We’ve been talking a lot about the future of BMW’s M Division. Whether it be the new F90 M5, the first M car (non-SUV) to be all-wheel drive, or the upcoming M8, all of our BMW M talk has been looking forward. So it’s nice to go back to the beginning. And I mean the very beginning. BMW’s M Division’s first ever car for the road was this — the BMW M1. This mighty mid-engine supercar has an incredible story with an unfortunately sad ending. That doesn’t diminish the brilliance of the car, though. But because of its incredible past and extreme rarity, the M1 is worth mucho-bucks. So is this 1981 BMW M1 worth its hefty price tag? Let’s take a look.
This specific car was supposedly bought by a journalist when new and has had it ever since, crossing continents with it along the way. It’s finally settled in South Africa and is now for sale. Its price tag? $649,000. Now, that’s actually not that absurd for an M1. In fact, it’s cheap compared to some of the ones we’ve seen. But it’s still a Porsche 911 Turbo S-worth more than a brand-new Rolls Royce Dawn. So, it’s not exactly affordable.
It’s wearing a rare shade of blue and it looks great. I’ve never seen an M1 in blue but I really quite like it. Judging from just the photos, the exterior seems to be in very good condition. While its not in Concourse-condition, it’s damn good. But I actually like that it’s not perfect. It’s been driven a bit. Well, only about 8,000 miles worth in 36 years but still. It’s been driven. On the inside, this M1 looks great. The seats, the dash and even the steering wheel look pristine. While this $650k won’t buy you anything luxurious, the cabin of the M1 is just so functional and so cool. As if it was made for racing. Because it kinda was. While the entire car is almost entirely original, there are actually some aftermarket Blaupunkt speakers installed, but they’re period ’80s.
Powering the BMW M1 was a 3.5 liter naturally-aspirated inline-six engine and it’s one of the best engines BMW’s ever made. Designed by Paul Rosche, the M88 packed 24 valves, six throttle bodies and 273 hp. That masterpiece of an engine was mated to only a five-speed manual transmission and powered the rear wheels. From 0-60 mph, the M1 took 5.4 seconds which is even quick by today’s standards. But it wasn’t the power or the performance that made it great. It was the noise, the throttle response and the character of the car. The BMW M1 is the car that started the M Division and one of BMW’s best.