If you know me even a little, you’d know that the BMW M1 is one of my absolute favorite cars. It’s a car I’m not shy about loving. At parties, I’ll tell people that the BMW M1 is not only one of my favorite cars but actually invented the everyday supercar segment but, mysteriously, they all seem to walk away from me after that… But I digress.
I know I’m not alone in loving the BMW M1; it’s one of the most revered and beloved Bavarian products of all time. Its gorgeous Giugiaro styling, its Paul Rosche-designed and motorsport-bred 3.5 liter inline-six, and its everyday supercar usability all make it one of the most iconic cars of its era. But did you know that there was actually a rally car version?
Few enthusiasts know that there actually ever was a BMW M1 rally car but, in fact, there were a few. Admittedly, only a handful of teams in the early ’80s rally raced M1s, with the most famous one being raced by the French Oreca rally racing team (which is the Motul-sponsored car in the video below). Most of the rally M1s were French, to be honest.
Most BMW M1 rally cars were converted M1 Procars, which were widened to accommodate a wider wheel track and were given accompanying fender flares. They also featured larger rear wings, to provide more downforce to the rear-wheel drive only rally car. Though, most of the French rally races were held on tarmac. The already incredible 3.5 liter I6 engine was also bumped from the standard 277 horsepower to a whopping 430 bhp.
Sadly, the BMW M1 never really worked as a rally car. It never won a single race, with any driver from any team, and it only managed one or two second-place podium finishes. Most of the time, the M1 was forced to retire races due to technical failures. The BMW M1 was too big, too heavy, and not reliable enough to be a successful rally car, which is kind of sad because the car seen in this video below was absolutely glorious. It looked fantastic and sounded even better. Have a watch and dream of what maybe could have been.