A brace of BMWs and a look into the Munich marque's competition future
When the BMW factory announced their withdrawal from official factory competition in 1970 they made the racing categories of Formula 2 and touring car racing look a lot less interesting for, particularly in F2, their engines had been the only ones to effectively take on and beat the all-conquering Cosworth FVAs. The Ferrari F2 engine had also beaten the Cosworths of course, but by 1970 Ferrari were well out of the hunt and BMW engines in chassis were the ones to beat. Dieter Quester's unique relationship with the factory resulted in his successful appearances in a Formula 2 March 712 equipped with the 16-valve BMW 2-litre engine during 1971, whilst BMW fortune's were ably, if not very successfully carried, by Alpina and Schnitzer in touring car events. I say ably because Alpina and Schnitzer found themselves with the unenviable task of beating the Cologne RS Capris of nearly 3-litres, which were a little less powerful than the big BMW CS coupés but much more reliable and a good deal lighter.
Earlier this year Jochen Neerpasch announced that he and Cologne chassis expert Martin Braungart were leaving Ford to set up a new competition department in Munich for BMW, the Bavarian company having revitalised their management during the winter. At present Neerpasch and a team of experts drawn from such sources as Porsche are supervising the construction and plans for a factory touring car effort in 1973, backed up by an engine development programme that's likely to yield a further improved 16-valve 2002 engine for use in the Tii racing saloon and also for sale to participants in Formula 2 and Series 2 Sports car racing. The engine development is also likely to include a 24-valve (i.e. four valves per cylinder, again) version of the six cylinder sohc unit that powers the 3.0 CS coupés. The CS itself will be produced in limited quantity with special equipment and options to make it lighter, wider in track and generally more competitive for touring car racing, rather on the lines that Ford (who were then managed by Neerpasch in Germany) manufactured the Capri RS with a host of options that were homologated to make the car suitable for touring car competitions. There are those in Germany who feel that under Neerpasch's guidance BMW will make an F1 engine, for the man is strongly patriotic and has done everything in his power to help the careers of Rolf Stommelen. Jochen Mass and Hans Joachim Stuck Jnr.
Whilst all this activity was underway in Germany, the Concessionaires in Britain have not been idle. Prior to the start of the season they, through the Cooper Car Company which they own (though it doesn't function in a competition sense yet .. . more of that later) had known of the factory plan for Broadspeed at Southam to prepare a special lightweight version of the CS in an attempt to beat the Capris in Europe during 1972. Unfortunately the Bavarian factory was not geared up to either lying or making enough of these aluminium panelled CSs to allow FIA recognition of the lightweight model. The result was that Broadspeed/Cooper Car Co. were stuck with an illegal car and therefore no budget to run the Broadspeed prototype. However, after a lot of background politics, it did appear at a snowy Salzburgring for the second round of the European Touring Car Championship in April, driven by John Fitzpatrick and resplendent in British Racing Green with a white stripe. The Broadspeed-Cooper CS had fuel pressure and political problems in practice (really it was too wide to race, but Ford representatives were slightly mollified by the installation of steel panels so that the car confirmed with the regulations in all respects save width) but in the race it proved to be the fastest BMW. Tantalisingly, the beautiful silver Schnitzer CS of Dieter Quester was disqualified whilst catching up lost ground after a push start, so we never saw if Fitzpatrick plus British BMW (though it had a Munich modified engine) could actually beat the Schnitzer top combination, who were really racing on home ground as those silver coupés are prepared at Freilassing, just outside Salzburg.
Since then the Broadspeed/Cooper CS has not raced for reasons of finance, that may be resolved when you read this account of how we drove the car, which remained in Salzburg trim.
The GB BMW concessionaires are also behind the exceptionally successful Group 1 assault mounted by various dealers in the marque. At the time of writing they have enjoyed most success with the MLG 2002 Tii for Roger Bell, backed by a similar Mathwall engineering prepared Tii for John Bloomfield. The latter car and a 3.0 CS which John Markey piloted over the Bank Holiday with the same spirit as he applies to driving a Lotus 30, looking after customer complaints, and running BMW GBs competition activities, are entered by Cronk Motors of Chipstead, but all three appear in a smart blue and white livery that Mathwall apply after considerable time has been spent transforming the BMWs into Group 1 racers.
At Silverstone I was allowed to drive both the Group 2 CS and a rare lightweight coupé (the orange car in the colour section), whilst I had earlier been able to fit in some laps of Brands Hatch club track in Bell's 2002. The smallest BMW T tried was the original car modified for Group 1, a category of saloon car racing that only re-appeared officially in Great Britain this year, and which has proved extremely successful, as intimated in last month's "Matters of Moment". From their premises at Silvermere Estate, Byfleet Road, Cobham, Surrey, Mathwall partners Stuart Mathieson and Peter Wallace set about the car with vigour.
Mathieson specialises on engine development, and there was plenty of scope for improvement in the 2002 unit as the homologation tolerances were extremely favourable for maximum power. In fact, after balancing and final assembly, the first engine was found to give 143 b.h.p. at 5,800 r.p.m., up at least 13 b.h.p. over the production DIN rating. Because of the space needed for a slant engine's exhaust system on a test bed, it was found that the engine actually performed even better in open exhaust racing form, which partially explains why, even when the uprated 3-litre Capris came into Group 1 after four or five races had already been run, they did not immediately seem that much faster than the BMW 2002: both cars weigh almost the same at something over 2,300 lb.
The suspension and braking were also modified, though the brakes are not as good as on the Alfa Romeo GTVs as yet. However, the suspension system (Macpherson strut front, i.r.s via trailing arms) is more than a match for anything, new, shorter and stiffer rate coil springs allowing the 2002 to run rings round the opposition, especially on bumpy tracks. The limited-slip ZF differential and live-speed gearbox don't do the car's competitiveness any harm either. Theoretically one would suppose that the answer to the 2002 would be the 2000 GTV Alfa Romeo, but the Wallace suspension, plus Mathiesori's engine, has just made the Mathwall 2002 untouchable except by bigger capacity cars—recently the Ford Capri 3-litre and Chevrolet's monstrous Camaro.
My spell in the car merely whetted an appetite for a go in the bigger coupés, for the 2002's tail-out handling and steady high speed cornering flatters the driver enormously. In fact it's not until one tries to get down to real business in the car that you see what hard work slinging a basically standard 2002 about can be, especially as the rear wheels tend to kick up when trying to take some of the terror out of Paddock Bend. The car certainly seemed fast though, a harsh open exhaust note adding to the excitement of an indicated 112 m.p.h. before Paddock bend. The engine still responded easily whilst trickling up to join the circuit, its Kugelfischer injection responding promptly when the starter key was turned initially. Power drops off very sharply above 6,000 r.p.m., and despite balancing there's no happiness involved in revving the engine all the way round to the limit of 6,500 r.p.m.
The labour bill for converting that 2002 topped the £1,000 mark comfortably, but that figure would not even make the petrol pump attendant at Broadspeed look interested, for up in Southam they specialise in Group 2 touring cars with a vengeance, and Group 2 costs are calculated on the same scale of noughts as mere mortals use for telephone numbers. Of course Broadspeed convert cars for everything from road use up to, and beyond, Group 2 specification into which this first venture on to BMW territory most definitely falls, for the CS was built as the finest rolling chassis possible, with no contract for engine development. At first Ralph Broad was not at all keen on Group 1 regulations, but lately he and the company have become involved, preparing a Capri for David Matthews to use and helping one of their own employees, the talented former Formula Ford driver Andrew Rouse. He conducts a Mexico turned out in Broadspeed's old regal purple-silver colours, the latter machine now placed at the head of the brutally close-fought Mexico Challenge at the time of writing.
The engine installed in the coupé for Salzburgring was still feeling as sharp as the 332 b.h.p. at 7,500 r.p.m. claimed for it before it did the 2-hour Australian event. Six shining intake trumpets for the Kugel-fischer mechanical fuel injection dominate the engine bay, the only apparent drawback to the system being in the throttle operation, which has to work against the pressurised fuel, and is thus tricky to force into opening smoothly if you have small feet. The alloy-headed six-cylinder engine utilises a compression ratio of only 11 to 1, its iron block almost hidden from the underneath by the extensively (and expensively) developed tubular steel exhaust manifolding. This complex system had to fit in under the slant of the block and progress from six outlets into three branches, one, and then finally out to three stubby pipes exiting under the passenger door on the LHD machine. Bosch supplied all the electronic engine equipment, though Broadspeed had to make up a special wiring loom to cover all the extra needs of racing. Cooling of the engine's water is in the hands of a bigger Serck radiator, whilst the oil for the engine, five speed ZF gearbox and ZF limited-slip differential rear end is all cooled as well—the transmission components having cunning little pumps concealed within their standard casings! In fact the presence of so many pumps clearly shows how different European Group 2 racing is from British events, for with events like the Spa 24 Hours in the schedule one tends to design a car that can both sprint and last. A 3-gallon dry sump system (Broad's a Castrol man, like so many others in Group 2) was beautifully blended into the car, using an aluminium reservoir and piping concealed underneath the interior carpeting—the original wood trim has to be preserved as well, so the cockpit of this racing car is pretty civilised by any standard! The fuel system also uses aluminium tanks, two of them joined together under that enormous quick filler cap on the boot, giving the mandatory maximum of 26 1/2 gallons. Fuel consumption is a point of interest since it was rumoured that, following the temporary shelving of the project, Mr. Broad might take to the road in his pride and joy! We understand that normal racing consumption is extremely creditable for a heavy 3-litre racer at 8-8 1/2 m.p.g.
Power is transmitted via a Borg and Beck triple-plate clutch, as used in F5000, to the all synchromesh ZF gearbox—on which first is placed below reverse on the side closest to the driver, a collar having to be raised to reach either. The gear-change pattern is spring-loaded so that first to second is just one straight movement of the arm, all other changes upward being a matter of deliberately pushing away from the driver. Final drive ratios can be varied between 2.9 up to 6 to 1 to suit a circuit; we had the 3.9-to-1 choice, but a 4.3-to-1 would be fitted normally for Silverstone Club layout.
As with production coupés, 15 in. diameter wheels are used. Alpina tried 13-in. wheels last season, but now all the tuners have opted for 15 in. diameters (as have the Cologne Capris for 1972) in order to fit 10.9 in. diameter Lockheed ventilated disc brakes all round. Originally the idea behind 13 in. diameter was to get CS's centre of gravity down, but with the advent of ultra low profile racing covers from Dunlop, the teams can now run the bigger wheels with no increase in overall height!
Suitable damping for the rigours of circuits as diverse as Nurburgring and smooth Ricard was selected after 15 possible permutations of gasfilled Bilstein had been used in development. Roll stiffness that was not found by new coil springs can be varied with a selection of tubular roll bars: weight trimming is a necessity, not a luxury on this car! As ever, Broad objects to using a rear bar on principle "all it does is lift up wheels" he says. The anti-roll bar can be further trimmed—just as on an F1 car—by adjusting the tension upon it. "In fact", continued Mr. Broad with a shrug, "it really is true to say that a properly developed touring car must have all the features in suspension adjustment that a Formula car has—but things are more difficult with a body on top!"
Perhaps the secret of the car, confirmed on the afternoon of our test by Niki Lauda's driving impressions of the Broadspeed machine (who, apart from his Formula Two and One drives is quite a dab hand behind the wheel of Alpina's 3-litre coupe on occasions) is the variable rate springing, allowing a total of 7 in. suspension movement. In practice this means that the car avoids the pitfalls of coil binding that the popular "shorten and stiffen till it's as hard as rock" philosophy can encounter. Wheel toe-in, camber, castor, under or oversteer, and even the rate of rear wheel camber change, can all be changed at the track. As Broad says "it's inevitable that a saloon car will have body roll but the trick is to make sure that the wheels stay as flat on the ground as possible whilst the body is tipping".
The braking set-up is also interesting in that servo-assistance is provided to the front wheels only, adopted because the braking action with four-pot calipers was too heavy for long-distance events. A balance bar, with adjustment that is critical to one quarter of a turn from within the car, also ensures that the car is adjusted to stop as well as it can corner on those shimmering BDS magnesium wheels. At the front 11-in. rims were utilised for our test, complemented by 13-in. rims at the rear: our session was conducted on the recently available Dunlop 376 compound intermediate rubberwear, but Lauda and Markey also tried the car on slicks, which are widely used on racing saloons today.
The production facia panel was barely altered for the racing car, but there were such small dials as were needed to record oil pressure (80 lb. plus) and temperature (barely above 40ºC. on a windy day), water temperature (not up to the normal 70ºC.) and fuel pressure of 45 p.s.i. All the extra switchgear is mounted on a central console. A mechanically driven tachometer is mounted in place of one of the production dials, its tell-tale pointing to exactly the limit of 8,200 r.p.m.; we were asked to keep down to 7,500 r.p.m.
With the customary bucket seat and full harness by Britax the driver surveys a mass of green panelling and suave interior, feeling rather more relaxed than is customary. The exhaust tone from triple stub pipes is almost subdued inside the car, but outside the engine sounds as though it is bursting with energy like that of a Matra V12, though the pitch is of a far mellower nature which rings out across Silverstone's wastes (an ideal test track!) quite hauntingly.
The throttle is tricky for our reporter as it needs a hefty stab to open, more akin to the effort that one would feed into an initial braking movement. Once open the power delivery is extremely smooth, and over a wide band from 4,000 r.p.m. onwards in third gear. To really get the sort of performance that Lauda extracted from the CS, the engine and brakes have to be caned unmercifully, for this is a heavy car that has to be driven to its considerable handling limits to make up the time that an extra 30 b.h.p. would supply—a quantity of extra urge that would suit the car well, according to the experts. Next year the signs are that both BMW and Ford will have touring cars with engines of 3-litres plus, new cylinder heads and over 400 b.h.p. apiece!
Personally speaking, the kick from just over 300 brake horses is exhilarating enough, but even for me it was easy to see that the car's slow, sliding oversteer and superb brakes would lend themselves to extra power. The brakes were so good that I found they could be applied on the same spot as a road-going car travelling at half the speed. Turning into Copse this meant that the car could be swept in using third gear and balanced through the corner just on power. The sticky throttle worried me sufficiently at Becketts hairpin and Woodcote to stop heel-and-toeing and merely concentrate on changing through that quickly operated gearbox with delightful accompanying roars from the engine. I only used fifth gear down the main straight, because of the gearing, but I would guess that the big BMW was breaking 130 m.p.h. comfortably all the same: blast it, the lightweight road car which I tried later was managing 112 m.p.h.!
In short, the car certainly proved that it was more than a match for the power presently supplied. Future plans are undecided at present, but BMW's John Markey (who also drove the car just as well as Lauda round Silverstone) is known to be extremely keen for the company to be represented in Group 2, apart from the great Group 1 successes that they have already enjoyed.
Whilst we were fiddling our way into one of the first alloy-panel (doors, boot lid and bonnet) coupés, we were surprised, and very pleased to learn, that the Cooper Car Company name is to be revived, using the old premises at West Byfleet and will be constructing competition cars. "The Cooper name is still an excellent one for marketing performance parts", says Markey, "and it is important to realise that the old company did not go bankrupt—the parent company wound it up. Our present marketing manager for parts at the concessionaires, Michael Heath-Wise, will be in charge of these performance parts—and I will look after the competition side."
The orange CS wore attractive spun-aluminium spoked wheels of 7-in. rim section, carrying 195 70 VR 14 Michelin radial ply tyres. At first it felt as though it had power steering after the even bigger-booted Group 2 version, but after a couple of laps we found strong respect for it as a truly functional machine, rather in a smooth original Lotus Cortina mould. Gear speeds worked out at about 40 m.p.h. in first, 60 m.p.h. in 2nd, 100 m.p.h. in 3rd and 112 m.p.h. along the Club straight into Woodcote, using fourth, which was also top in this case. Absolute maximum speed is just over 130 m.p.h.
Wrapped up inside a spaceman helmet with a roll-over bar stuck over my head, it felt rather incongruous not to be able to hear anything of the car's quiet progress at all, save the inevitable tyre squeal. The car's lap times (on road tyres and completely standard) would have put it just ahead of the Mopar Avenger driven by Bernard Unett in a Group 1 event at the same circuit three days later and very little (0.2 sec.) behind one of the slower Group 1 Camaros! The car was merely lent as an appetiser, for BMW (GB) intend to market a highly luxurious version, broadly based on the sporting look of the car you see portrayed in the colour section, but with additional luxury features, fuel injection (twin downdraught Zeniths were fitted to that road car) and steel doors. Currently the concessionaires plan to import 500 such exciting CS models, beginning later this year. Officially it will be called a CSLi and will sell for within 5-6 per cent of the present CSi's retail price.
Certainly, both the staffmen who went to Silverstone enjoyed seeing a respected marque built up with the competitive spirit. Let us hope the enthusiasm stays, and that we will continue to see BMWs providing a different shape to watch and, if you are wealthy enough, something different to drive. — J. W.