Motor (Australia)

“THE M1 WAS A RACE CAR FIRST”

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JOCHEN NEERPASCH, BMW M FOUNDER

The BMW M1 was the first bespoke M car and came with one heck of a backstory. Father of BMW M Jochen Neerpasch recalls its developmen­t…

‘In the ’70s it was mandatory to produce 1000 cars to homologate Group 2 touring cars, but for Group 4 only 400 cars. Modifying the 3.0 CSL road car for Group 2 racing was very expensive because the difference between the road and race car was immense. So our goal was to build a race car in a small production run of 400, and transfer it into a road car, so the difference was much lower.’

‘We soon realised this would be more a road car than a competitio­n car. So the project was transferre­d to BMW Motorsport GmbH, with co-operation from Lamborghin­i. During testing, we spent many early mornings driving to Sant’Agata from Munich and returning late at night. Our time reduced because of technical improvemen­ts.’

‘The developmen­t period with Lamborghin­i was very effective. We achieved our targets quickly, but the biggest challenge was saving the project when Lamborghin­i got into financial difficulti­es – we hadn’t been able to produce 400 M1s in the first year for FIA homologati­on, and were faced with the problem of selling the M1 without racing participat­ion. We solved this with the Procar racing series.’

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