3 BMW M1 (1979-80)
WHY IT’S HERE To compete in Group 4/5 racing. Then the FIA changed the rules before it was ready
Practical and usable aren’t words often spoken around supercars, but that’s what BMW had created when the M1 was launched in 1979 with its crisp, fresh styling by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Not that it originally meant to. The idea was to beat the dominating 911s in Group 4, Group 5 and ultimately Le Mans. Then the FIA changed the racing classes, leaving the M1 all dressed up with no party to go to.
So BMW sent out its own invites and ran a Procar series for the M1 in a supporting role at F1 Grands Prix. It ran for two years and was won in 1979 by Niki Lauda and 1980 by Nelson Piquet. Anyone impressed by that could treat themselves to one of the 390 roadgoing versions that were built. The reality was that BMW struggled to shift them at anything like list price as they were more expensive than a Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer. And practical and usable rarely comes into that kind of buying decision.