@ellocars Deep Dive#5
The Story of the BMW M1
Suggested By: @lucian (Kind of skipped a couple but to be honest this car is just too cool to wait)
When most people think of BMW Motorsport,”M”, cars they think of the fast, loud, and the unapologetically raw sound of a straight six. They think of a rear wheel drive layout that feels at home just as much going 160 on a straight as it does going sideways with tires roasting around a turn. Drivers of M cars proudly display the badge as a credential for their driving passion. It may however, come as a surprise that the first ever M car was almost the last ever M car. Right from the beginning the M1 was a failure with a partner that went bankrupt, and a time crunch that stunted engine development which lead to it’s initial failure as a race car.
BMW was quickly becoming a big name in the automotive industry especially after the companies 1960s and 70s success with model called the 2002. It was time to show the automotive world what performance really meant to BMW.
BMW wanted to make a race car for FIA groups 4 and 5 that could also be homologated and turned into a potent road going car. The first concept that the M1 was loosely based on was brought out in 1972.
Although the M1 does carry BMW badges, it would take many companies to bring it to fruition. The first up was the legendary super car builder Lamborghini. With multo talented Giorgetto Giugiaro penning up the design, the M1 already seemed to be a home run.
There was hope for a V10 but that idea wasn’t realistic considering the time and money BMW was ready to spend on this project. A turbo 4 or 6 cylinder were within reach but BMW was getting nervous as time ticked by. In the end BMW used the straight 6 that had already become popular in many other cars and increased it’s displacement to 3.5 liters. 277 horses were produced from the road legal version.
BMW was feverishly trying to get the car out to the races when they collided with the first roadblock. Lamborghini filed for bankruptcy right as it was starting production of the M1. Now the pressure was really on for the newly developed M division of BMW to come up with a solution.
4 different companies where chosen to help throw the project together. Marchesi for the beautifully crafted tube frame, TIR for the fiberglass to cover it, Italdesign to mate the two and Baur coach builder to add all the final BMW bits. All of this just to build the road going versions that were really only homologation cars.
Finally the cars were ready by 1979. However, race fans were no longer interested in Group 5 racing and group 4 had changed it’s rules to where BMW couldn’t compete. After approximately 430 were built, BMW pulled the plug and forced out the men and women who were in charge of it.
The end of this car was swift and brutal but it is now considered one of BMWs best road going cars. It’s known for it’s superior handling, surprisingly comfortable ride and its all-business-no-frills interior. Most importantly of course is set a standard for all the amazing M cars to come.
Bonus: Even Andy Warhol was inspired by the car and used one as a canvas with, no joke, buckets of paint and a wide paint brush.