Under most circumstances, we’d view modifying an M1 as something pretty heinous. BMW only made 400 road cars, and as the first official M plus one of only two mid-engined production cars the company ever made, its historical importance cannot be overstated.
However, we’ll happily give this particular M1 a free pass, primarily because of who did the modifying: BMW Motorsport. The car was originally bought by Frank Farian, the German record producer behind Boney M, and during his 10 years of ownership, he decided the car needed a little more aggression.
A fan of the bewinged, widebodied M1 Procars, Farian commissioned M Motosport to give his example the look of the racers. No figure is given for how much this cost - Silverstone Auctions merely notes it was done “at considerable expense”.
It’s passed through several owners since then, but the bodywork hasn’t been touched. It still wears the wider 17-inch BBS split rim wheels fitted all those years ago, and inside, the immaculate interior features the original Becker Mexico stereo. A Bony M Greatest Hits cassette is not included in the sale, as far as we know.
Although this particular example has a colourful backstory, it’s worth pointing out the whole M1 project is a tale of intrigue. It was born out of a desire to go racing, with Lamborghini sub-contracted to build 400 homologation specials powered by bespoke 3.0-litre V10s. Only, it didn’t quite go that way.
The 10-cylinder engine was swapped for BMW’s 3.5-litre inline-six due to cost concerns, and thanks to its shoddy financial position at the time, Lamborghini wasn’t able to honour its side of the arrangement. A slew of third parties including Ital Design and Baur had to be drafted in to get the cars out the door, with the price of each one coming in at 100,000 Deutsche Mark, about €115,000 in today’s money.
The racing plans didn’t quite pan out as BMW had intended, and although the Procar one-make series created for the M1 remains a highly regarded series in motorsport history, it was short-lived. An F1 support series pitting some of the championship’s drivers against pilots from other categories sounds dreamy, but BMW pulled the plug after just two years. In the end, concentrating on F1 itself was deemed a higher priority.
None of that stopped the M1 from attaining legendary status, with surviving examples going for hundreds of thousands of pounds on the occasions they come up for sale. When the Procar-bodied one you see here goes under Silverstone Auctions’ virtual hammer on Saturday, it’s estimated to sell somewhere between £385,000 and £435,000.