Films: The M1 Is BMW's Solitary Supercar

The M1 Is BMW’s Solitary Supercar

“Fine, we’ll do it ourselves.”

If this isn’t stamped somewhere on the BMW M1, it surely should be. The car was originally conceived as a joint Lamborghini-BMW project that would produce a race car with enough street units to meet homologation rules for Group 4 racing. Trouble was, Lamborghini found itself in financial straits and the fellows up in Munich were thus left to finish the M1 on their own. What resulted was a Giugiaro-designed, mid-engined marvel that ended up being the fastest production car of its time.

Alas, by the time the M1 was ready to run, Group 4 rules had changed and BMW found itself with a car but without a race. And so, in 1979, the head of BMW Motorsport, Jochen Neerspach, conjured up a single-make championship that would use nothing but M1s. The BMW M1 ProCar Championship, which folded in 1980, may have been short-lived, but its flared-fendered M1s–driven by Formula One legends like Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Nelson Piquet–have become racing icons.

“Lamborghini won’t work with us? Fine, we’ll make the car ourselves.”

“Not eligible for your racing series? Fine, we’ll establish our own.”

The result of this doggedness: a car that now holds pride of place in the pantheon of BMW collectors.

No wonder, then, that the street version of the M1, with its M88/1 engine capable of a 160 MPH top speed, captured the imagination of a young Mr. Mike Ura

As a college student on a tight budget, Mike was tired of dumping time and money into repairs for his 1965 Ford Mustang. One day, then, he traipsed down to the local used car lot to have a look at a Datsun B210 he’d seen for sale. The Datsun was a fine little car, but on the same lot sat a red BMW 2002. Out of curiosity more than anything else, Mike took it for a test drive. That was all it took for him to catch the BMW bug. Once bitten, a hankering for the M1 was not far away.

Finally, in 2009, after years of searching, he found his car: a red 1980 M1 owned by a collector in England. When Mike picked it up at the Port of Houston, this M1 had a mere 12,500 miles on it. Today, it has around 22,000 miles on the odometer, with Mike regularly ticking that number upward on the roads around Dallas and at tracks like the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

“I baby it, in that I take care of it,” says Mike, “but I drive it as an M1 should be driven: spirited on the roads, and on the track I drive it hard.”

And in keeping with the “do-it-yourself” ethos surrounding the M1, Mike now runs the BMW M1 Registry, dedicated to tracking these cars and assisting in their preservation. Something tells us that Neerspach and his cohorts over at Bayerische Motoren Werke would approve of Mike’s attitude toward ownership.

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16 Comments on "The M1 Is BMW’s Solitary Supercar"

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alan miller
alan miller
2 years 5 months ago

Simply a fabulous car to drive. A friend had one many years ago and I had the chance to drive it a good bit. After that I was sold. It was a a car you could drive every day and never tire of it. Beautifully styled, well appointed, wonderful BMW straight six balance and superbly suited for motoring. A great car. The only two I have ever seen state side were Henna Red (orange).

Rene Borggreve
Rene Borggreve
2 years 6 months ago

What a car. It’s a pity that BMW never made a real successor of the M1. Of course there were plenty of M-models (the M5 E28 is my favourite) but I reckon there’s a market for new M1. BMW wake up!

Peter Biesheuvel
Peter Biesheuvel
2 years 6 months ago

Love the engine sounds on this video. Beautifully filmed.

Tim Goedhart
Tim Goedhart
2 years 6 months ago

Garage with all the BMW collectables as desirable as the car itself! Great video again!

Brynnski
Brynnski
2 years 6 months ago

I swear I saw one of these in central Oregon just yesterday morning. I had no idea how rare they are. It’s like seeing a sasquatch or something. Cheers

David Vassilev
David Vassilev
2 years 6 months ago

The M1 is a legend of a car. Especially to a BMW fanatic. I just wish BMW would finally create a modern day equivalent. The i8 will not be it, and Audi really beat them to it with the R8.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
2 years 6 months ago

I actually think that the i8 is kind of a modern day equivalent. Also, I have to say that I absolutely loved the modern day rendition, the M1 Hommage that surfaced… was it like 5-6 years ago? That being said, there might be chance of us seeing a modern M1. Personally, I think the following article is highly speculative and it doesn’t promise anything, but you could always cross your fingers.

[url=”http://www.caradvice.com.au/285426/bmw-m1-supercar-revival-not-a-question-of-know-how/”]http://www.caradvice.com.au/285426/bmw-m1-supercar-revival-not-a-question-of-know-how/[/url]

David Vassilev
David Vassilev
2 years 6 months ago

You know I would love to see Italian styling in the next M1, if It becomes a reality. For example, have Zagato do the styling and BMW do the rest. I think not only will that be a great homage to the original, but would probably give the M1 something BMW can’t (to me the i8 is ugly).

http://euwerks.com/page/BMW_ZagatoCoupe

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
2 years 6 months ago

You’ve got a point, it turned out quite well when Giugiaro did the design last time. Personally, I think Zagato have done some epic looking cars and some not so epic ones. That coupe is quite nice though.

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel
2 years 6 months ago

What a wonderful Thursday surprise. Always wait for Tuesday to see the latest Video and when I don’t see one I am a bit bummed. This was worth the wait. Another wonderful video about another wonderful car and another wonderful person. Thank you Petrolicious you guys are the best!

Daniel Cooley
Daniel Cooley
2 years 6 months ago

I saw one a couple weeks ago at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival. An absolutely stunning car.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
2 years 6 months ago

I have always been a big fan of many BMWs and the M1 was was always one of my personal faves. Whats not to love about it you have beautiful Italian design mixed with rock solid German drivetrain this thing should have sold like hotcakes. The best part about the M1 was that it was a supercar but without being temperamental like most supercars can be. There was a air of civility about it all.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
2 years 6 months ago

I’ve been waiting for you to do a video on the M1 and I sure ain’t disappointed.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams
2 years 6 months ago

Why is that whenever BMW tries to be extravagant with their cars like the M1 and the 507, it always ends up being forgotten? It’s a real pity.

They’re such gorgeous pieces of automotive history.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
2 years 6 months ago

I think both the M1 and 507 will be remembered as great cars but financial failures by BMW. Wonder how their last extravagant car the i8 will be remembered?

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
2 years 6 months ago

I agree with you regarding the M1 and 507. However, although I’m a classic car guy at heart, I’d buy the i8 in a heartbeat. I know it’s as far away from a classic as possible, but there’s just something about that car that makes me go wild.

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