This year marks the 50th anniversary of the BMW M division, so the Bavarian brand is naturally celebrating this milestone by showcasing some of the most iconic cars in its history. Although there are countless classics in the history of the M Division, there is one car that stands out above all in terms of importance – the BMW M1.
Admittedly, the BMW M1 was designed before the M Division was actually used to build road cars. At the time, the BMW M was truly a motorsport division and developed the M1 as a race car. To take part in the races in which the BMW M wanted to take part, the M1 race car had to be homologated for the roads. Which made the road car version of the M1 more of a necessity than anything else. Despite this, he became an icon of the brand, even if at one time he was not as valuable as he should have been.
Honestly, the M1 was doomed from the start. BMW initially commissioned Lamborghini to develop the M1, but the Italian brand’s financial problems led to its abandonment of the project, leaving Giugiaro to withdraw from the design contract. While Giugiaro created a stunning supercar with a medium engine, the rest of its production required separate delivery of the body, engine and chassis to a central place for assembly, and all this was too expensive and complicated.
Then, as soon as BMW found out, the racing series in which the M1 was to compete was canceled, leaving the BMW M with a very expensive car, which now could not get its money back from winning the race. Which made the road car absurdly expensive and ultimately failed the sale.
It is a pity that M1 was such a failure of sales, however. Despite all the difficulties and controversies, the BMW M1 was a brilliant car to drive. Its chassis was balanced, its suspension was amazingly flexible, its steering was precise and sociable, and its engine – a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine designed for motorsport – was an absolute pleasure to use. Many experts say that this is the first everyday supercar, because its performance competed with real supercars with a V12 engine of its time, but it was comfortable and easy to drive on a daily basis. Cars such as the Audi R8 and McLaren 570S owe their existence to the M1.
Despite its unusual and bright past, the BMW M1 remains one of the most iconic and beloved beamers of all time and deserves to be celebrated on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the road car division.