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THE SPORTS CAR ICON.THE SPORTS CAR ICON.

THE SPORTS CAR ICON.

4 min reading time

The BMW M1 from 1978.

Technical pioneer, stylistic milestone and a classy race car: this is the BMW M1.

12 March 2018

As well as being one of the most famous sports cars of the 1970s, the M1 is a fascinating vehicle that shaped BMW M like no other. Boasting a powerful 6-cylinder in-line engine and a striking name, the BMW M1 became a major player in the automotive world when it debuted in 1978. It can even be said that it exceeded all expectations and became an automotive legend. Four decades ago its timeless design combined with pure racing technology cast a spell upon fans of cars and racing alike and continues to do so to this day.

5 FACTS ABOUT THE BMW M1

  • The design is by Giorgio Giugiaro
  • Performance-oriented mid-engine concept
  • Max. output: 277 hp
  • Max. Speed: 265 km/h
  • 460 models were built

STREET LEGAL RACING CAR.

THE GENESIS.

1,14 metres

tall, the BMW M1 at its highest point, the roof. For comparison: the current BMW M3 G80 measures at least 1.39 metres.
BMW M1 Design SkizzeBMW M1 Design Skizze

PIONEERING DESIGN.

BMW M1BMW M1

The shape of the BMW M1 goes back to the 1972 study of the BMW Turbo designed by Paul Bracq and was created by renowned vehicle designer Giorgio Giugiaro. With the BMW M1, the Italian produced a timeless design, and its dynamic body type helped cement its place in automotive history. Thanks to its striking wedge shape, Giugiaro succeeded in impressively combining sportiness and aesthetics.

Among the key characteristics of the M1’s distinctive look are its folding headlights, flat kidney at the front, and black slats over the rear window. Above all, however, is its low height of only 1.14 metres – a fundamental design feature that allowed it to achieve a low centre of gravity for maximum cornering speeds. At first glance, it is clear that pure racing DNA lies underneath this brilliant body.

FASCINATING TECHNOLOGY.

BMW M1BMW M1

The pure performance data of the M1 engine remains evident today. The 6-cylinder in-line petrol engine of the road version delivers 204 kW (277 hp) and generates a maximum torque of 330 Nm. It draws this power from 3.5 litres of displacement. Its four valves per cylinder, which work together with mechanical injection were far ahead of their time, while its impressive top speed of around 265 km/h made the BMW M1 the fastest German road sports car of the era.

Meanwhile, it featured the typical M1 sound of the high-revving in-line 6-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. Thanks to this, owners and racing drivers continue to drive the wedge-shaped BMW with great enthusiasm to this day.

LIGHTWEIGHT IS SILVER, BUT HANDLING IS GOLDEN.

BMW M1BMW M1

The BMW M1’s empty weight was only 1,300 kg, which combined with the ideal weight distribution through the mid-engine concept led to outstanding handling characteristics. The engine of this top athlete – named M88 internally – achieved continued success for a long time: at the beginning of the 1980s, it served as the basis for the engines of the BMW M635i and the very first BMW M5.

More about the very first BMW M5

EXCITING SPORTS CAR CHARACTER.

BMW M1BMW M1

Due to its concept and design, the BMW M1 was optimised for the challenges of the race track. At the same time, this exceptional athlete also master all the requirements required for a road license.

THE BMW M1 PROCAR.

THE BMW M1 PROCAR.

As part of the European Formula 1 races, in 1979 and 1980 the BMW Procar Series was one of the most spectacular racing series in the motorsport world. But why does the BMW M1 Procar that starred in it still inspire such love 40 years after it debuted?

ANDY WARHOL BMW M1.

PROCAR AS AN ART CAR.

A version of the BMW M1 Procar that featured an exterior design by the American Pop Art artist Andy Warhol achieved huge popularity. He continued BMW’s fine tradition of the art car, and his elaborately decorated version is one of the most valuable BMW M vehicles of all time. Somewhat curiously, at least from today’s perspective, the Warhol-designed M1 Procar even competed in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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BMW M1 HOMMAGE.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1 in April 2008, BMW unveiled a concept car, the BMW M1 Hommage. Many design details of this fire-red model later found themselves in vehicles such as the BMW i8 a few years later.

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