Have you ever wondered why every model range from BMW has an M version except for the 1-Series?
The BMW M1 from 1978 is the answer.
It was the first true sports car from BMW – and one of the most beautiful cars the brand has ever produced.
The story of the M1
The M1 started its life as a procar for the BMW M1 Procar Championship.
From the very first day the M1 was unorthodox, as it was the first vehicle designed by BMW’s motorsport division.
It was designed and developed based on certain specifications for both the road and track, only 460 examples were ever built, and every single one was handmade.
It followed styling principles that were laid out by BMW concept vehicles of the time and was designed by world-renowned vehicle designer Giorgio Giugiaro – who was also responsible for cars such as the Ferrari 250 GT and the original Maserati Ghibli.
Giugiaro was able to combine both sportiness and aesthetics through the striking wedge shape of the car, which featured distinctive folding headlights, a flat kidney grille, and black slats over the rear window.
Moreover, he made sure the car stayed very low.
The M1 was only 1.14 metres tall – compared to the 1.42 metre height of the latest generation of the M3 – and at its lightest it had a dry weight of 1,300kg.
Giorgio also boasted that the M1 featured “Italian lines, Bavarian engine design” – which is arguably one of the best combinations one could make.
The M1’s 3.5-litre, inline-6 cylinder engine that was fitted to the road-legal version generated 204kW of power and 330Nm of torque, and allowed it to hit 0-100km/h in 6 seconds.
The top speed was then 265km/h.
The track version of this motor also came in several variants, and was able to push out 746kW at its absolute maximum.
Named M88 internally, the engine achieved great heights apart from being in the M1, and it was used as a basis for the M635i of the time as well as the very first BMW M5.
Due to this adored design and spirited engine, the M1 was the perfect track car and the championship that was specifically designed for it was a sight to behold.
The race featured multiple M1 cars and participants consisted of the five fastest F1 drivers of the time – along with up-and-coming talents in the industry.
The overall winner of the first series was none other than Niki Lauda.
After the conclusion of the procar series, various versions of the car went on to compete in Le Mans and national championships between 1979 and 1986.
In 2019, spectators at the Norisring in Germany were able to witness a M1 revival as 14 cars were pulled to the grid and raced around the track.
The M1 was also a favourite of modern day celebrities, including Andy Warhol and Paul Walker – whose original M1 is going up for auction in the first week of February 2021.
It is expected to fetch prices far above the “normal” rate of $445,000.
The BMW M1 is seen as one of the all-time greats, and will go down in history as just that.
BMW M1 – Photos