“The CSL is magnificent. Like the Isle of Man, it’s a thorn in the side of the nanny state. […] It’s BMW at its absolute best.”

The above is Jeremy Clarkson, summing up his feeling about the BMW M3 CSL—the strategically lightweight edge case of the last-gen M3, offered in 2004 at ⅔ the price and 10× the production volume of the barely faster current-gen M3 GTS—in a Top Gear clip you have no doubt already seen.

But it is a clip worth seeing again and again. It is perhaps the purest expression of the show’s ethos—and by extension every petrolhead’s ethos. It is a political manifesto disguised as a road test. It is also a chance to listen to uninterrupted second after uninterrupted second of the S54B32 engine’s noise recorded with professional equipment.


Photo Credit: Lucian Bickerton