BMW M1 Of A Kind
Photography by Rémi Dargegen
This is where it all began. A naïve enthusiast may argue that M3s or M5s are the BMW M-Performance bloodline’s progenitors, but luckily for you, you’re here reading this. The same innocent enthusiast may also prematurely proclaim that this Giugiaro-designed wedge is anything but a BMW, for that matter. “You’d have to be an idiot to paint a DeLorean!” they might brusquely declare. Thank the heavens they stuck not one, but two trademark roundels on the M1’s hindquarters. No, it’s not a DeLorean, this beauty right here is the very first BMW M-Performance production car.
Up front, the classic kidney-grilles are jammed at the very tip of that gorgeous wedge shaped, with another roundel slapped firmly atop the ever-so-slightly sloped hood for good measure. BMW purists worldwide, who often partake in a perpetual shaming of the brand for “losing its way”, may very well have a personal crisis when reading the spec sheet on the M1:
Straight-six engine, displacing three-point-five liters with four valves per cylinder, producing 277 horsepower, a five-speed manual gearbox, and a partridge in a pear tree (special order only).
Built as a homologation special to go racing from the start, BMW and Lamborghini partnered on the mid-engined project, with Lambo providing the chassis development know-how. After rolling out seven prototypes, Lamborghini fell on hard times as government funding dried up (a bailout?! HUZZAH!), at which point BMW took control of the M1 project and handed it over to its racing division to pick up the pieces.
What a magnificent car they built, right into a wall. Rule and popularity changes in the racing world quickly swung this purpose built production racer into obsolescence. It simply didn’t matter anymore. Lamborghini planned to build 400 cars (430 were fashioned in total) to meet Group 4 eligibility requirements, however due to delays caused by their debacle, racing evolved into Group 5 while BMW soldiered on with the M1. When it finally went racing, it lost. A lot. Proving to be a costly mistake for its creators, the Motorsports division’s budget was slashed, and at the time, the M1 was labeled a monumental failure.