BMW M1

1980

  • On the BMW stand of the 1978 Paris automobile show, the crowds clamor to get a look at a superb new racecar-inspired automobile. Christened the M1, it was the first of the Motorsport division.
  • This compact sports coupe, one of the most expensive on the market, made a thunderous entry into the closed circles of the motor sporting world, housing a 277 hp 6 cylinder engine inside its fiber-glass body work.
  • In designing the first supercar with a centrally mounted rear engine, the Bavarian manufacturer reopened the doors to the greatest endurance races and won the respect of its peers.

In 1972, to make its mark on the race track, BMW formed an autonomous and specialized division called BMW Motorsport GmbH. First on the agenda was the M1, an automobile whose exceptional engineering and rarity has led to it becoming one of the most desired and collected BMWs. In 2008, the Bavarian manufacturer was not exaggerating the model's importance when it proposed a design competition at the Villa d'Este under the moniker "M1 Homage".

In March 1972 at the Geneva automobile show, BMW presented the Turbo show car. Designed by Paul Bracq and built in Michelotti's Turin workshops, this two-seater coupé with gull-wing doors, inspired by the famous Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, suggested a brilliant future for the series. The Lamborghini-built tubular chassis supported polyester bodywork as well as the 2002 Turbo's central-rear mounted flat 4 cylinder engine; BMW's first use of this mounting location.

In October of the following year, responding to the American aid provided to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, the OPEC member nations decided to drastically increase the price of petrol, then imposed an embargo against the countries that supported Israel. This conflict threw the world into the first oil crisis, whose repercussions were felt across all economic sectors. Following the example of the other automobile manufacturers, BMW was forced to put a number of its projects on hold, including the development of the 1972 prototype, known internally at the time as the E26.

To be continued...