BMW’s First M Car Is Also One Of The Rarest, To Find One In This Condition Is Rarer Still
BMW has been in the business of building sports cars for many decades but when it comes to mid-engined ones, in its entire 103-year history it has built only two. The first, the M1, arrived in 1979 and also bore the distinction of being the first BMW to wear the M badge. It had real motorsport roots too as the M1 was designed from the outset to compete in Group 4 and Group 5 racing. The rules stipulated that 400 cars needed to be produced to meet homologation requirements and, despite numerous production issues and delays, BMW eventually produced 399 road and 56 race cars. As such it is one of the rarest BMWs ever built and, thanks to its Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed bodywork, also rather unique looking.
The long gestation period and subsequent requirement changes to Group 5 meant that the M1 was unable to compete in the race series it was designed for and BMW ended up creating a one-make support series for Formula 1 named Procar. While the series lasted only two years the M1 eventually became one of the most desirable and collectible BMWs ever built. The 277hp 3.5-liter inline-six engine would also go on to power the first M5 and it gave the light M1 superb performance for its day. The handful of cars built for the Procar series produced up to 470hp. Today, low-mileage road cars in Concours condition with traceable histories can sell for over $600,000 and the example currently on offer at US classic car specialists Canepa definitely falls into this top category.
Imported new to the States in 1980, it has been in the possession of a single family ever since. The car was handed down to the original owner’s two sons when he passed away in the 1990s and, aside from a spell in storage until 2010, it has been regularly if sparingly used, with the odometer now showing 22,760 miles. Aside from having undergone a comprehensive and detailed color change to white it is an all original car and has recently been through a very thorough mechanical restoration at Canepa to the value of over $125,000. It is now presented as a Concours preservation-quality car, although hopefully, its new owner will not be too shy to add to that mileage in the years to come.
Images courtesy of Canepa