The iconic M1 didn't have a perfectly smooth start to its life.
The BMW M1 holds a special place in the heart of every BMW enthusiast, considering it was the first official M car sold to the public. Today, it's hard to keep up with the number of high-octane machines that BMW's Motorsport division pumps out, including everything from the wonderful M2 coupe to the monstrous X6 M coupe-SUV, which couldn't be further removed from the low-slung M1.
BMW Motorsport has now shared a new video delving into the origins - at least, the main bits of the story - of the legendary M1. With the Motorsport division headed up by Jochen Neerpasch, he explains how the 3.0 CSL, being a homologation special, had its weight determined by the production car. The opposite philosophy was applied to the M1, which was conceived as a racing car first.
"We now had to build a racing car in series, which would be converted to a road car," said Neerpasch. "And that was the idea behind the M1." What followed is described by Neerpasch as a "very difficult production chain" - this made sense considering that the completed chassis was made in Italy. Of course, Lamborghini initially partnered with BMW for the building of the M1, as the German marque had never before attempted a mid-engine sports car.
Lamborghini experienced severe financial troubles and BMW had to step in to take full control over the M1's construction, which caused a number of delays. Still, we're relieved that the entire project wasn't completed ditched and that the M1 dream was allowed to play out. Interestingly, Neerpasch owned an M1 himself and acknowledged that it'd be worth a lot of money today - let's just say, he'd be right.
The 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine in the M1 helped to solidify BMW's reputation for outstanding six-cylinder motors, and it was a version of this engine that found its way into the first M5, the E28, which was well-known as the fastest production sedan of its time. Even today, the M1 looks unlike any other BMW, and it wasn't until the i8 many decades later that the marque returned to a mid-engine layout - of course, that's about all that the M1 and the i8 hybrid have in common.
It's the M1's flawed origins and the saga with Lamborghini that makes it an endless source of fascination for BMW fans. That, and the fact that it's the first-ever M car, a performance car lineage which has spawned some of the world's greatest driver's cars. And while we're still waiting for BMW to conjure up a true halo supercar to compete with the likes of the Audi R8, maybe the marque feels that by the M1 never having a direct successor, the mystique surrounding this legend remains firmly intact.