BMW, a brand that prides itself on building the ultimate driving machine, doesn’t have a genuine supercar in its lineup. But this was not always the case because back in 1978 BMW launched its very own supercar. It was the mid-engined M1 homologation special, a car that made its debut 30 years ago at the 64th Paris Motor Show and went on to sell in several different variants until it was discontinued just three years later.

The M1 was developed by BMW Motorsport with the help of Lamborghini and only 456 cars ever saw the light of day. Its body was based on a 1972 BMW concept car but was penned by Italian design house Giugiaro Italdesign.

At the time of its launch, the M1 was one of the fastest and most dynamic cars on the market. It featured a 277hp (204kW) 3.5L straight-six engine and could reach speeds in excess of 160mph (260km/h). The smooth six-cylinder revved freely to a 7,000rpm cut-off and was capable of accelerating the car from 0-62mph (100km/h) in 5.6 seconds. Driving the rear wheels was a ZF manual with five gears.

New technologies employed by the M1 included a spaceframe chassis and lightweight plastic body wrapped around a double wishbone suspension set-up with light-alloy wheel mounts in the front and an independent trapezoidal set-up in the rear. Bilstein dampers were also used with fully adjustable coil springs.

Though the car never saw a great deal of racing success, the M1 remains BMW’s only mid-engined supercar and is remembered for its impeccable handling and build quality – traits that were hard to find in the supercars of that era.


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