1981 BMW M1

Update 7/29/18: After listing in May at $875,000, the seller has dropped the price to $725,000 – still high for the model, but not as far out of line. Will it sell this time around?

I give Audi a lot of credit for bringing the R8 to market. It took a fair amount of gall for a company best known for mid-range all-wheel drive luxury sedans to up and produce a supercar-beating mid-engine road car capable of being used year-round and every day. It’s a feat nearly without precedent. Of course, I said “nearly”.

That’s because BMW pulled off a similar trick the best part of thirty years before Audi did it. And arguably the development of what would become BMW’s fledgling Motorsports division was even more impressive than what Ingolstadt pulled off. The M1 burst onto the scene at a time of economic austerity, global oil crises and came from a company who not only didn’t have a history of producing such cars, but didn’t have connections to others who did (unlike Audi’s corporate Lamborghini partnership).

Speaking of Lamborghini, because of BMW’s lack of expertise in supercar design it was the Sant’Agata firm that was employed to produce the M1. But because of Lamborghini’s lack of expertise at being…well, a company capable of producing something on a schedule, BMW engineers had to first liberate the early molds from Italy and then find someone who could produce the car. Ultimately, it was a combination of ItalDesign in Turin, Marchesi metal working in Modena to build the frames and Karosserie Baur in Stuttgart that stuck the M1 together. Though it doesn’t exactly sound like a match made in heaven, and indeed the M1 was a relative sales flop, it has nonetheless grown to cult status as one of the most user-friendly supercars of the late 1970s:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 BMW M1 on eBay

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1981 BMW M1

There are a few strange similarities between yesterday’s 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V and today’s subject – the much more elusive and legendary BMW M1. Both were sporty cars developed from more pedestrian beginnings. Both featured high-revving dual-overhead cam motors. But the interesting part comes in the sublet of construction, and the design. Both have links to Giugiaro, but both also borrowed heavily from other designs.

In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars last year, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 BMW M1 on eBay

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1980 BMW M1

In an article I penned for The Truth About Cars last week, I covered some of the development of the Wedge Era and how those spectacular show car designs channeled their design language down to more pedestrian models. One of the stars of that article were the cutting-edge looks from Giugiaro’s ItalDesign – the firm, and man, responsible for some of your favorites such as the basic shape for the Audi Quattro. But while the Quattro launched its brand into the luxury realm and redefined the 80s, the undisputed German star of the wedgey wonders was the BMW M1.

Like the Quattro, the M1 redefined and refined BMW’s core mission, helping to launch the Motorsport division along with the 3.0 CSL and 2002 Turbo. While Giugiaro had also had his hand in the M1’s design, the genesis of the shape lay in the much earlier Paul Bracq designed Turbo concept. Bracq, in turn, had undoubtedly been influenced by the late 1960s creations of both Giorgetto Giugiaro (at Ghia and ItalDesign) and Marcello Gandini (Bertone), as well as the efforts and splash rival Mercedes-Benz had made in 1969 with the C111 concept and record setter.

But while Daimler was hesitant to enter serial production with such a departure from their tried and true sedan designs, the M1 proved to be just the spark BMW was looking for to ignite the fire in driving enthusiast’s minds. It was, at the time, the Ultimate Driving Machine:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 BMW M1 on eBay

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1981 BMW M1

One of [whatever]. We hear it quite often here at GCFSB, but we’ve also come across some quite rare machinery in our years of being involved with this site. When I saw this Polaris Silver M1 for sale in Germany, I found it hard to believe that it was one of only three manufactured in this color. Silver is such a common color, especially on our favorite German vehicles. Sure enough, however, they didn’t produce many in this hue. With under 500 built, the M1 was one of the rarest BMWs produced. This car was just the beginning in what would be a long line of high performance machines to wear the Motorsports badge, which would wind up on the posterior of everything from roadsters to Tourings.

Click for details: 1981 BMW M1 on Classic Driver

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Tuner Tuesday: 1979 BMW M1 AHG Studie

While it’s safe to say that all of the legendary BMW M1s have an interesting history, some are a bit more traveled than others. It would be simple to suggest that modifying one of the few M1s produced would be sacrilegious, but in the 1980s anything was fair game in the tuning scene, and let’s not forget that the M1 was a bit of a flop originally. In fact, until very recently the M1 was generally overlooked as a future collectable; prices were higher considering the rarity and provenance of the original M car, but like the Audi Sport Quattro they enjoyed relative obscurity in the general public. So, it’s not much of a surprise that some were modified in period, and AHG was the most famous of the tuners of the M1. Taking the base car to the next level, they customized the interiors and upped the power nearly 30%, along with fitting aero tweaks that were a reminder that the M1 was intended for the track. Looking much like a street worthy Procar, the only thing that was missing were the celebrity race drivers and crashes. Not missing was the high price tag, something that’s back today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW M1 AHG Studie on Hemmings

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1981 BMW M1

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I’ve written up some cool M1s, but this one may take the cake even from the Procar-widebodies if for no other reason than this is the M1 you see in the history books. Orange on black with that badass cloth/leather interior is what the E26 is all about. Add to that the fact that it’s from the badass Canepa Collection and has just 3,300 miles, and this is a frickin’ museum piece. Or it could be… I’m a much bigger fan of cars that are used. I’d construct one of those viewing rooms which the internet has seen made for E30 M3s and Ferraris; I’d soak in the glorious orange like it was a Seasonal Affective Disorder light and bust this thing out a few times a year for some fun.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 BMW M1 at Canepa

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1979 BMW M1 AHG

I think I need to drive an M1 some day. Is it as fast as it looks, or were the roadgoing versions all bark and no bite? Is it sharp like a supercar, or just quick like a smushed BMW sedan? I don’t think you’ll have to ask too many questions before getting in today’s example though, as it has an extremely rare modification package from AHG. Only 10 were made this way and mostly sold to BMW factory race drivers. With fender flares that don’t quite hit Procar levels and a front spoiler that nearly overdoes it, this M1 certainly has the bark but backs it up with the bite as the M88 has been massaged to 350hp, more than enough to motivate the 2,900lb wedge to scary speeds. Painted by a famous German shop in a mental so-80s-it’s-modern ombre, this is an extremely unique M1 being sold by the shop that makes all American 959s possible.

Year: 1979
Model: M1 AHG
Engine: M88/1 tuned to 350hp
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 31,395
Price: If you have to ask…

1979 BMW M1 AHG for sale at Canepa Motors

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1979 BMW M1 AHG VIN: WBS00000094301094

This vehicle, number 94 of approximately 453 M1s produced from 1979-1981, was modified in Germany by AHG, formerly the largest BMW dealer in Europe and now owned by BMW. Only ten M1s ever received the treatment from the AHG M1 Studio, and most were only available to BMW’s factory racers.

According to quotes from then AHG/BMW Motorsports Division president Peter Gartemann the modifications included: The 3.5 Liter 277 HP was upgraded to 350 HP, racing clutch, special exhaust, front air dam with brake ducts, wider front and rear fenders, side skirts, special rear wing, adjustable height suspension, BBS wheels, Cibie lights, full leather seats and special paint.

The car was sold in stock condition to its first owner from Mainz, Germany in November of 1979. In October of 1981 it moved on to what is believed to be the first owners daughter. According to AHG it was then sold to an artist who used the car as a canvas featured in expositions and newspapers. It returned to AHG in May of 1983, who then fitted the car with their special package. The famous German paint shop of Hermann Altmiks was hired to apply the current custom paint scheme. The engine was completely rebuilt and now puts out 350hp as opposed the stock rating of 277hp. The rebuild was completed 1200km (746 miles) before it was shipped to the US in 1984. Since then the car has only covered an additional 6000km (3728 miles.)

4301094 was purchased by an American collector in November of 1983 from Automobile International in Munich, West Germany. It arrived in the US in March of 1984, and received its EPA release letter in December of that year. When imported this M1 was modified for DOT compliance, but was released as EPA exempt (not street legal in California). Full DOT/EPA documentation is included. The NHTSA released the car in 1985, and the car began to appear in shows soon after. 4301094 was very active in the BMW scene until the late 90’s, when it was put in storage as a long term collectable.

In October of 2012 the M1 was awakened once more, and over $3500 in original BMW parts were used in its resurrection. Now in the hands of Canepa the car is receiving a thorough inspection and will be given the care it requires to meet our exacting standards.

With good M1 prices around $250-$350k(!!!), the rarity and BMW-centric nature of the AHG modification makes me think this could go as high as $400k. Unfortunately, at that price this thing is probably destined for a permanent garage spot instead of letting that juiced-up 3.5l sing.

-NR

1980 BMW M1

The M1 was a curious car for BMW; it was unlike anything the company had ever manufactured and we haven’t seen a modern day equivalent since. To this day, it is known as one of the rarest BMW models, yet its influence throughout the lineup can be seen right up to this day. This was the car that kickstarted BMW’s Motorsport division into the mainstream, as the M88 inline six lived on in such cars as the E24 M6 and M635CSi and E28 M5. It’s uncommon to see an M1 in the wild, in fact, the only one I’ve ever seen was at the BMW Zentrum in Munich. This particular example for sale in London is originally a California car and one of the last ones off the production line.

Year: 1980
Model: M1
Engine: 3.5 liter inline six
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 30,000
Price: POA

1980 BMW M1

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1981 BMW M1, One of only 453 cars produced (399 Road Specification), Chassis No. 4301154

The M1 was the first car unveiled by the independent BMW Motorsport division; the M1 represented a radical departure for the famed German marque. Designed to do battle with Porsche in FIA’s Group 4 category, the mid-engine BMW supercar was developed in tandem with Lamborghini, designed by influential Italian stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro and constructed by Baur in Stuttgart. An extremely capable and well-rounded sports car, the BMW featured a Marchese-built tube-frame chassis, fiberglass construction, large vented disc brakes, a five-speed ZF transaxle and fully independent suspension as well as luxury amenities such as air-conditioning and power windows. At the heart of the state-of-the-art supercar was BMW’s magnificent M88 engine, which featured chain-driven camshafts, four valves- per-cylinder, dry-sump lubrication, steel tube headers and advanced Bosch Kugelfischer timed mechanical fuel injection. Boasting 0–60 times of 5.6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 160 mph, the car was one of the fastest production sports cars of its era. BMW Motorsport initially contracted Lamborghini to assemble the cars with engines produced and shipped from Germany. However, severe financial troubles at Lamborghini forced BMW to terminate their agreement with the Italian supercar maker. Thus, the production examples of the E26 M1 were partially assembled at Ital Design in Turin using fiberglass bodywork supplied by T.I.R and tubular space frames supplied by Marchesi. Final assembly was then conducted at the Baur coachworks in Stuttgart, Germany, then each M1 was then given a final inspection at the BMW Motorsport facility in Munich before handover to the new owners.

Our M1 is one of the last of 399 road specification examples to be built, supplied new by Hardy & Beck of Berkeley, California in April 1981. Having spent the vast majority of its years in the hands of two California collectors, this extremely rare and low mileage BMW supercar is one of the finest surviving examples to offered for sale in recent years. The previous owner from Chicago, Illinois, a known collector with a stable of exotic sports and racing cars, has always maintained a passion for M-series BMWs and was struck by this M1’s ideal appearance and well-preserved original condition. Over the years, the car has been kept in excellent order and, as recently as May 2012, was entrusted to an official BMW service agent, for a maintenance inspection and general check-over.

Commissioned to be built in white with black leather interior with checked fabric inserts; this M1 remains in excellent original condition throughout and, unlike many examples, shows no sign of modification or altercations. With the odometer displayed just over 30,000 miles, a figure that is commensurate with its outstanding presentation. Offered for sale with a tool roll, recent service records, our M1 are impressively presented and ready to be enjoyed by its next lucky owner.

One of the most exclusive post-war BMWs, the M1 maintains an important place in the marque’s history and has already begun to attract the attention of discerning collectors. Like the legendary Porsche 2.7 Carrera RS and BMW 3.0 CSL, the M1 was a limited-production homologation special that served as a showcase for the latest advances in sports car design and engineering. Considering its rarity, mechanical sophistication and historical importance, the M1 is a fascinating modern classic that should hold great appeal for collectors with an appreciation for ground breaking sports cars. A superb example in every respect, this exceptional BMW supercar would make an exciting addition to a collection of great classic cars.

Part of our final sales preparation the M1 will be fully serviced with new MOT completed by authorized BMW service centre.

They always say, if you have to ask how much it is, you can’t afford it, but it would have been nice if the seller would have disclosed the offer price for this rare BMW. At the moment, a good M1 can range in between $250,000 to around $350,000. There are a lot of other cars in that price range that could outperform it, but owning the only mid-engined BMW production vehicle as a certain cache about it. This was genesis for BMW Motorsport, a tuning arm that has created undoubtedly some of the most fearsome performance vehicles to emerge from Germany.

-Paul