Rare Rides: The 1979 BMW M1 – BMW Wants to Race, but Wait a Minute (Part II)

Image: 1979 BMW M1In our last Rare Ride entry we covered the difficult conception and birth of the BMW M1 at the hands of a financially faltering Lamborghini. In Part II, we talk about the second issue BMW faced, which would ultimately alter (and shorten) the M1’s life.

Image: 1979 BMW M1BMW wanted the M1 to participate in the Group 5 class of the World Sportscar Championship in 1979. The delays in the M1’s development, which we covered in Part I, meant the model was behind schedule in all ways.

In 1977, while the M1 was under development, the rules were changed for Group 5 entries. The new rules stated 400 examples of the vehicle needed to exist to meet Group 4 requirements, and then even more homologation requirements were layered on top of the production quota in order to qualify for Group 5.

James May did a quick summary of the M1 on Top Gear way back when, and you can watch the clip here with badly synched audio.

Image: 1979 BMW M1After all the struggle, it just wasn’t going to happen for the M1 the way BMW intended. So, upon learning of the new competition regulations, BMW’s Motorsport division changed tack. It created a single-model race series and called it the BMW M1 Procar Championship. Here, Formula One drivers competed against one another in identically modified M1 racing cars. The series ran for 1979 and 1980 before it was retired.

The M1 was retired around the same time. BMW finished the rest of the consumer models in 1981, and in total produced 453 M1s. Twenty of those were racing Procar versions. The example you’ve been eyeing as you read today is neither a regular consumer version, nor a Procar. It’s a hybrid Frankenstein.

Image: 1979 BMW M1A telephone call was made, an order sheet filled out. The customer: a Sheik from the nation of Qatar. The M1 came right out of the BMW factory in 1979, and headed straight for a custom garage in Hamburg, Germany. There, SGS Garage would set out to modify the standard consumer M1 into a procar-cum-luxury sports tourer.

Image: 1979 BMW M1

The body was heavily modified, and a new paint scheme was applied featuring the BMW Racing livery.

Image: 1979 BMW M1The interior saw a luxury rework, plus a generous application of wood.

Image: 1979 BMW M1Lace alloys are here, and they’re deep-dish, color-keyed and doing their thing (which is winning).

Image: 1979 BMW M1A discrepancy arrives at this point in the story. Though the base car is from 1979, and the listing indicates the car was modified by SGS in 1980, the metal ID plate on the body carries a production date of January 1984. It would seem either the M1 sat around (perhaps unwanted in a showroom) for a while before being modified, or SGS took a very long few years to finish its modifications. I’m betting on the former.

Image: 1979 BMW M1It’s for sale now via Premier Auction Group at an undisclosed price. Given the standard version from Part I was asking over $650,000, bet on shelling out some hundreds of thousands more to own this more special, unique example.

[Images via seller]