The 1978 Paris Motor Show saw BMW introduce an unexpected car. They stepped into a genre completely new and unlike BMW - supercars. The M1 was the first mid-engined car from the Bavarian stable and it had a straight-six engine. Eyebrows were raised and curious people wondered what made them take such a radical step. Radical? BMW?? It did not fit. The Porsche 911 was dominating anything and everything that came its way that ended in a chequered flag. Was this the reason for BMW to introduce the M1? Thirty years on, people seldom remember the M1 but the M3 and M5 are not that hard to recall. Then the penny drops and they realize how the â€˜Mâ€™ badge became associated with BMWâ€™s arm of performance machines. The design, engineering, and production of the M1 was assigned to Lamborghini. Can you imagine the plight of the Lambo designers trying hard to incorporate the kidney grille in a mid-engined sports car? Creative license, anyone? Jokes apart, the production of the M1 ceased in 1981, but was always remembered for its excellent drivability and it was often called a civilised supercar.
Fast forward thirty years and we are now seeing a born-again M1. This one is even more radical than the original. The 2008 M1, the Hommage, is absolutely stunning. Itâ€™s a just a design right now, not a running prototype, but what a design it is! It is sculpted from all sides to give the presence of a supercar but still manages to retain the M1 lineage with a subtle sense of civil BMW about it. The rims are over the top just like the rest of the car. The front intakes are trapezoidal and the four headlights peep out from under the extended sweeping hood. The rear is nothing more than a flowing extension of the top which meets the rear bumpers and where they meet the space in between emerge the tail lights above which is the gill-like engine cover. The exhausts seem to have carved a space for themselves on either corner. The front is dominated by a smaller version of the kidney grille. Now I am convinced it is a BMW.
There were talks of resurrecting the M1 on its 25th anniversary but it did not materialize. Now we have the design in place that is garnering enough attention for it to move into production in 2010. Better late than never since such a special design warrants a special engine.
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