First and Only BMW Supercar
By now, you’re probably all familiar with the legend of the M1. Just in case any of you aren’t, though, here’s the CliffNotes version. The BMW M1 was the first ever road car produced by BMW’s Motorsport Division. It was the brainchild of the then-head of BMW M, Jochen Neerpasch, who wanted an all-new mid-engine car to replace the aging 3.0 CSL. The production of the M1 was messy, expensive, and complicated, as the car ended up being created by several different companies. BMW M developed the engine, Marchese made the chassis, the body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign, and it was assembled by Baur in Stuttgart, Germany. Then, BMW did the final inspection. Calling its production complicated is actually an understatement.
All of that complexity made the M1’s production very expensive. So when the racing series it was developed for was cancelled, BMW was sort of screwed. It had this super expensive car and no racing series in which it could recoup its investment. So the homologated road car versions had to be extraordinarily expensive, which meant it sold quite poorly. Only around 500 were ever made for the public, which makes them incredibly rare.
Most of that is already well known. However, there are some other things about the M1 and its history that aren’t as well know, which you’ll learn from this video.
In 1979, the Neerpasch left BMW for other ventures. However, BMW should never have let him leave. At the time, Neerpasch had some radical ideas for the future of BMW and I think we can all agree it would have been amazing had he stayed. For starters, he wanted the M1 to be a continuous model, similar to the Porsche 911. A flagship performance car that BMW M could continue to improve, make more affordable, and use as a benchmark for the rest of the M Division’s products. Imagine continuous generations of mid-engine BMW M1 supercars?
Lamborghini BMW Partnership
There was also Neerpasch’s push for BMW to buy Lamborghini. See, prior to the M1’s development, BMW wanted Lamborghini to design and build the M1, while BMW M would supply the engine. Lamborghini agreed to do it but BMW had to drop their deal, due to Lambo’s impending bankruptcy. With Lamborghini on the financial ropes, BMW had considered buying the Italian supercar brand and Neerpasch was a big proponent of the idea. Obviously, BMW never did such a thing. The irony is that Lamborghini would eventually get bought by a German brand, Volkswagen, several decades later. However, can you imagine if BMW had owned Lamborghini for the past five decades?
Watch this video of the BMW M1 and just imagine the sort of world we’d be living in had the M1 succeeded, had BMW decided to continue developing it, and had BMW bought Lamborghini. That should carry you through the weekend.