure constant oil
flow in hard cornering.
non-DOT spoiler to increase down force. The spoiler does have a penalty
of a few mph at high speeds.
spoiler included an upper GT Race wing with two spacers. The spacers
could be used to raise the upper wing further into the air stream if
desired, like in the above picture.
M3 Lightweight also had several lesser-known standard features including:
oil vapor separator to reclaim oil that would otherwise burn off under high
unique set of lightweight, forged 17" alloy wheels.
springs than the stock M3.
the 1995 model year, BMW only produced 120 to 125 of these cars. Only 85
cars made it to the USA. It is only recently that enthusiasts have recognized
these cars for what they're worth, and today they are in high demand and
quite collectible. Rarely do you see one for sale.
World M3 links:
was created to help owners come together and help form a registry. There are
high resolution pictures of the owner's car.
has M3 Lightweight info, tuning tips, and specifications.
CCA Boston club has several photos of M3 Lightweight's in autocross, rally
and other events.
Motorsport has featured pages on M3 Lightweight's and they have parts
If you like the M3 Lightweight
decals, you can get them for your
car from Rocky Mountain Motorworks.
Seeks Thinner Air article from the Roundel.
is A.C. Schnitzer's answer to the M3 Lightweight.
Front Splitter on an M3 Lightweight text and photos. Click
here for service information.
has a few pictures.
Am PDF is an excellent source of M3 Lightweight specifications.
is an email with facts and figures about the M3 Lightweight.
Info on M3 Lightweight