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BMW M1 discovered after being forgotten in Italian garage for 34 years

The BMW M1 that was recently found in an Italian garage was only driven 4,593 miles before being parked and left untouched for 34 years.

It was found by Mint Classics, a German classic car dealership that plans to restore the car and then sell it.  They feel it won’t take much work on the exterior as this is in very good condition.

There is a thick layer of dust and possibly some scratches from all the bits and pieces that were stored on top of it over the years.  But it’s all the moving parts that will be the problem as some of these, such as belts and hoses, would have deteriorated over the years, and other parts could well have seized due to the time the machine remained unused.

The car itself was meant to be a model that not only won races but would be a production silhouette car.  Made by BMW in the 1975s through the 1980s, it was an important car for the company.  Before the M1 could make it out into the public arena, the market swung away from Silhouette cars and back towards purebred prototype sports cars instead.  The auto had become obsolete by 1980.

BMW M1, BMW Museum, Munich, Germany – By Biser Todorov – CC BY-SA 3.0
BMW M1, BMW Museum, Munich, Germany – By Biser Todorov – CC BY-SA 3.0


The M1 did see the racetrack in 1979, but it was not a success.  It was prone to engine failures, although sometimes it did show some brilliance.  Everyone at BMW knew the car was a failure as a race vehicle for two main reasons – it cost too much to develop, and it wasn’t able to be altered to keep up with racing regulation changes.  In February 1981, the car was no longer being made, with only 453 cars ever having been finished.

Of these, only about 54 were competition race cars; 399 were road-going street cars, and there was only one left-hand-drive street car made.  Due to regulations concerning the manufacture of race cars, BMW had to make 400 that were road going street cars.  There are many conflicting records of production numbers, but the above numbers are the official numbers from BMW.

The cars had fiberglass bodywork and tubular spaceframes.  The engine was an M88 engine that had unique components such as a four-valve cylinder head and Magnet-Marelli electronic ignition.  When tuned for street use the engine produced 277 hp (DIN) at 6,500 rpm.  The racing version produced a much higher hp of 470 in the Group 4 versions.  It has a five-speed manual gearbox.

BMW M1 1 – By Softeis, 3/10/2004 – CC BY-SA 3.0
BMW M1 1 – By Softeis, 3/10/2004 – CC BY-SA 3.0

The suspension is a double wishbone style for both front and rear, and there are anti-roll bars at the front and back of the vehicle.  The interior of the BMW is pretty much unique with seats that are specific to the model.  The dashboard is covered in leather, and the inner parts of the seats are black textured cloth.

The steering wheel is a three-spoked type similar to the one on the E12 M535i.  All the street cars had electric windows and mirrors, as well as air conditioning.  They came in a range of colors, with black, gray, and silver being the rarest colors, Fox News reported.

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Only a couple of years ago, a BMW M1 owner wanted about half a million dollars for one with only 8,000 miles on the odometer.  It will be interesting to see how this one does when it’s cleaned up and offered for sale.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News