Tony’s Take: In the late 70’s, BMW wanted a mid-engine car to kick Porsche’s *ss in the Group 5 race series. But Dr. Beemer’s order book was full! To build the required 400 cars, BMW turned to . . . Lamborghini. Surely you’ve got that backwards!

Don’t call me Shirley! I swear that’s how the BMW M1 was born. Of course the deal fell apart, as Lamborghini slouched towards bankruptcy.

Renegade Lambo engineers stole and completed the development work. BMW designed the engine. The M1 was assembled in Turin, finished in Munich, slapped with not one but two BMW roundels on the back.

Make sense, right? Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the M1 looks every inch Lamborghini. All in, BMW sold 399 road-going M1’s – and ain’t they Garand!

Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the two-door’s 3.6 L six-cylinder powerplant stumps-up 273 hp @ 6,500 rpm and develops 243 lbs.⋅ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm. Zero to sixty comes up at 5.4 seconds. The fun stops at 165 mph.

As you’d expect for a Big Hair Era mid-engined car – BMW’s first – it’s a total babe and a tidy little handler that rewards common sense (like not lifting off mid-corner).

1981 BMW M1TMU
13k on clock
Aug 18, 2022$692,500
1981 BMW M1NAJan 17, 2020$368k
1981 BMW M170k milesAug 16, 2019$390k

Today’s big money moves to other makes and models – most notably Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes. Given its large fan base, BMW will have its day in the sun. It’s easy to see a low-mile, original, perfect BMW M1 would bring $1m today, and much more after the next presidential election.

The M1 that sold for $368k two-years-ago was an all-original unrestored example, via single family ownership. The car shown here boasts a paint restoration, fresh service and a recent dealer refresh and service. It’s got 30k miles on the clock.

So a great but not perfect car. Downside: How many times can you hear “Is that really a BMW?” without saying “As if!”

Vin WBS59910004301191
HP 274 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Engine3.5L DOHC 24-valve
Total Produced399 Roadcars
54 Procars
Number of Owners3
Mileage30k miles
Condition★ ★ ★ ★
Highest Previous Price$692,500 ( Aug 18, 2022)
Auction HouseBroad Arrow Auctions
Auction Date10/19/22
My Prediction$500k – $550k
inc. fees
Hammered At$450,500

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