1980 BMW M1 Coupe

This was an extraordinary result, greater than the next highest street M1 sale on record by nearly 50%

A proposed Group 5 “Silhouette Formula” for production-based cars triggered the M1 program in the mid-1970s, a mid-engined concept car designed in-house at BMW by Paul Bracq providing the basis. Ex-racing driver Jochen Neerpasch was responsible for initiating this ambitious project, whose aims included taking on rival Porsche in the World Sports Car Championship and, ultimately, victory at Le Mans.

M1 development was contracted first to Lamborghini and then to Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign, although almost all cars ended up being built by BMW in Germany.

Giugiaro’s compact coupe bodywork in fiberglass was wrapped around a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, while a twin-overhead-cam, 4-valve version of BMW’s 3.5-liter six, driving via a 5-speed ZF transaxle, provided the motive power. The M1’s wedge-shaped coachwork proved highly efficient aerodynamically, needing very little in the way of additional spoilers and wings in race configuration.

Lamborghini’s Gianpaolo Dallara was responsible for developing the suspension, which followed racing practice by using unequal-length wishbones at front and rear. Soberly trimmed in black and gray, the M1’s interior was exceptionally well equipped for a sports car, featuring Recaro seats, air conditioning, electric windows, power door mirrors, and heated rear screen.

First shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1978, the roadgoing version came with 277 hp and a top speed of 160 mph. Only ever intended as a limited-edition model, the M1 ceased production after just 456 examples had been built, a minimum of 400 being required for homologation. In the event, the abandonment of the Group 5 Silhouette Formula robbed the car of its raison d’être, though the M1-only Procar Series run at Grand Prix races in 1980 and ’81 provided BMW Motorsport with a valuable showcase by way of consolation.

This 1980 BMW M1 Coupe was sold new in England to its first owner, who kept it for 20 years, and was registered by the current (second) owner in Monaco on April 26, 2000. Serviced in Cannes (no invoice), the car boasts a beautiful black leather interior and will be delivered with its Monaco papers and owner’s handbook. An important landmark in BMW’s history, and in particular of its involvement with motorsport in the post-war era, the M1 is already highly collectible and is surely destined to become increasingly sought after by discerning aficionados of the marque.

Rob Sass

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Rob was pre-ordained to accumulate strange collector cars after early exposure to his dad’s 1959 Hillman Minx. Sass served as Assistant Attorney General for the state of Missouri and then as a partner in a St. Louis law firm before deciding his billable hours requirement terminally interfered with his old car affliction. His stable of affordable classics has included a TVR 280i, a Triumph TR 250, an early Porsche 911S, and a Daimler SP250. He currently owns a 1965 E-type coupe and a 1981 Porsche 911SC.

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