It was also the first mid-engine BMW to go into production, the M1’s 24-valve twin-cam six also powered the late-’80s M5 sedan and M6 coupe.
The motivation to build the M1 came from racing and a set of regulations prompted by the new Group Five in 1976. BMW found its aging CSLs losing against Porsche’s incredible new 935, and to beat them, BMW needed a mid-engined chassis to fit its twin-cam 3.5-litre six-cylinder engine. To meet homologation ruling BMW needed to manufacture 400 cars. Not having the production capability to produce cars in such small volume at the Munich factory, BMW’s Motorsport division went to Lamborghini to be build partners.
Styling came courtesy of Italdesign, created by the famous automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. Road cars were equipped with BMW’s 277-horsepower M88 six-cylinder engine, which featured a twin-cam head with chain drive, four valves per cylinder, a forged alloy crank, Kugelfischer-Bosch Indirect fuel injection, and an electronic ignition by Marelli— this was pretty serious hardware for the mid-’70s.
Problems with Lamborghini’s precarious financial position dictated that BMW had to take back control of the project in April 1978. Production was spread between two Italian firms: Marchesi for the multi-tube chassis and Transformazione Italiana Resina for the fiberglass body. Final assembly moved to Baur, the German coach-builder that had a long history with BMW.
Officially introduced at the Paris Salon in October 1978, BMW quickly learned that the new M1 would not meet the requirements of the new Group Five regulations, which required 400 cars to be sold to the public prior to a racing version being allowed to run on the track. It was a race car without a series.
Eventually, BMW built 450 M1s, of which about 50 were pure racing machines while the others were beautifully equipped road cars.
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277 bhp, 3,453 cc M88 DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear dual A-arm independent suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 100.8 in.
- Chassis Number: 4301011
- Engine Number: M88-214
- One of 399 road-going examples
- Believed to have been used as the press vehicle for BMW
- Rare full-leather interior; fitted with correct alloy wheels with new tyres
- Air Conditioning
- Recaro Seats
Our M1, finished in a rare and beautiful Dark Metallic Blue, is listed on the M1 Register as a press vehicle used by BMW for promotions and displays. It is trimmed with a rare, full black leather interior (most other M1’s were supplied with cloth and leather combination) and was used by BMW until 1981. Subsequently it has been the property of a single collector for the past 25 years. The car is fitted with new tyres on correct factory wheels, along with the correct spare, tool kit, and copy of the owner’s manual.
Now eminently collectible, The M1 is a very usable classic super car with tremendous presence and engaging road holding.