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1981 BMW M1

Update 1/31/2019: The seller has relisted this M1 now at $695,000 – nearly $200,000 down from last Spring, but probably still ahead of the market.

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:


Year: 1981
Model: M1
Engine: 3.5 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 8,000 mi
Price: $695,000 Buy It Now


Pre-Purchase inspections welcome, we describe these vehicles to the best of our ability. There are NO returns on vehicles purchased.


This is one of the Rarest BMWs produced in the World. Only 453 units produced and 20 of them being racecars! This specific M1 has not been offered for sale for over 30 years! It has 8,000 original Miles (12,182KM) and still sports the original paint, motor, trans, and all body components. It has not been restored, only maintained throughout its life. It has been stored indoors and recently received a quartz polish. Originally purchased in Mexico by the existing owner, then legally brought into La Jolla, CA. to spend the remainder of its life, it was not until recently that it was brought to Florida.


The interior is in great shape. The Carpet is very nice along with the gauge cluster. The headliner shows very well. It has not been modified in any way, it still sports a working OE Radio! All the leather and door cards are in excellent condition. All of the electronics work as they should. This is truly an 8,000 miles specimen. As you look through the gallery please note the originality of this M1. It is not restored in any way.


The Alpine white exterior is in excellent shape for its age. YES! it is original paint. All the trim and aluminum is original, and does show minor wear, it can easily be repaired but we did not want to modify the originality in any way. It is a true time capsule. It does have dealer optioned BBS wheels. We will gladly work with the buyer to source the OE wheels. All of the lights work as they should, and all the body lines are excellent. The deck lid and front bonnet are original to the car.


Powered by a hand assembled 3.5l straight 6 she produces 274hp and 243tq. The motor runs very well and does not show any signs of fatigue, please take a moment to watch our video and you will see it go through the gears with no issues. The clutch feels great, as do the brakes. Transmission does not pop out of gear and there are no strange noises. The ITB’s sound unreal behind your head! This is a investment you can actually drive to the store (which I would advise against) It does have a numbers matching motor, transmission, and chassis.

Key Facts:

Original Paint
Originally purchased in Mexico then legally imported into CA
Service records
Original M1 repair book, manual, tool kit, luggage, spare, and info binder from BMW.
8000 original Miles.
453 produced
Has not been listed for sale for 30 years

All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, and any emission testing charges. The price for listed vehicles as equipped does not include charges such as: License, Title, Registration Fees, State and Local Taxes, Smog Fees, and Physical Damage of Liability Insurance. Dealer makes no representations, expressed or implied, to any actual or prospective purchaser or owner of this vehicle to the existence, ownership, accuracy, description or condition of the listed vehicles equipment, accessories, price, specials or any warranties. Any and all differences must be addressed prior to the sale of this vehicle. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

There is a $250 dealer fee that is not included in the original price.

Please note: the vin was not accepted by ebay, the correct vin is 59910001301451

The M1 is all the more impressive when you consider that while the car hit the market in 1978 and seemed pretty futuristic for the time, the reality was Giugario’s work was really heavily based upon Frenchman Paul Bracq’s Turbo Concept from 1972 – nearly a full decade before this particular end-of-the-run example was made. Claimed to be all original, this 1981 appears just about spotless, and sports what appear to be an original set of period-correct BBS E50 3-piece magnesium wheels in place of the correct Campagnolo units. Of course, the seller suggests that at the nearly million dollar asking price they’re willing to find a set of originals. Even though they can range up to $5,000 or more, the reality is that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the asking price here.

Speaking of, where does that asking price lie in the market? How about $200,000 more than the asking price of the last M1 I looked at? And that M1 was about $200,000 over the high estimate listed by notoriously high-valued Hagerty (and, is still for sale for a few dollars less than last fall). White is also the most common color of M1 produced, though admittedly the condition is great and the mileage is quite low. In short, I wouldn’t expect this one will be trading hands soon, but of course your pool of candidates in the M1 world is unbelievably shallow.



  1. Ed
    Ed May 9, 2018

    In 1981 I saw one in the showroom of Braman BMW in Miami. They were asking $115K for a federalized version. I fell instantly in love. Then on 2 different trips to Europe (1983 and 1990) I actually saw a couple on the road. That just fueled my lust for the M1. Sadly their price has exploded in the last decade so it’s so far out of reach now that it’ll just remain a pipe dream.

  2. MR K
    MR K May 9, 2018

    +1 on the price explosion in the past decade. I was in Ft. Lauderdale in 2009 and stopped at a dealer that had two of them for sale. One was bone stock and the other had a hideous body kit and blue paint. IIRC, their ask was in the $200s for either one…..

  3. Davey
    Davey May 10, 2018

    Saw a red example of the M1 quite a few years ago here in the UK, although I didn’t realise at the time how rare they actually are – more likely to find Dinosaur dung – it left a lasting impression, now to see if I can find that $850,000 down the back of the couch.

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