It’s easy to look back at the BMW M1 through rose-tinted specs. Not only is it an incredible looking car but its engineering was genius and its history fascinating. However, it wasn’t met with great sales when it hit the market and its motorsport history was checkered at best, though much of that was due to no fault of its own. So it’s interesting to actually look back and see what journalists felt about the M1 when it was new. In this retro-review from Car and Driver, we get to see what they thought about the M1 back in December of 1981.

Back in the early ’80s, the BMW M1 must have seemed like the most exotic car in the world, judging by this review. “When you drive around in a BMW M1, you’d better know everything there is to know about the car. At every stop you’ll be besieged by open-mouthed car freaks, drawn like moths to a flame by the legendary Bavarian ultracar.” said C&D back in the day.

What’s interesting about this review is how well it seemed to have handled back in the day. When enthusiasts drive the M1 today, journos wax lyrical about how special the car is and how surprisingly approachable it is. Compared to modern supercars, it feels sluggish and sloppy so it charms in different ways. However, back in its own day, the BMW M1 seemed like a razor-sharp hypercar.

“The M1 handles as well as any street car we’ve driven. Its responses are immediate, direct, and without distortion. So effortless is its control that one can quickly assume that it has virtually no cornering limits.” said C&D of its capabilities.

There was even more praise for its steering, too, with C&D stating “This carefully conceived control connects to the best steering we’ve ever encountered in a street car. It’s very direct, suitably light, unaffected by speed (in sharp contrast to 911 Porsche steering), and volubly communicative about the intimate relationship between the front tires and pavement. There is some kickback, but it’s a small price to pay for unadulterated steering information.”

It’s so easy to get lost in the history of the M1, all of its failure, its motorsport shortcomings and its fascinating tale of creation. However, we forget just how revolutionary it was for its time. The BMW M1 was a genuine hypercar even back then. In fact, C&D labels it as such back in 1981, which is the oldest documented use of that term I’ve ever heard. If you’re like us and are fascinated with the BMW M1, check this retro-review out.

[Source: Car and Driver]