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In the early ‘70s, BMW got down to building a sports car chiefly for racing homologation. They chose Lamborghini as a companion in this venture. Then, no one knew that BMW would have to start the production on their own as long as their partner would confront serious financial difficulties.
Nevertheless, the BMW M1 (it’s how the new car was called) took over so many Italian features that one would never say it’s a BMW in front of their eyes. After all, there’s nothing surprising about it – the car was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The first BMW M1 model was made in 1978. The production was ceased in 1981.
The BMW M1 has remained one of the most outstanding sports cars by the manufacturer up to the present. One of the most outstanding, one of the rarest (just 453 units were constructed), and one of the most expensive among those they can offer (one of them was knocked down for record-breaking $440,000 in 2014).
The M1 model wasn’t a typical BMW. It rather resembled a Ferrari or Lamborghini. The only element that connected us to the reality was the so-called kidney grille at the front, the automaker’s distinguishing feature (and, of course, the widely known BMW’s white-and-blue badges front and back).
The BMW M1 was 171.7 in long, 71.8 in wide, and 44.9 in high weighing 2,866 lb (curb weight); its wheelbase was 102.4 in. It was the car of low stance and sharp lines, which made it look somewhat aggressive. The car’s flat nose hid the headlights that contributed to its sleek appearance and aerodynamic and fuel-efficient qualities. At the back, the BMW M1 utilized large taillights that weren’t popular among supercars’ manufacturers. The sports car wore proudly three BMW badges: one in the centre at the front and two others on each side of the rear fascia.
The BMW M1’s interior was two-tone featuring leather and fabric elements combined. Although you won’t find anything spectacular about it today, knowing how some vehicles can look like and with what incredible features they can be equipped with, it was luxurious back then.
Between the driver and passenger’s seats, there was a large centre console that housed gear and handbrake levers and different controls. Besides, it could serve as a storage compartment. Apart from essential gauges, the car’s dashboard contained an air conditioner, cassette deck, and radio. There was even an automatic climate control in the BMW M1.
The BMW M1 couldn’t be called spacious inside. Some passengers could feel cramped in terms of leg- and headroom here but not unsafe as the car’s frame was made of steel while its body was plastic. The car’s suspension absorbed pot-holes well despite its firm springs. Passengers could place their luggage (little luggage) into the compartment under the boot lid.
The BMW M1 didn’t just look innovative but it was also propelled by a cutting-edge powertrain. This car is the first and the only mid-engined BMW model that entered mass production. It was powered by a 3.5-litre inline 6-cylinder engine with 4 valves per cylinder and with the Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection system. It generated 273 hp and 243 lb/ft of torque and was teamed up with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The BMW M1 was a rear-wheel-drive sports car.
The BMW M1 performed impressively at the time. Its engine could accelerate the car to 164 mph at most while the 60 mph mark was reached in 6.5 seconds that was a lightning speed by the way. However, it didn’t put the M1 in the same line with the fastest cars of the epoch. Nevertheless, the BMW M1 was considered to be one of the best due to its incomparable handling and overall driving performance.
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