Every now and then, carmakers experience a lucid moment and embark on a trip to step out of their comfort zone and create a vehicle stretching the company’s identity. These unique moments in time have a tendency to produce mixed results, but they are also fondly remembered in the hearts of true aficionados. One of those cars is BMW M1, a unique supercar breakthrough by a then-developing Bavarian company.
Built in very limited numbers and with moderate success, this dramatic wedge-shaped automobile hides a perplexing origin story ending in a chapter about one of the most coveted BMW collector automobiles today.
The M1 was conceived by BMW’s motorsport division as a homologation model for FIA Group 5 sports car racing. Initially intended for joint construction with Lamborghini, the collaboration fell through, leading to the Italian firm Marchesi building the Gianpaolo Dallara-designed spaceframe.
The fiberglass bodywork, styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was crafted by Trasformazione Italiana Resina, with Italdesign in Turin completing the bodies before final hand assembly by Baur in Stuttgart. Both road-going and racing variants were simultaneously produced, totaling approximately 450 units.
Powering the M1 is a mid-mounted 3,453cc M88 inline-six featuring dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication, Kugelfischer-Bosch fuel injection, Magneti-Marelli ignition, and six individual throttle bodies. The factory-rated output stands at 277 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque.