///M. It’s a letter that invokes fear in its rivals. It is a mark that has made in house performance cars a must by every major automaker. ///M stands for Motorsport, and their technik parts often end up on sports packaged Bimmers, and then the name is stamped on a car that has met their intense re-creation process of a lucky few BMW’s.
Every Friday starting today March 7, 2008 will feature a new blog about 2008 commemorating 30 years for BMW Motorsport producing road going performance cars with their letter and a number, starting with the M1 in 1978. This series will last a few weeks, so sit back and enjoy the history of the greatest letter in the world.
1978. A year that left a mark on history in so many ways. Ted Bundy was finally caught, while John Wayne Gacy admits to his illegal wrongdoings to much surprise, Emilio Palma is the first person known in history to be born in the Antarctic and also the southernmost birth known, Pope John Paul II becomes Pope, along with the son of Sam being sentenced to 25 years in prison.
While all of these were some of the most important headlines of not just that year, they were also news that would change history in one way or another. 1978 was also the year that would further change the automotive industry forever with no one ever expecting it.
Since 1972 BMW Motorsport GmbH had been making performance modifications for racing and road going BMW’s and while having only eight employees at the time meant that everything was made by hand and engineered perfectly efficient. With its three pinstripe slanted lines in front of the M symbol in their signature colors of light blue, navy blue and red. Six years later BMW Motorsport or ///M as every enthusiast and person knows them finally built their first road going ///M car, the M1.
The M1 was designed by the famed automotive designer of the 20th century, Giorgetto Giugiaro and was originally commissioned to be made by Lamborghini, but, following some hard money times for them they folded on the project, leaving ///M to finish the job.
What they were able to accomplish was a road car that had a 3.5 liter mid-engine inline-6 layout that produced a modest 277hp and 243lb-ft of torque qualifying it for a sub 6 second 0-60. The car was supposed to run in the Group 5 racing series but missed the number of cars to be made for road use by the time the season had started, so BMW looked elsewhere for its exotic sports car.
They finally landed on the Procar series, which was raced by many of the current Formula 1 racing drivers of the day before the F1 races were to start. The M1 remains the only BMW to be made for road use with a mid-engine layout. The M1 was also a popular racer due to a few cars being hand painted by a number of famous artists including Andy Warhol to be raced in competition. With production ending in 1981 BMW had to find something new to compete.