BMW M1 (1978-1981)
BMW is loved throughout the automotive world. However everyone, even those that don’t care about cars, know their biggest weakness: Stylistically thinking inside the box.
You see, for decades, BMW has played by the rules. They are masters at taking something and making it smooth, luxurious, streamlined, and balanced. Thats how they got the moniker “The Ultimate Driving Machine” They have a wagon, an SUV, a coupe, a cross-over, and of course, plenty of sedans. If they ever wanted a sports car, they would take one of these frames, upgrade the suspension, brakes, and give it a killer engine and transmission.
But, as stated before, this approach lacks dramatic styling. It leaves the driver with nothing more than an upgraded version of what already exists.
If BWM breaks the mold every once in a while, the M1 was designed to decimate it.
Lamborghini and BMW decided to come together to make a super car that they could share together. Similar to today’s Subaru BRZ and Scion FRS. The famed Italian designer of the DeLorean DMC-12 and Lotus Esprit, Gioregetto Giugiaro, took the 1972 BMW Turbo as a platform and went from there. Although breaking new ground, the M1 still has styling nods that you see in an every day BMW. The front bumper facade and grille for example, is a flattened version of what you might see in other BMWs. Even the rear lights have those signature Bimmer touches. Despite all of that, it is completely in its own class. If no logos were present, one would probably not even think it was German. Updating the styling dramatically, the Italians were also in charge of the frame and handling itself. However, the partnership fell though, as Lamborghini didn’t have as much money to put into the project.
BMW took over and also hired a few disgruntled Italians to come work for them in the process. Vowing to take the car from concept to production, BMW placed one of their famous straight six cylinder engines into this lightweight mid-engine platform. Although only a 6 cylinder, BMW placed 4 valves per cylinder, giving it 273hp. Not bad for a 6 cylinder from the late 70s. The non-street legal version produced by BMW turbocharged the same vehicle to a outstanding 850hp.
So why haven’t you seen these around or in music videos and bedroom wall posters? Well, BMW only made 433 commercially available. They do exist, but like the Vector, are extremely rare and expensive.
The average model auctions now for well over $500,000. For $150,000 you can get BMWs insanely fast and hip successor model, the new BMW i8. As for this author, if I was a multimillionaire, I would stick with the M1. It’s got a style and charm unique and all its own. Thats not something you can say for a lot of Bimmers.