One-of-399 BMW M1 Procar

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BMW M1 Procar

The BMW M1 Procar is the most exotic vehicle the brand has ever built.

The M1 is a rare and exotic BMW with only 456 M1s built in total. The story behind this beautiful mid-engine machine is an interesting one. It was 1976 and BMW was planning to go racing in Group 5 for the World Sportscar Championship.

BMW M1 Procar

The motorsports division boss made a deal with Lamborghini to design and build the M1. In 1977, Lamborghini was in unhealthy financial shape, and would not be able to complete the build process. BMW’s M division took the project back over and had the M1 ready for its debut in 1978.

Unfortunately, an update to Group 5 rules now had a requirement of a homologation in Group 4 before you could race in Group 5.  The series requirement was 400 road cars be built in order to compete.

The M division boss made the decision to organize a one-model racing series while the 400 homologation cars were built. The series was known as the BMW M1 Procar Championship. BMW made a deal with Formula One to run the series in conjunction with all the European races. The series debuted in 1979, and the 10-car field had some of the world’s best drivers.

Different Formula One drivers were given spots on the factory BMW team over the season using their performance in Formula One practice as a mini competition. These included Mario Andretti, Patrick Depailler, Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Alan Jones, Jacques Laffite, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Didier Pironi, Clay Regazzoni, and John Watson. Teo Fabi, Tiff Needell, Hans-Georg Bürger and Michael Bleekemolen were brought in to drive in the factory BMW cars as well, although they were not Formula One drivers at the time.

 

ALSO SEE: Here’s How a Racing Series Made BMW Build the M3

 

In the end, the BMW M1’s life was short, as the Group 5 series was discontinued in 1982. Although the M1 Procar was never street-legal, a few M1 road cars have been converted to the Procar bodywork. This M1 with Procar bodywork sold at auction recently, and we can only imagine it’s making its new owner rather happy. Perhaps we’ll get to see this galloping at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in 2018?

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