BMW’s glorious M1 supercar is a rare mix of stunning performance and practicality. Whenever it has been compared to other high performance sports cars from the 1970s and 80s by the motoring press it is always the BMW which comes out on top.
The original concept was for a car which BMW could compete with in the Ferrari type market place, but which provided BMW-style reliability. However the Bavarian company were sufficiently aware of their inexperience in this field so Lamborghini was called in to design and develop the car, with the intention that they would be built under licence in the Sant’ Agata manufacturer’s factory. However at the crucial time Lamborghini went through one of their periodic financial crises and takeovers, so none of the production examples were actually built in Italy.
The bodywork was styled by Giugiaro’s, Ital Design; with stunning compact two door coupe coachwork which accommodated two occupants and a mid-mounted six cylinder twin cam 24 valve BMW Motorsport engine with fuel injection. In this application 277 bhp was coaxed out of the superb motor, allowing a maximum speed in excess of 160 mph. and a 0-60 mph. sprint in 5.5 seconds. Handling was vice less and reliability was excellent. Furthermore, levels of comfort were of a degree unheard of in a mid-engined supercar up till then.
This extraordinary BMW M1 was built to standard specification in 1979 and delivered to it’s first owner in Berlin the following year. In 1981 the car was purchased by renowned racing driver, Harald Ertl, the following year; at which point the car went through an extreme makeover! Developed in conjunction with British Petroleum who were looking to promote their new Autogas product, this unique M1 was hoping to break 300km/h to set a new record. Using Gustav Hoecker Sportwagen-Service GmbH, Ertl had the M1 engine fitted with twin KKK turbochargers developing in the region of 410bhp. On 17th October, 1981, Ertl managed to achieve a record breaking 301.4km/h.
This wonderfully sleek and even more aggressively-styled M1 has recently been unearthed from a garage in East London, ‘lost’ for nearly a quarter of a century and coming to the market for the first time since 1993; this is possibly the rarest M1 in the models history. Undoubtedly a piece of motoring history and the subject of several magazine articles, this is a hugely interesting prospect for any serious enthusiast or collector.