With a carbon Group 4 wide-body, sequential race gearbox and a 1000hp boosted S38, this incredible turbocharged BMW E9 CSL recreation is a project on a scale that’s hard to comprehend.
Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Krisztian Bolgar, FTF Pictures/Tamas Farkas, Viktor Benyi
Considering how long PBMW has been around, how many modified BMWs we’ve featured and how many more we’ve seen out in the wild, it takes something truly special to blow our minds, and the E9 you’re looking at is one such car. We can appreciate every build, and we genuinely get excited about all the cars we feature, but occasionally we come across something that’s just on a completely different level, one that mere mortals can never hope to touch, a build that’s almost beyond comprehension in terms of scale and ambition and something that occupies that fantasy, lottery-winning project spot in our minds, which is exactly what this car is.
Finding a BMW E9 is hard enough: they’re elusive, iconic, not cheap to buy and certainly not a casual purchase nor one that’s easy to look after and care for – if you buy a classic icon like this you’ve got to be committed to it. To take an E9, then, and to turn it into a completely custom CSL race car replica is something truly astonishing and the effort, cost and passion that have been poured into this car are something else.
The story of this build is as unique as the car itself and to learn about its creation we must travel to Hungary, to the city of Miskolc, where you will find the headquarters of both drinks manufacturer Hell Energy and Gabura Motorsport. Both Hell Energy and Gabura Motorsport have a long history with cars; Hell’s founders and owners have always been car and motorsport enthusiasts and the company became one of the official sponsors of the AT&T Williams F1 team for the 2009/2010 season. Gabura Motorsport has been working together with Hell for 10 years, and their co-operation has resulted in several stunning show cars. With a passion for cars and being in the fortunate position to be able to indulge that passion, the owners of both companies have never been ones to settle for conventional machinery and have always chosen something unique and different, and this turbocharged BMW E9 is most definitely that.
Krisztián Gabura, founder and owner of Gabura Motorsport, had the idea for this turbocharged BMW E9 build after he ‘barn-found’ an E9 shell in an abandoned steel factory. The car itself had been used as a personal race car back in its heyday and had often been driven at the Nürburgring. He thought it would be an interesting project to salvage the body and re-build it from scratch, creating something really special in the process, so he shared the idea with the Hell guys who immediately gave him the green light for the project, and the build got under way.
Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re attempting to turn a BMW E9 into a Group 4 race recreation and it was an extremely challenging project, as Krisztián explains. “The build required a different way of thinking: full restoration of a classic car to the factory dimensions and to build a custom race car, while (obviously) not disturbing the original shape of the car. Therefore it is difficult to determine what the toughest part of the build was since the whole project and all the details required special attention. In addition to all this, the requirement was to recreate that museum show car quality where every mm counts.”
The first main problem was that there was no accurate information about the CSL race car available anywhere, so Krisztián drove all the way to the BMW Museum in Munich and, with the permission of the museum management, used a professional 3D scanner tool to take measurements from and digitalise the BMW E9 race car they had on display. With all this data he proceeded to build a 3D model of the E9 on his computer and with that, he could start producing 100% accurate body panels. However, where the original race cars used aluminium body panels, Krisztián chose to produce his panels from carbon fibre, which makes this car all the more awesome. Before any work could begin, however, the entire shell had to undergo an extensive sanding, restoration and reinforcement process to ensure that it was perfect and would also be able to cope with the power that Krisztián was planning to put through it.
With the shell prepped, assembly of the car could begin and taking a look inside you’ll see that the interior is exactly what you would expect from a race car, with nothing but the best modern motorsport equipment and a healthy helping of custom touches to make it that much more special. The first thing you’ll notice is the full custom Chromoly roll-cage and then you’ll no doubt notice the custom carbon door panels that have been designed to fit around it when the doors are closed, and there are even custom carbon housings in the roll cage for the fluid reservoirs, and that level of attention to detail is simply breathtaking. Carbon features extensively throughout the cabin and it’s everywhere you look: there’s a carbon dash which has been flocked, a carbon centre console, a carbon battery and compressor housing with ventilation, and a custom carbon steering wheel that looks like it’s come straight out of an F1 car. We’re not finished with the carbon yet – the Recaro seats are made from carbon as is the fire extinguisher, and you’ll notice that even the driver’s footplate is made from carbon. This BMW E9 has been equipped with an AP Racing pedal kit, there’s a MoTeC C127 digital display and a Lifeline fire suppression system has been fitted. This is a seriously hardcore race car interior and there have been absolutely no compromises made or corners cut and the end result is simply awesome.
When it came to the chassis, the same no-compromise approach was taken and a huge amount of work has gone into the setup on this car. All the suspension has been custom-engineered for the track and it uses custom-manufactured parts throughout to achieve the best possible setup, with only the wheel bearings being off-the-shelf items, and that’s incredible. The dampers are custom items from Hadik Suspension, and then there are the motorsport anti-roll bars, custom hubs, alloy and Chromoly control arms, a CNC’d Chromoly front subframe, E92 M3 rack and pinion steering with a TRW Motorsport electric power steering pump, and CNC’d Chromoly bearing housings at the rear along with adjustable camber and toe. The brakes, meanwhile, are suitably massive, with AP Racing GT3 calipers at either end, six-pots up front and four-pots at the rear, with 385mm front and 355mm rear racing discs and Endless brake pads all-round, and this heavy-duty setup ensures that the lightweight E9 stops hard and fast lap after lap. Naturally, a build on this scale requires a suitably spectacular set of wheels – Krisztián has opted for a set of custom HREs and the Vintage Series 501 three-piece cross-spokes are the perfect choice. They’ve got that classic motorsport look that works so well here, especially in their centrelock configuration, and the combo of polished stepped lips and silver centres is timeless. The sizes, however, are far more modern and much larger than you’d expect to see on a car like this, with the E9’s vast arches more than happy to swallow 10x19s up front and 12x19s at the rear, and the wheels are wrapped in seriously wide Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber measuring 265 at the front and 325 at the rear, giving the car exceptional grip and traction out on track.
If you thought all that was impressive you really haven’t seen anything yet because the centrepiece of the entire build is without the engine and it is insane. A car like this needs a seriously impressive powerplant and the goal here was 1000hp, but the engine couldn’t be too modern so as not to look out of place in a car like this, so an S38B36 was selected due it being that little bit older as well as bulletproof and then it was completely transformed. Displacement has been increased to 3620cc up from 3535cc and it has been equipped with an Arrow forged crank, rods and pistons, ARP studs, there’s a custom-ported head with Supertech Inconel valves, Supertech valve springs and titanium spring plates, a Cometic head gasket, there are Schrick hydraulic lifters with a DLC coating, a Cat Cams 282°cam, but of course what really matters is the turbo and it’s a beast. It’s a BorgWarner EFR 9180, the largest turbo in BW’s EFR range and can be found on numerous turbocharged racing cars, making it the perfect choice for this build. It sits on a custom exhaust manifold that runs to a custom side-exit exhaust, and uses a Tial MV-S water-cooled wastegate, there’s a huge custom front-mount intercooler built by Nagrad and Gabura Motorsport with bolt-on carbon elbows, and normally you’d see a carbon intake manifold with a built-in Tial blow-off valve under the bonnet but it cracked due to the boost pressure and so a new one was designed, built and fitted after the shoot. You’ve also got alloy pulleys, a custom oil pump and custom CNC’d oil pan, a custom radiator and oil cooler by Nagrad, Bosch Motorsport coil packs and twin fuel pumps, DeatschWerks 1200cc injectors, a high-capacity fuel rail, a Fuelab FPR, in the boot you’ll find the ATL 80-litre fuel cell with integrated swirl pot, while a Life Racing F90F ECU manages everything. That’s an incredible array of engine modifications and they mean that this S38 is capable of putting out over 1000hp and 738lb ft of torque, though for race use it’s dialled-back to a mere 818hp and 701lb ft… Either way, with this E9 tipping the scales at just 1320kg, that means a power-to-weight ratio of 758hp/tonne at full power, far beyond that of just about any modern hypercar you can think of, and that means terrifying mind-blowing performance. With that level of performance, the transmission needs to be something pretty serious to be able to cope and it is – the car runs a Gabura five-speed sequential gearbox with a custom forged flywheel and a three-plate carbon clutch, a Life Racing paddle shift system, and a custom propshaft sends power to a Type 210 diff with a custom LSD and custom driveshafts, all of which ensures that all that turbocharged fury gets to the tarmac.
This E9 is truly an incredible build on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and 14 months were spent putting the car together, which actually seems like a remarkably short amount of time considering how much work has gone into it. Even though we’ve gone into so much detail about this build there’s so much more that has gone into it that it’s simply impossible to cover it all. For example, all the original chrome trims and emblems had to be sourced, and in perfect condition, which is almost impossible when you’re dealing with a car of this age, and the livery that covers that majestic carbon fibre wide-body is actually a freehand airbrushed design that’s covered by nine layers of clear coat. This truly is a money-no-object dream build and we are really happy that there are people like Krisztián and companies like Hell and Gabura out there that have the vision and the means to make a car like this so that the rest of us can enjoy it. This is pure indulgence for anyone who’s a fan of modified performance machinery, the sort of car we’d build if we ever won the lottery and it’s the builds of this incredible magnitude that inspire people, which is why they’re so important and why we’re so happy they exist.
Tech Spec: Turbocharged BMW E9
Straight-six S38B36, capacity increased to 3620cc, Arrow forged crank, rods, pistons, custom ported head with Supertech Inconel valves, Supertech valve springs, titanium spring plates, Cat Cams Performance 282° camshaft, Schrick hydraulic lifters with DLC coating, ARP studs, custom Cometic head gasket, Bosch Motorsport coil packs, custom CNC’d alloy oil pan, custom oil pump, custom carbon intake with built-in Tial blow-off valve, Tial MV-S water-cooled wastegate, BorgWarner EFR 9180 T4 twin-scroll turbo, custom exhaust and turbo manifold, alloy pulleys, BSS alternator, BMW M3 throttle actuator, EGT sensors, EMAP sensors, custom exhaust system with uniball linkage and side-exit, custom Nagrad 18.5-litre racing radiator and custom 8.8-litre oil cooler, custom Nagrad/Gabura Motorsport intercooler with bolt-on carbon elbows, Spal fan, ATEC fluid system, professional motorsport wiring harness by BorzaTech, 38-piece motorsport sensors, twin Bosch Motorsport fuel pumps, Stäubli valves, ATEC PTFE hose system, high-capacity fuel rail, DeatschWerks 1200cc injectors, Fuelab fuel pressure regulator, Life Racing F90F ECU and
Power and Torque:
1000hp+ and 738lb ft+
Gabura five-speed sequential gearbox, three-plate carbon clutch, custom forged flywheel, AP Racing slave cylinder, Life Racing paddle shift system, additional gearbox cooling, custom propshaft, differential oil cooling setup, custom driveshafts, BMW Type 210 differential with custom LSD
10×19” (front) and 12×19” (rear) HRE Vintage Series 501 three-piece centrelock wheels with 265/35 (front) and 325/30 Pirelli Trofeo R tyres, Hadik Suspension custom shocks with alloy housing, motorsport anti-roll bars, custom front spindles, aluminium/Chromoly front control arms, CNC’d Chromoly front subframe, E92 M3 rack and pinion steering and uniball joint, TRW Motorsport electric power steering pump, CNC Chromoly rear bearing housings, Chromoly rear control arms, adjustable camber/toe, AP Racing brake master cylinder and bias adjuster, ATEC hard line tube system, AP Racing GT3 six-piston calipers and 385mm racing discs (front), GT3 four-piston calipers and 355mm racing discs (rear), Endless brake pads
Group 4 carbon wide-body, paint by ‘Borsos Fecó’, nine layers of clear coat, polycarbonate windows, unibody galvanised and KTL painted
Custom Chromoly roll-cage with custom built-in housing for fluid reservoirs, AP Racing air jack system, custom carbon door panels, flocked carbon dash, carbon centre console, carbon battery and compressor housing with ventilation system, custom carbon steering wheel, AP Racing pedal kit, Recaro seats with custom carbon shells, Schroth Enduro harnesses, Firesense carbon handheld fire extinguisher, Lifeline aluminium fire suppression system, motorsport air ventilation/defog system, MoTeC C127 digital dash and eight-button keypad, Odyssey PC950 Extreme Racing battery, ATL 80-litre fuel cell with integrated swirl pot