Readers of the German magazine Motor Klassik have given the iconic BMW M1 mid-engine sports car a present to celebrate its 40th anniversary. For the third year in a row, the BMW M1 has received the Motor Klassik Award as the readers’ favorite classic car from the 1970s.
BMW didn’t make many of the iconic coupes; a total of 453 M1s were built for the track and the street. Given the problems with initial contractor Lamborghini, it’s a wonder any were built at all. Designed for BMW by Giorgio Giugiaro as a race car, most M1s were built for sale in order to homologate the car for racing.
The M1 first appeared in 1978, and although its value as a used car dropped significantly in the intervening years, M1s in excellent condition today can command prices well above $500,000.
Ulrich Knieps, head of BMW Group Classic, received the award in March on behalf of BMW. “The BMW M1 is and will remain a milestone in the history of our company,” said Knieps. “Forty years ago, it was a sensational exotic; today it is a coveted collector’s item. Appreciation for this extraordinary automobile has increased more and more in recent years. We feel this particularly clearly when owners of a BMW M1 turn to us because they know that their vehicle is in the best hands in the workshop of BMW Group Classic.”
The M1 has the distinction of being the first M car. While it was not a financial success, the heart of the M1—the M88/1 engine—was developed into the M88/3 that powered the first-generation M5 and the M635CSi. In the M1, the M88/1 engine produced 272 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque.
While the M1 has since been surpassed by newer BMWs with more power and better performance, few, if any, have matched the M1’s looks and charisma. The regular vintage-car awards it receives bears that out.—Scott Blazey
[Photos courtesy of BMW AG.]