1981 BMW M1

n the mid-1970s, a production-based formula (which would result in the dominant Porsche 935) was instituted by the FIA in Europe for Group 5 (Grand Touring) racing. BMW proposed to build a flagship car which would compete in this series and join the ranks of the World’s “supercars.” The M1 was the result.

Contracted out to Lamborghini first, and then Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Ital Design, the M1 featured a multi-tubular space-frame into which was inserted BMW’s magnificent four-valve per cylinder, 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine producing some 285 bhp. Four hundred cars needed to be produced to qualify the M1 for the Group 5 series and 456 were actually built, the majority in Germany. In Group 5 they played second fiddle to the Porsches but achieved a marketing triumph with the Procar series run in support of Grand Prix’s, with the F1 drivers racing against each other in 480 horsepower-plus winged versions of the M1.

When it emerged as a road car, the M1 was applauded by journalists in every country for its performance, handling and build quality. The car pictured here is the very last BMW M1 ever built and the only M1 with the attractive custom “M-Technic” colored seat fabric inserts. With a mere 5,750 miles from new, it is one of the few opportunities left to enjoy BMW’s legendary build quality with performance which, even today, puts this German supercar into a class of its own.

I often wonder why so few enthusiasts find these exotics interesting, beautiful and for a BMW rather compelling. Remember, BMW was specializing in building slab-sided, four-wheeled boxes at the same time that they produced the M1.