The great irony about the BMW M1 supercar is that it was a huge failure.
A re-purposed version of the same design often trotted out by Giugiaro through the mid-1970s, the original Paul Bracq-penned 1972 BMW Turbo concept was very, very dated by its production intro in 1978. (1972 Turbo on the right)
The ultra-wedge aesthetic was popular, of course, but was hard to make workable in a sports car. Visibilty was atrocious, making racing especially challenging.
In addition, the wedges of the 1973-forward Lamborghini Countach or Lancia Stratos were hard to top. This M1 seemed like a pretender from before day one among the cognoscenti.
Secondly, it was hugely delayed. To be built by Lamborghini for BMW, the project was behind schedule when Lamborghini ultimately refused the project mid-way through. The remaining tools and part-completed cars were finished in Germany and fitted with their final engines.
A straight-six of any power was not impressive to many exotic buyers, who were not accustomed to considering a BMW purchase already, and frowned on its relaxed pace and lack of headline sprint pace or top speed prowess.
The price was steep and the M1 found fewer buyers every year. The remaining road cars were converted to run in a one-make series after the original design no longer met any of the big racing series’ rules.
But a mid-engine BMW! Wow! A mark that the brand was moving on from its lean times and embracing its sports-car destiny.
Still quite stunning today, with Bracq’s shark nose re-appearing on the 8-series and many others over the years. It could have been even more drastic on the aero front — Paul Bracq also designed the French TGV high-speed train!
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.