What hasn’t already been said about the BMW M1? The only model the Germans ever made that had the “supercar” title next to it is still dazzling, wherever it goes. Its story is well known but nobody expected the M1 to become the icon it is today, especially 40 years ago. This weekend, a 1981 model was sold at an auction for no less than $400,000.
At the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the guys from Bonhams brought together enthusiasts with classic cars and enthusiasts with money to buy said classic cars. The end result was an auction where some really expensive automobiles were sold, this particular BMW M1 being one of the most expensive ones put up for grabs. Having just 3,000 miles on the odometer, this thing was bound to get a hefty price tag.
Bringing together German engineering and Italian design, the M1 was crayoned by ItalDesign’s Giorgetto Giugiaro after Lamborghini dropped out of a deal that would’ve had them sign off on the car that was to replace the iconic 3.0 CSL. Luckily, the M1 project did not leave Lamborghini before Gian Paolo Dallara, chassis maestro behind the Miura and Countach, drew up the tube-frame layout and outlined the suspension setup.
The M1 was created in road-legal guise only to allow BMW to race in Group 4 events. As per the regulations, at least 400 production cars were to be built, in order to allow the Germans to race and that’s how the production figures of the M1 rose to only 453 in total. And while the exterior might be controversial to some, the technical details of the car were impressive. It was the first ever mid-engined BMW with its M88 unit being the basis for powerplants that went into various other models later down the line, including the E24 M6 and E28 M5.
Completed on January 30, 1981, the car sold this weekend left the factory painted orange (one of 98 road cars in that color) over the standard black-and-grey interior. It was shipped to the sole BMW importer in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, where, early in its life, it was expertly repainted in white. More than three decades after leaving the factory, this M1 presently has 3,049 miles on the odometer (the original European-spec gauge was replaced to meet Federal requirements) and the patina of a car fully enjoyed by its former owner.