1981 BMW M1
Year of manufacture1981
To be OFFERED AT AUCTION at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale event, April 1-3, 2016.
$500,000 - $600,000 US
Unquestionably the most exotic BMW street car ever built with an internal-combustion engine, the M1 was a limited-production, virtually hand-built homologation special, utilizing state-of-the-art technology. Its 24-valve, fuel-injected 3,453-cc, 277-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine facilitated top speeds of 163-mph and sub-6 second 0- to 60-mph times, thanks in part to an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
BMW Motorsports was responsible for tuning the M88 engine, but manufacturing the chassis and running gear of such a project was too formidable for the company’s production lines at the time. Therefore, the design and build of the chassis and body were entrusted to Italian concerns, helping to ensure race-worthy performance and aerodynamic flair with efficiency.
With Lamborghini contributing to early development, the chassis was designed by the well-known Gian Paolo Dallara, who was then responsible and best known for legends like the Miura and Countach. The dynamic fiberglass body, appearing at the height of the wedge styling movement, was penned by the influential Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Lamborghini’s financial problems postponed the start of production beyond the original 1977 deadline. Under a new plan, Marchese would build the car’s tube frame, TIR would mold the fiberglass, and then ItalDesign would mate the two and install the interior. The cars would then be shipped from Italy to Stuttgart, where Baur, long a builder of BMW prototypes, would install the BMW hardware. BMW Motorsports would do the final preparation in Munich—in fact, the car would carry a BMW Motorsports manufacturing plate.
The M1 was manufactured in a limited quantity of approximately just 450 total examples over three years (with just 399 cars specified for road use). It remains the only true mid-engine exotic supercar in the company’s storied history.
If there is such a thing as a globe-trotting automobile; it can be exemplified by this original BMW M1, with only 13,480 kilometers showing on the odometer. Its journey began in Germany, where it was built; it was subsequently sold new in Johannesberg, South Africa, on October 19, 1981. After being driven through South Africa, it was taken by its owner to Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and France, then to Sydney, Australia, and New Zealand. Following an extended stay in the Commonwealth, it was shipped in summer of 2012 to the United States. Various original import documents with the corresponding dates accompany the car, as does a copy of the original invoice from South Africa. It is obvious that the owner cares deeply about his machine, based on the expenditures to ensure that it travelled with him throughout its pampered life.
The M1 has been shown at numerous events over the years, and it was invited by the factory to participate in several events to honor the BMW heritage. It was part of the festivities at the Australian Grand Prix when the Formula One race was run in Adelaide. The owner’s company had published a travel book on Australia, and this M1 is shown on track with additional vintage cars taking part in exhibition.
This beautiful car has a ZF five-speed manual transmission and is equipped with the factory standards of air conditioning, power windows and power mirrors. While Becker audio with cassette was part of these standards, this particular car has a Blaupunkt system that includes an equalizer. Among the additional features on this final production year M1 are a rear window sunshade, distinctively slotted Campagnolo alloy wheels, four-wheel vented disc brakes (manufactured by ATE), Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires, front spoiler and aerodynamically efficient pop-up headlights. This very special German powerhouse comes with its original owner’s manual, tool roll, spare with jack, first aid kit, M1 luggage, European plates and a high-quality large-format M1 sales brochure. The current and only owner of this BMW M1 notes that is has “never been federalized and is original as can be.”
Furthermore, a recent inspection by an Auctions America car specialist confirms that the M1 retains its original engine, number M88-432, as well as its original decklid louvers, as stamped with the last three digits of the chassis number. On a recent test drive with the owner, the M1 performed beautifully, accelerating quickly and effortlessly with smooth and precise shifts of its five-speed gearbox.
The ambitions of the production BMW M1 was not to be a refined GT but simply the most efficient sports car of its time. Soberness and functionalism have always been notable keywords within BMW, and the stunning M1 was no exception to the rule. It is, without a doubt, the ultimate driving machine.
Please contact an Auctions America Car Specialist for complete access to the extensive documentation file for this vehicle.
1981 BMW M1