1981 BMW M1

History

The M1 was a radical departure from the front-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration of its prior vehicles. It also had to compete with the legacy of the vehicle it was replacing, the highly successful 3.0 CSL. The M1, also known as the 'Mid-Engined BMW M1 Project E26, was started in 1976 and completed four years later. The development of the M1 supercar was very costly; its design and development included some of the greatest individuals the industry had to offer. Giorgio Giugiaro of Ital Design was tasked with creating the design while Lamborghini handled the construction and manufacturing.

Racing efforts were slowed when the car failed to meet homologation requirements for Group 4 and 5, which stated 400 vehicles needed to be produced in 24 months. So the BMW M1 began racing in the Procar series instead. David Cowart and Kenper Miller won the IMSA GTO category in 1981. When BMW had sold enough cars to comply with Group 5 homologation requirements, the vehicle was no longer competitive for that group. Production of the BMW M1 ceased in 1981 after 455 examples were created, with 56 created for racing.

In 1979, 79 examples were created with 38 being race-prepared, and the remaining 41 intended for road-use. In 1980 and 1981, 188 vehicles were constructed per year. 18 were constructed for racing while the remaining were made road-worthy.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2006
As racing regulations evolved in the mid seventies, BMW Motorsport saw an opportunity to beat arch-rival Porsche in a new series by designing and manufacturing a purpose-built car and offering it for sale to the public, as a stipulated by the rules. The BMW M1, designed by Giugiaro and powered by a Paul Rosche designed 3.5-liter, twin-cam six-cylinder engine mounted mid-ship, debuted at the 1978 Paris Auto Show to the admiration of the world's motoring press. The only problem was that delays with outside contractors cause its appearance to coincide with the demise of the category for which it was built. The quick thinking solution was the fast and furious ProCar Series which preceded European Formula One racers, pitting the top-five qualifying Grand Prix stars against 15 talented local drivers in identically prepared M1's. The ProCar Series ran in 1979 and 1980 with championships by Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet respectively.

Road going M1's like the one shown, were sold in Europe and imported to the United States through the secondary market. These cars are now prized collector items. Racing ProCar versions of the M1 can be seen on vintage race tracks around the world.


1981 Vehicle Profiles

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

Chassis Num: WBS59910004301336

The BMW M1, internally dubbed the E26, was a cooperative effort with several top Italian specialists. Lamborghini was initially contracted to build the car but Giorgetto Giugiaro's Ital Design ultimately took over the project. It had a fiberglass bod....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

Chassis Num: WBS599100004301429

This 1981 BMW M1 Coupe was offered for sale at the 2006 Bonhams & Butterfields auction held at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California where it was estimated to sell between $90,000 - $110,000. It is a left-hand drive M1 who's first owner was a USA re....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

As racing regulations evolved in the mid-1970s, BMW Motorsport saw an opportunity to beat arch-rival, Porsche, in a new racing series by designing and manufacturing a purpose-built racing car and offering it for sale to the public as stipulated by th....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

Chassis Num: WBS59910004301154

The BMW M1 was the first car unveiled by the independent BMW Motorsport division. It was designed to battle with Porsche in the FIA's Group 4 category. The mid-engine BMW supercar was developed in tandem with Lamborghini, and designed by Giorgetto Gi....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

BMW introduced the M1 in 1979. It replaced the highly successful and much revered 3.0 CSL. The M1 was a radical departure for BMW, whose success had always been with front engine, rear wheel drive platforms. Officially dubbed the 'Mid-Engined BMW M P....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

Chassis Num: WBS59910004301348
Engine Num: M88-389

The BMW M1 was essentially a road-going Procar and Group 5 racer, built to homologate the cars for the track. The M1 remains the most exotic street car that BMW ever built. They were basically hand-built in limited numbers, and given a tubular frame,....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

The BMW M1 is the only mid-engined supercar born of Italian design and German sensibility and was produced from 1978 to 1980. In 1981, Car and Driver proclaimed the M1 was probably the best fast car ever built - a supercar producing 275 horsepower, t....[continue reading]

1981 BMW M1 vehicle information

Coupe
Designer: Giorgetto Giugiaro

Chassis Num: WBS59910004301282

BMW's first mid-engined Supercar, the M88 twin-cam 6 cylinder motor develops 273 hp. This M1 is number 282 of 453 built with 20 of the BMW M1 Procars for racing. Purchased in 2008 in Florida, the previous owners included a Seattle island resident, an....[continue reading]

Coupe
Chassis #: WBS59910004301336 
Coupe
Chassis #: WBS599100004301429 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: WBS59910004301154 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: WBS59910004301348 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: WBS59910004301282 


Concepts by BMW

BMW Monthly Sales Volume

December 2019
35,746
November 2019
31,213
October 2019
25,440
September 2019
27,467
July 2019
23,015
June 2019
31,627
May 2019
27,109
April 2019
23,816
March 2019
32,228
February 2019
23,558
January 2019
18,102
Additional Sales Volume Data


Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3BMW
1986Chevrolet (1,368,837)Renault (1,305,191)Ford (1,253,525)96,759
1985Chevrolet (1,418,098)Renault (1,322,887)Oldsmobile (1,192,549)87,832
1984Chevrolet (1,655,151)Renault (1,429,138)Ford (1,180,708)87,832
1983Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,175,200)Toyota (1,068,321)407,507
1982Renault (1,491,853)Chevrolet (1,297,357)Toyota (1,068,321)63,618
1981Chevrolet (1,673,093)Renault (1,295,713)Toyota (1,068,321)337,757
1980Chevrolet (2,288,745)Renault (1,492,339)Ford (1,162,275)330,087
1979Chevrolet (2,284,749)Ford (1,835,937)Renault (1,405,330)328,281
1978Chevrolet (2,375,436)Ford (1,923,655)Renault (1,240,941)320,853
1977Chevrolet (2,543,153)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,840,427)290,236
1976Chevrolet (2,103,862)Toyota (1,884,260)Ford (1,861,537)275,022

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