Lot 176

Amelia Island 2023

1980 BMW M1


$550,000 - $750,000 USD | Not Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Chassis No.
US Title
  • A stunning example of BMW’s seminal mid-engined supercar
  • Recipient of extensive restoration work from Canepa
  • Single-family ownership from 1980 to 2019
  • One of 399 road cars built

The M1 holds a special significance for BMW, being not only the firm’s first bona fide supercar, but also the first model to be solely developed by the M Division. The driving force behind the project was Jochen Neerpasch, then head of BMW Motorsport, who wanted to create a track-focused machine that could fly the flag for the company in top-flight competition.

In order to challenge the all-conquering Porsche 911, Neerpasch called for the new car to be mid-engined. Lacking the capacity to produce the 400 examples required to meet homologation rules, BMW approached arguably the experts in mid-engine design: Lamborghini. A tubular steel space-frame chassis was duly created by mastermind of the Miura, Gian Paolo Dallara, but with economic headwinds proving a challenge for the ailing firm, the M1 project was taken in-house in April 1978.

Despite parting company with Lamborghini, the M1 remained an international affair, with the sleek, wedge-shaped fiberglass body being designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and built by Trasformazioni Italiana Resine, and the chassis assembled by another Modena firm, Marchesi. Both were made whole at Ital Engineering, a company founded by former Sant’Agata engineers and based just 10 miles from the Lamborghini factory. The partially finished cars were then sent to Germany, where Baur installed the engine—a hand-built 3,453-cubic-centimeter double-overhead-cam, fuel-injected straight-six designed by Paul Rosche.

Some 56 BMW M1s built between 1978 and 1981 would go on to fulfil Munich’s motorsport ambitions, among them a one-model race series dubbed the BMW M1 Procar Championship. The remaining 399 examples were in road-going trim, built to homologate the model for competition.

Delivered new to the Bay Area in California, this M1 remained under the care of a single family up until 2019. Believed to have been originally painted orange, the car received a high-quality respray sometime during this period of ownership to the white exterior seen today.

Significantly, the BMW has made two separate trips to Canepa of Scotts Valley, California for service and restoration work. In 2017 work was done to the wiring harness, alternator, fuel system, suspension bushings, and brakes, while the interior received new carpets and OE cloth seat inserts. The BMW returned in 2019 for a more comprehensive overhaul which addressed all mechanical systems as needed. This included restoring the exhaust system, refinishing the wheels, fitting new tires, a comprehensive engine tune-up, resealing the engine, installing new coolant hoses, an air conditioning service, and a change of all fluids. Additionally, the exterior and interior were treated to a concours-level detail.

Only 455 M1s were produced between 1978 and 1981, a number comprising 399 road and 56 race cars. Relatively few were imported into the United States, and as such, they remain somewhat elusive on these shores—furthering the desire held for them in the hearts of BMW enthusiasts.