The BMW M1 (E26) is a sports car produced by German automaker BMW from 1978 to 1981.
In the late 1970s, Italian manufacturer Lamborghini entered into an agreement with BMW to build a production racing car in sufficient quantity for homologation, but conflicts arose that prompted BMW to produce the car themselves. The result was sold to the public, from 1978 to 1981, as the BMW M1. It is the only mid-engined BMW to be mass-produced. It employs a twin-cam M88/1 3.5 L six-cylinder petrol engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. A version of this motor was later used in the South African version of the BMW 745i, of which 209 examples were built between 1984 and 1986, as well as the E24 BMW M6/M635CSi and E28 BMW M5. The engine has six separate throttle bodies, four valves per cylinder and produces 277 PS (204 kW; 273 hp) in the street version, giving a top speed of 260 km/h (162 mph). Turbocharged racing versions are capable of producing around 850 hp (634 kW).
The M1 coupe was hand-built between 1978 and 1981 under the motorsport division of BMW as a homologation special for sports car racing. The body was designed by Giugiaro, taking inspiration from the 1972 BMW Turbo show car. Originally, BMW commissioned Lamborghini to work out the details of the car's chassis, assemble prototypes and manufacture the vehicles, but Lamborghini's financial position meant that BMW reassumed control over the project in April 1978, after seven prototypes were built. Only 453 production M1s were built, making it one of BMW's rarest models. Of the 453 produced, 20 were race versions created for the BMW M1 Procar Championship. The spirit of the M1 lived on in the M635Csi and the first-generation M5, which use a modified version of the M88/1 engine, the M88/3.
The M1 had various successes in motorsports. In 2004, Sports Car International placed the car at number ten on their list of top sports cars of the 1970s.
The M1 is not related to BMW's 1-series compact executive car which started production in the 2004 model year, nor is it related to the BMW 1 Series M Coupe which started production in the 2010 model year.
In 1979 the head of BMW Motorsport, Jochen Neerpasch, devised a one-make championship using racing modified M1s. The series was created to aid BMW in building enough M1s to enter the group 4 classification in the World Championship for Makes. The new series, known as the "Procar BMW M1 Championship", served as a support series for Formula One, and included many Formula One drivers in identical cars.
The series ran for two years, with Niki Lauda winning the 1979 season, and Nelson Piquet the 1980 season. After BMW met the standards for group 4, the Procars were used by various teams in the world championship as well as other national series.
In April 2008, BMW unveiled the M1 Homage concept, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the M1. The concept vehicle uses a mid-engine layout and borrows styling cues from both the original M1 and the Turbo show car.
The BMW Homage concept was released at the event Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d'Este 2008. The design was created by Giorgio Giugiaro who got his idea from the BMW Turbo concept which was designed by Paul Bracq. The BMW Turbo boasted many technical and advanced innovations from BMW. The front of the car differs the most than the other parts of the car. The front sports double head lights are not the pop up type that are on the original M1, but the usual trademark of the kidney grills made it onto the design of the car. The Homage also incorporates the double badge on the back of the car as the original M1. There are no photos of the interior of the car or the car in action. The specifications of the car have not been released to the public. Although BMW has not confirmed if these will be released, the upcoming i8 model, which is based on the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics concept, is influenced by the M1 Homage.
Production 1978–1981 453 built
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door coupé
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 3,453 cc M88/1 DOHC I6
Transmission 5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,600 mm (102.4 in)
Length 4,361 mm (171.7 in)
Width 1,824 mm (71.8 in)
Height 1,140 mm (44.9 in)
Curb weight 1,300 kg (2,866 lb)