BMW M1 Documentary & History – Video
“In the 1970’s production car racing was highly successful. There were times we had more visitors than Formula One, for example at the 6-Hours of the Nürburgring. And we had races where up to ten Formula One drivers were racing touring cars. So it was a great time, a good time for touring cars. At the time we were racing the 3.0 CSL Coupé very successfully and won many championships. However, in those days you had to have a homologation to race a car in motorsports, which meant you had to build up to 1,000 identical series production cars. These series production cars had to have the same weight as the race cars. Our BMW cars of the time had one problem and that was that they were very comfortable cars, heavier than large series production cars. So we concluded logically that we have to build a car in future that is designed for the race track and then convert it to the road.” “The concept was daring. We presented it to the Board of Management and when we finally got the Go-ahead; it was as a concept for the GT category. So we did not have to build 1,000 cars but only 400 a year to get the homologation.
This car was then intended to become the main instrument for BMW motorsports in future.””As the car was built as a race car, the Motorsport GmbH was given the job to oversee both its development as well as the production.” “So we had the approval and decision of the Board of Management to get started on the Project E26 as it was called in those days. One year later we signed an agreement with Lamborghini for the construction and production of 800 M1s. Four hundred cars were to be built within the first year, for the homologation, and thereafter one car was to be built per day. Only 6 months after the signing of the contract we received the first prototypes, and within two years we started production of the cars.” “The M1 was to become the racing machine for the production sports car of the future. Sadly Lamborghini hit production problems and when we wanted to start building the car Lamborghini had payment troubles with funds going in the wrong direction so that we couldn’t be certain that the money was actually going into our project. So we terminated the contract with Lamborghini and had to set up a new production line, which was rather complicated and the out of sheer need. We had the body built by Giugiaro, that is Italdesign in Torino, had the car’s engine and powertrain assembled at Baur and completed the final inspection and delivery at the Motorsport GmbH.” “As we were unable to produce the 400 cars within one year, we had the problem of now having to build a car for two years that we could not race in motorsports.
So we founded Procar, a race series, in which the M1 was to showcase its real qualities. This was a race series that you cannot find anymore today and which will probably never exist again. Because it brought together the five best Formula One drivers from the Friday training session who then raced against the 20 to 25 best touring car and GT drivers of Europe. These races were just fantastic. The Procar series lived on for two years, after which the M1 was homologated and became ready for normal motorsport racing.” At the same time BMW entered Formula One, so that Formula One became the main project and the M1 as a production car, was, shall I say, slightly neglected.” “When we went public with the project and said that we would race on Saturday in the Formula One race with the Formula One drivers, no one thought that.