BMW M1 Explained – Video
In the late 1970s, Italian manufacturer Lamborghini entered into an agreement with BMW to build a production racing car in sufficient quantity for homologation, but conflicts arose that prompted BMW to produce the car themselves. The result was sold to the public, from 1978 to 1981, as the BMW M1. It is the first mid-engined BMW to be mass-produced, the second is the BMW i8. It employs a twin-cam M88/1 3.5 L six-cylinder petrol engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. A version of this motor was later used in the South African version of the BMW 745i, of which 209 examples were built between 1984 and 1986, as well as the E24 BMW M6/M635CSi and E28 BMW M5. The engine has six separate throttle bodies, four valves per cylinder and produces 277 PS (204 kW; 273 hp) in the street version, giving a top speed of 260 km/h (162 mph). Turbocharged racing versions are capable of producing around 850 hp (634 kW).
The M1 coupe was hand-built between 1978 and 1981 under the motorsport division of BMW as a homologation special for sports car racing. The body was designed by Giugiaro, taking inspiration from the 1972 BMW Turbo show car. Originally, BMW commissioned Lamborghini to work out the details of the car’s chassis, assemble prototypes and manufacture the vehicles, but Lamborghini’s financial position meant that BMW reassumed control over the project in April 1978, after seven prototypes were built. Since the engineering of the car was still incomplete, a group of former Lamborghini engineers that had founded a company named Italengineering offered to complete the car’s design. Less than 10 miles away from the Lamborghini shop, the engineering for the M1 was finished. Only 453 production M1s were built, making it one of BMW’s rarest models. Of the 453 produced, 20 were race versions created for the BMW M1 Procar Championship.
The M1 had various successes in motorsports. In 2004, Sports Car International placed the car at number ten on their list of top sports cars of the 1970s.
The M1 is not related to BMW’s 1-series compact executive car which started production in the 2004 model year, nor is it related to the BMW 1 Series M Coupe which started production in the 2010 model year.