This is a weird time for the used car market. Typically, cars are seen as bad investments, as they depreciate immediately and steadily after taking delivery. However, the opposite has been true over the past couple of years, for a number of reasons. Whatever the reasons, though, the used car market has spiked a used car values are going through the roof. It’s been especially true for special, collectible sports car, which are now worth more than ever. One such car is the BMW 1M, which is seeing record sales prices on the second-hand market.
BMW 1M owners are a special bunch, though. Only 983 1Ms ever made it to America, making them an exclusive group of owners. And because the 1M is such a special, unique car in BMW M’s history, its owners don’t want to give it up unless it’s also for something special. So, in this crazy market — one in which 1M owners could make more than double their initial investment — if they’re going to sell, what could they possibly replace it with. It has to be something special, too, as 1M owners aren’t going to sell just so they can buy a normal BMW M4, or something similar.
Recently, a BMW 1M sold on Bring-A-Trailer for $116,000, so we’re going to use $100,000 as a benchmark for what an owner could get for their 1M. It’s a best-case scenario and not everyone’s 1M will fetch six figures but the BAT sale set the bar, so it’s what we’re going to use. Let’s take a look at some special machines you can get for around that sort of money.
BMW M2 CS
This is the most natural replacement for the BMW 1M, as it’s very similar. Not only is it the M version of BMW’s smallest coupe but it’s a limited-run, ultra special BMW that’s more brilliant to drive than almost any other recent BMW. It also comes with a straight-six engine, a six-speed manual (DCT is available for the M2 CS), and rear-wheel drive. However, it’s bigger, heavier, more tech-forward, and lacks the 1M’s hydraulic steering.
At the moment, you can find M2 CS’ for around $100,000, give or take a few grand, with barely any miles on them. However, the M2 CS was built in greater numbers than the 1M and doesn’t quite have the specialness or the story of the 1M. The latter was built out of leftovers, using a Z4 engine and E92 M3 parts, and yet was somehow absolutely brilliant to drive. The M2 CS had the most advanced tech BMW M had available thrown at it, so its greatness is no surprise. I can see 1M customers wanting the M2 CS but it’s likely they’ll just keep their car, as it’s essentially the same thing but more special.
BMW M4 CSL
This one is more of an unknown. While we’re quite confident in our knowledge of the upcoming M4 CSL, nothing has been confirmed yet. So no one quite knows what it’s going to be, exactly. However, we do know it will be a limited-run, track-focused, ultra-special BMW M4. It will also be the last of its kind, as it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a purely internal combustion CSL model after it. It’s also almost certainly going to be sensational to drive, as the standard M4 is already great and BMW’s M Division has worked wonders with its recent CS models.
However, the M4 CSL will likely be auto-only and it still wears its highly controversial grille. BMW 1M owners already have something highly desirable and it’s unclear how well that new M4’s nose will age over time. Will it hurt the car’s value over the next decade or so? That’s yet to be seen. Plus, as excellent as it may be, the M4 CSL won’t have the purity the 1M has. The old car uses hydraulic steering, a proper six-speed manual without rev-matching, and no fancy aero. It’s just good old fashioned driving, something the M4 CSL won’t be.
Porsche Cayman GT4
Of all the cars 1M owners could replace their cars with, this is probably the best choice. Not only is it a known entity (unlike the unknown M4 CSL) but it’s still currently on sale, so it hasn’t yet suffered the insane market hike of a used car, like the M2 CS. Admittedly, it’s damn-near impossible to get an allocation on one right now but, if you can get one, it’s probably the best 1M replacement you’ll find.
For starters, it’s flipping sensational to drive. The mid-engine Cayman GT4 takes the Cayman’s already brilliant package, adds 911 GT3 suspension bits, gets a GT3 4.0 liter naturally-aspirated flat-six, comes with a six-speed manual, and absolutely demolishes almost every new car, in terms of driving engagement and steering feel. It’s among the greatest driving cars on the planet. It’s also quite special, as it’s difficult to get, and it’s the last of its kind, as the Cayman is going electric for its next-generation. Never again will there be a naturally-aspirated flat-six-powered Cayman.
Yes, it’s expensive, at $101,000 to start and will quickly jump up to $120,000 with Porsche’s infamous option costs, but it’s only going to go up from here. Not only will it provide a driving experience that either rivals or bests the 1M but it will appreciate in value every bit as well, if not better.
C8 Corvette Z06
I mentioned this one to Horatiu during our discussion about this topic and he laughed at me. BMW owners typically don’t want Corvettes and, despite loving the C8 Corvette, I sort of get that. However, true car enthusiasts shouldn’t dismiss the upcoming Z06 out of hand. The upcoming Corvette Z06 will likely cost close to $100,000 and when it releases it will be a mid-engine supercar with a naturally-aspirated flat-plane crank V8 with 670 horsepower and an 8,600 rpm redline. It will also have a suspension setup designed for the track. That engine, by the way, is a stroke of genius and a real marvel of modern engine design.
I’ve driven the C8 Corvette Z51 and it’s a more enjoyable car to drive than some M cars on sale. So I can only imagine how good the new Z06 is going to be. Admittedly, Corvettes don’t hold their value remarkably well in the short term, so the Z06 might not be a great investment initially. However, ‘Vettes tend to become highly desirable, especially among Corvette nerds, as the years get on. Plus, this new Z06 will be the first-ever flat-plane crank Corvette and the first GM product to use this all-new engine. Considering electrification is in the ‘Vette’s future, this might actually be a good idea.
This is another option — don’t sell it. The BMW 1M is a special little slice of BMW history, a brief bit of skunkworks madness that we’ll likely never see again. It’s fantastic to drive, looks cool, and is even rarer than even some ultra-rare exotics. For many owners, nothing else will suffice and that’s easy to understand. However, we’re open to suggestions, so if you can think of something special that might be worth replacing the 1M, let us know.