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1978→1981 BMW M1

Whilst the 6 Series made its debut, engineers were secretly working on the development of a distinctive BMW sports car, which caused a worldwide sensation in 1978: The BMW M1. This high-performance coupé was the first product to be made by the BMW Motorsport GmbH. In 1979, the M1 was presented as part of the ProCar Series, which had been especially created for this car, within the framework of Formula 1 racing throughout Europe.

The mid-engined car was powered by a big straight-six engine displacing 3.5 litres. The purchasable road version’s power unit, which was longitudinally mounted in front of the rear axle, conveyed maximum power of 277 bhp to the rear axle. Even at a standstill, the M1 exuded an air of superior dynamics. Acceleration from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) came in less than 6 seconds, the sprint from 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) took a mere 20 seconds, these being acceleration rates only reached by a handful of automobiles world-wide at that time. The suspension, the layout of which had been adapted to the requirements of the Group 4 M1 delivering 470 mph, easily coped with the deceleration, acceleration and lateral acceleration rates that are standard in racing.

Although the M1 was a sports car par excellence, the driver and the co-driver did not forgo the benefit of comfortable motoring. It is true that the springs featured by the suspension were rather firm but the suspension’s absorption qualities on bumpy roads were high enough to prevent excessive strain on the passengers. The passengers were very well protected inside the tubular space frame made of square steel profiles with a bonded and riveted plastic body shell.

Torsional resistance was exemplary. In the boot underneath the front lid there was enough room to store the luggage needed by two persons for a weekend trip. Passengers were even in a position to enjoy the advantages of automatic climate control.

1980 BMW M1 Gallery

See full 1980 BMW M1 Gallery here

In Detail

type Series Production Car
production years 1978 – 1981
built at Germany
price $ $ 115,000
engine Inline-6
valvetrain DOHC 4 Valves / Cyl
displacement 3453 cc / 210.7 in³
bore 93.4 mm / 3.68 in
stroke 84.0 mm / 3.31 in
compression 9.0:1
power 206.6 kw / 277 bhp @ 6500 rpm
specific output 80.22 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 179.4 bhp per tonne
torque 330.0 nm / 243.4 ft lbs @ 5000 rpm
body / frame Fibreglass
driven wheels Mid Engine / RWD
front tires 205/55VR-16
rear tires 205/50VR-16
front brakes Vented Discs w/Vacuum Assist
rear brakes Discs
front wheels F 40.6 x 17.8 cm / 16.0 x 7.0 in
rear wheels R 40.6 x 20.3 cm / 16.0 x 8.0 in
steering Rack & Pinion
curb weight 1544 kg / 3404 lbs
wheelbase 2560 mm / 100.8 in
front track 1550 mm / 61.0 in
rear track 1576 mm / 62.0 in
length 4360 mm / 171.7 in
width 1824 mm / 71.8 in
height 1140 mm / 44.9 in
transmission 5-Speed Manual
gear ratios 2.42:1, 1.61:1, 1.14:1, 0.85:1, 0.70:1
final drive 4.22:1
top speed ~260 kph / 161.6 mph
0 – 60 mph ~6.2 seconds
0 – 100 mph ~15.1 seconds
0 – 1/4 mile ~14.5 seconds

Auction Sales History

1980 BMW M1 WBS59910004301292 – sold for $462,000 Authentic and unrestored example. One of Two Originally Produced in Black. Originally delivered to the UK, this car was imported to the US, then purchased and owned for at least 14 years by The Shelton Trust of Houston, Texas.
Auction Source: The Pebble Beach Auctions 2015 by Gooding and Company

1981 BMW M1 COUPE WBS59910004301336 – sold for $605,000 Fewer than 7,600 miles on the clock. One of only 453 M1s built. Italian styling paired with German engineering. A legend of the 1980s.
Auction Source: The Amelia Island Auction 2015 by Bonhams

1980 BMW M1 WBS00000094301096 – did not sell for $375,000 Low production matching numbers M1. 1 of 397 total production road cars built from 1978-1981. 1 of 98 road cars painted Orange. Correct Black cloth and leather interior. 36,000 original kilometers which converts to 22,400 miles. Three owner car. 3.5L factory BMW twin cam dry sump fuel injected engine producing 273 HP with top speed of 162 mph. Original 5-speed transmission. Original factory Campagnolo wheels. Pirelli tires. BMW Procar front spoiler. Extremely rare BMW M1 originally built by BMW and Lamborghini for homologation for sports car racing. “Can not be registered in California”
Auction Source: Monterey 2014 by Mecum Auctions

1980 BMW M1 AHG Studie WBS00000094301090 – did not sell for $400,000 One of only 10 examples created by AHG. M1 Procar-style bodywork; uprated to 350 horsepower. Original and unrestored, with less than 7,000 kilometers. Unique BMW Motorsport tri-color livery.
Auction Source: 2014 Monterey by RM Auctions

1980 BMW M1 WBS59910004301385 – sold for $379,500 The Original BMW “M” Car. One of Only 399 Road Cars Built. Impressively Maintained and Documented Example. Single-Family Ownership for Three Decades. Approximately 25,000 Miles from New. Offered with Tool Kit, Service Records, and CARFAX Report. An Important Piece of BMW History.
Auction Source: The Amelia Island Auction by Gooding & Company

1980 BMW M1 WBS59910004301194 – sold for $440,000 The Original BMW “M” Car. One of Only 399 Road-Going Examples Built. Exceptional As-Delivered Condition Vibrant Inka Orange Livery. Just Over 2,700 Miles from New Single-Family Ownership for Over 20 Years. Offered with Tool Kit and Recent Service Records.
Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auctions by Gooding & Company

1980 BMW M1 WBS59910004301360 – sold for $185,000 Engine #387 M88 3.5L 3,453 CC DOHC Straight-6. 5-speed transmission. Believed to be 2,300 actual kilometers. Correct color code 208 for Red. Very rare 1 of 399 built. 1 of 72 red BMW M1’s made in 1980. Built by BMW and Lamborghini collaboratively. Recently imported into the US. One of a handful non federalized and not EPA modified.
Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum

1980 BMW M1 WBS59910004301154 – sold for $242,000 The Original BMW “M” Car. One of Only 456 Examples Built. Spectacular Giugiaro Design. Well-Kept, Highly Original Condition. Long-Term California Car with Approximately 30,000 Miles. Federalized Example Imported by Hardy & Beck. Offered with Tool Kit and Recent Service Records. An Important Piece of BMW History.
Auction Source: 2012 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company

1980 BMW M1 Ahg – sold for $155,000 The M1 was a limited production car with only 455 built from 1979 to 1981. This car is 1 of 10 that received the AHG package. The AHG/BMW Motorsports Division president Peter Gartemann list the modifications as follows: The 3.5 Liter 277 HP was upgraded to 350 HP, Racing clutch, Special exhaust, Front spoiler, wider front and rear fenders, Side skirts, special rear wing, Adjustable height racing, suspension, 3 piece BBS wheels, Full leatherseats were added, The Motorsports paint scheme separates these cars from the pack.
Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Daytime Auction by Mecum

1979 BMW M1 – sold for €129,734 The model presented, in a stunning red colour, was acquired by the current owner on 18 April 2007 at a Hervé Poulain auction at the Palais des Congrès. After it was purchased, the engine needed repairing, which was done by the excellent BMW specialist workshop, BM92 JCB, at a total cost of €30,514.47 (invoice dated 17 April 2009). Its interior is covered in the classic black and white fabric characteristic of the M1 series. It has 24,600 km on
Auction Source: 2011 Salon Rétromobile Aucion by Artcurial

1980 BMW M1 – sold for $91,000 This left-hand drive M1’s first owner (in the USA) purchased the car from Motorcar Gallery of Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 28th December 1990 at which time the odometer read 5,859 miles. The present (second US) owner purchased it in November 2000 at 11,747 miles, while the current reading is 13,009. This M1’s already superlative specification has been improved upon by Dinan Cars of Morgan Hill, California – North America’s foremost BMW performance specialists – who ‘smog converted’ the car by installing a US-market M6 fuel injection system and catalytic converter. This digital technology enables the M1 to pass the emissions tests while both increasing power and improving durability. Other enhancements fitted while in current ownership include Phillips xenon headlight bulbs and a Nakamichi AM/FM/CD stereo system, which were installed in December 2000. Finished in white with black leather interior – the ‘classic’ color combination for this model – the car is offered complete with tool kit, all service records from May 1992 onwards and Certificate of Title. An important landmark in BMW’s history, and in particular of its involvement with motor sport in the post-war era, the M1 is already highly collectible and is surely destined to become increasingly sought after by discerning aficionados of the marque.

Auction Source: 2006 Monterey Preview