BMW introduced the original 1 Series in 2004, but what if it had made an entry-level car in the late 1980s? A new rendering from talented Abimelec Design envisions an alternate history, one in which there was 1er back in 1989. His idea was to create a 125i with an inline-six engine and rear-wheel drive, long before the real 125i launched in the mid-2000s.

The design exercise proposes a 1 Series with a few bits borrowed from the 3 Series E30 of those days. No, the artist didn’t forget about the 3 Series Compact that preceded the 1 Series E87 as BMW’s cheapest car. His hypothetical car was digitally conceived as a separate 1er rather than a shortened hatchback version of the 3 Series that the Compact was during its two generations.

Abimelec went as far as to create an imaginary ad for his six-cylinder 125i. The 1980s 1 Series that never was had the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gasoline engine sourced from the 325i E30. It’s the M20 with 170 horsepower and 164 pound-feet (222 Newton-meters) of torque. There are even fuel economy numbers listed in the ad, along with a 0 to 60 mph of six and a half seconds. This goes to show the amount of effort put in by the artist.

It wasn’t until 1994 when BMW introduced the 3 Series Compact (E36/5), which spawned a more potent 323ti with a six-cylinder engine a few years later. There was also a 325ti during the life cycle of the second-generation model (E46/5). However, the Compact has never generally been well-received by enthusiasts. This 1 Series wants to be a different car, developed from the ground up as a separate model.

Today’s 1 Series is much different than previous generations and the 3 Series Compact before them. BMW uses a front-wheel-drive-based platform and only four-cylinder engines. Perhaps the 323ti and 325ti weren’t that bad, eh?

Source: Abimelec Design / Facebook