With so much talk around a potential new BMW M1, we thought it would be appropriate to bring back the ….old M1, the original supercar that caught everyone’s attention in the late 70s.
The BMW M1, along with other supercars such as a 2003 Ferrari Enzo, a Ferrari F50, the McLaren F1, the Mercedes-Benz Gullwing or the Ford Model T, took the center stage at the Franschhoek Motor Museum Concours & Time Trial, a celebration event of classic cars which changed the automotive world in one way or another.
The museum boasts over 200 cars in its collection, however, only 80 will be displayed at once.
Digging into BMW’s history, we learned that the M1 supercar was produced by BMW from 1978 to 1981.
In the late 1970s, Italian manufacturer Lamborghini entered into an agreement with BMW to build a production racing car in sufficient quantity for homologation. The result was sold to the public, from 1978 to 1981, as the BMW M1. It was the only mid-engined BMW to be mass produced. It employed a twin-cam M88/1 3.5 L 6-cylinder gasoline engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. A version of this motor was later used in the South African version of the BMW 735i, of which 209 examples were built between 1984 and 1986, as well as the E24 BMW M6/M635CSi and E28 BMW M5. The engine had six separate throttle butterflies, four valves per cylinder and produced 277 PS (204 kW; 273 hp) in the street version, giving a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph). Turbocharged racing versions were capable of producing around 850 hp (634 kW).
The M1 coupe was hand-built between 1978 and 1981 under the Motorsport division of BMW as a homologation special for sports car racing. The body was designed by Giugiaro, taking inspiration from the 1972 BMW Turbo show car. Originally, BMW commissioned Lamborghini to work out the details of the car’s chassis, assemble prototypes and manufacture the vehicles, but Lamborghini’s financial position meant that BMW reassumed control over the project in April 1978, after seven prototypes were built. Only 456 production M1s were built, making it one of BMW’s rarest models. The spirit of the M1 lived on in the first-generation M5, as both models shared the same (though slightly modified) engines.
The M1 had various successes in motorsports, including winning the Group B championship in 1984. In 2004, Sports Car International named the car number ten on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s.