Thursday, August 11, 2011
The BMW M1 was one of those projects that had everything going against it. The M1 started as a project to create a competitive participant in the FIA Group 4 racing class but just as the car was near completion, a change in regulation required a new number of homologated versions of the race car to be produced first. That's bad news. And what's worse is that BMW was already struggling against torrential headwinds when the M1's chassis developer, Lamborghini, was facing the risk of bankruptcy and could not meet their end of the contract. In the end, 456 production models were built but it was not enough for the M1 to participate in the Group 4 races. You can never blame BMW for not trying though.
The story could have ended here and the M1 could have been bubble wrapped and forgotten. But BMW created an M1 one-make racing series instead and called it the ProCar, running it as a support race during the Formula 1's events in Europe. Even more importantly, BMW seized the opportunity to utilize their gem of an engine, stuffing the M1's fuel injected twin cam 3.5 liter 6 cylinder engine into the first ever BMW M5 as well as the BMW M635CSi-- and that is the genesis of BMW Motorsport GmbH.
Many of you have heard this story before, but I think it's worth retelling. How rare is it for a car to come that close to failing only to turn it all around and create one of the most important badges of all time?
The M1 was almost dead. Long live the M1.