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BMW M1 1.jpg
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1978–1981
453 built
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro
Body and chassis
Class Sports car (S)
Body style 2-door coupé
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 3,453 cc M88/1 DOHC I6[1]
Transmission 5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,600 mm (102.4 in)[1]
Length 4,361 mm (171.7 in)[1]
Width 1,824 mm (71.8 in)[1]
Height 1,140 mm (44.9 in)[1]
Curb weight 1,300 kg (2,866 lb)
Successor BMW i8 (spiritual)

The BMW M1 (E26) was 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.[2][3] The result was sold to the public, from 1978 to 1981, as the BMW M1. It is the first mid-engined BMW to be mass-produced, the second is the BMW i8. 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).

BMW M1, BMW Museum, Munich, Germany
Pictured, from the BMW Museum's own model, is the M1's rear bonnet ornament, accompanied with the M1 label/etching.
Rear Bonnet Ornament and Iconic M1 Etching

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. Since the engineering of the car was still incomplete, a group of former Lamborghini engineers that had founded a company named Italengineering offered to complete the car's design. Less than 10 miles away from the Lamborghini shop, the engineering for the M1 was finished. Only 453 production M1s were built, making it one of BMW's rarest models.[4] 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.[5]

M88 engine

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.


Nelson Piquet with BMW M1 in 1980 at the Nürburgring

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.

2008 Homage concept[edit]

BMW M1 Homage at the 2009 Dubai International Motor Show

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 BMW Turbo show car.[6]

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 had many technical and advanced innovations from BMW.[7] The front of the car differs the most from the other parts of the car. The front sports double head lights which 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 this car. The Homage also incorporates the double badge on the back of the car like 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. BMW has confirmed that the M1 Homage will not be produced. The BMW i8, which is based on the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics concept, is influenced by the M1 Homage, entered production in 2014.

M1's successor: Vision Efficient Dynamics concept/BMW i8[edit]

BMW i8 frontal view (production model)
BMW i8 rear view (production model)

After the M1, BMW designed a couple of concept super cars but did not make one for production and sale until the i8 in 2013, which is a plug-in hybrid based on the 2009 concept car (Vision Efficient Dynamics), with a three cylinder turbodiesel engine.[8] Additionally, there are two electric motors with 139 horsepower. It allows an acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).[9] The production sports-car was designed by Benoit Jacob.[10] It was unveiled at the 2013 International Motor Show Germany,[11] followed by 2013 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.[12] It features butterfly doors, head-up display, rear-view cameras and partially false engine noise.[13] Series production of customer vehicles began in April 2014.[14] It is the first production car with laser headlights, reaching further than LED lights.[15] It is also the first mass-produced mid-engined BMW since the M1, which heavily influenced the design.


  1. ^ a b c d e Norbye, Jan P. (1984). "BMW Goes Racing: Motorsport, Engines, Adventures". BMW - Bavaria's Driving Machines. Skokie, IL USA: Publications International. pp. 186–189. ISBN 0-517-42464-9. 
  2. ^ New and Used Cars. "BMW M1 (1978-1981) CAR HISTORY". Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  3. ^ "BMW (E26) M1". Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  4. ^ Webster, Larry (June 2014). "BMW M1 Procar". Road & Track. 65 (9): 66–69. 
  5. ^ Interone Worldwide GmbH (2008-06-27). "". Retrieved 2010-10-03. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ David Gluckman (April 2008). "2008 BMW M1 Homage Concept". Automobile Magazine. Source Interlink Media, LLC. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  7. ^ "Concept Vehicles - M1 Homage Press Release - BMW North America". Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  8. ^ Sam Abuelsamid (2009-08-29). "Frankfurt Preview: BMW reveals Vision EfficientDynamics turbodiesel plug-in hybrid concept [w/VIDEO]". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  9. ^ "A vision becomes reality". BMW USA News. BMW Group. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  10. ^ "BMWBLOG". BMW BLOG. 
  11. ^ Anita Lienert (2013-08-02). "2015 BMW i8 Set for Debut at 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  12. ^ "BMW partners Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez – the yachting jewel of the Mediterranean. "Round the world in 45 days" world record holder Loïck Peyron represents BMW as ambassador at the top-class meeting of high-tech and classic aesthetics.". 
  13. ^ Ziegler, Chris. "THUNDER AND LIGHTNING: BMW i8 REVIEW" The Verge, 13 November 2014. Accessed: 17 November 2014.
  14. ^ Eric Loveday (2014-03-10). "First BMW i8 Deliveries Scheduled For June – Final Performance / Fuel Consumption Figures Released". Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  15. ^ Bernth, Martin. "Ingeniøren-journalist blev blød i knæene over ny BMW-sportsvogn" English translation Ingeniøren, 27 November 2014. Accessed: 27 November 2014.

External links[edit]