Bred to compete against Porsche and Ferrari — both on the street and in the Group 4 and Group 5 ‘silhouette’ racing series of the late 1970s — BMW’s M1 might have suffered a truncated and inglorious career on the track, but its progressive fusion of German performance and Italian styling has earned it deserved iconic status among modern production sports cars.
First shown to the public at the 1978 Paris Auto Salon, the M1 (internally designated the E26) was a bold, even audacious concept, coming as it was from a company with modest resources. Motorsport chief Jochen Neerpasch, though, realized he needed something special to replace the aging 3.0 CSL coupé that had been competing in the European Touring Car Championship. His proposal, based on Paul Bracq’s mid-engine 2002 Turbo show car from 1972, was given the green light, with the proviso, however, that development would not interfere with BMW’s core business of building passenger cars. Denied factory resources, Neerpasch looked toward Italy and came to an agreement with Lamborghini to engineer a chassis and with ItalDesign to craft the bodywork. A total of 400 examples were to be built to meet Group 4 homologation rules, but financial distress soon had Lamborghini dropping out of the project (and delaying it for so long that the M1 was not officially homologated until spring of 1981, too late to compete in Group 4). Happily, though, the M1 project did not leave Lamborghini before Gian Paolo Dallara, chassis maestro behind the Miura and Countach, drew up the tube-frame layout and outlined the suspension setup.
Meanwhile, ItalDesign’s Giorgetto Giugiaro had penned the M1’s distinctively wedge-shaped bodywork. Responsibility for chassis construction was passed to Italian firm Marchese, while fiberglass specialist T.I.R. was contracted to mold the GRP body panels. ItalDesign then installed the interior before the car was shipped to Baur in Germany for mating with the BMW drivetrain. Final prep was conducted at BMW M’s facility in Munich.
The example on offer here was built to BMW M1 specification in 1995 and is offered with a Carbon body and monocoque, V8 6 litre Chevy engine and Hewland VGC gearbox. Included in the sale is the FIA Swedish Automobile Sports Federation Vagnbok which recognises the car as a 1995 BMW M1 and shows many of the races it has competed in throughout the 2000s. Offered in good condition throughout the M1 is ready to race.