A BMW in Classic, 1970s Sports Car Clothing: the BMW M1

April 11, 2018

If you paid a visit to the recently-concluded Manila International Auto Show 2018, you may have noticed one of the cars on display at the BMW booth was a classic M1 sports car. Clad in racing red, the M1 stood out not only because of its eye-catching paintwork but also because of its links to the German carmaker’s past.

While BMW is known mainly as a maker of luxury sedans, coupes, and wagons, the blue-and-white propeller badge has likewise adorned quite a number of sporty offerings. To be more specific, BMW’s M division not only stands for Motorsport but likewise adds performance and even more driving pleasure to what are essentially everyday road cars.

And one of these in the M1. But this is not exactly a typical M-badged model. On the contrary, it possesses something special within those flanks. The looks, for instance, can easily be mistaken for an Italian sports car. True enough, the exterior penned by Giugiaro was indeed the result of a partnership between BMW and Lamborghini in the late 1970s to build a homologation special for motor racing.  

Underneath that sleek, low-slung sheetmetal was a midship-mounted 3.5-liter straight-six that put out 277hp—the same motor that would later on be used in the E28 M5. The design made it a joy to drive, as many enthusiasts claim, thanks in no small part to the low center of gravity, along with the lack of modern-day conveniences like power steering or assisted brakes. This meant loads of feedback for the driver.

Yet beyond the mechanical aspects, the BMW M1 was also a rarity. At the time, it was even more expensive than a Ferrari, partly due to its limited numbers. Being a homologation special, only 453 examples were built between 1978 and 1981—399 or which were road cars while the rest were for the track.

Put all these together and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a classic sports car. One that didn’t have the usual quirks that made these types of cars a pain to drive and maintain during the era of bell-bottoms and the disco. This was a proper car that was clad in a desirable, sharp-looking bodyshell. And to this day, car aficionados are drooling over it. Need we say more?

Photos: Paolo Lesaca

About the Author

Mr. Gerard Jude Castillo
Gerard has been a self-confessed car nut ever since he was a little boy. As a grown-up, he indulges in his passion by collecting toy cars (which he started since childhood) and reading up on the latest cars out there.  As Associate Editor, he will ensure that you get your fill of the latest cars in the market, as well as a load of automotive features.