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Robb Design Portfolio: Eminent M

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1980 BMW M1

The M1, the first production car from BMW Motorsport, was clad in Italian bodywork, by Giugiaro, and was supposed to have been built in Italy, by Lamborghini. But Lamborghini’s financial misfortunes in the late 1970s prompted BMW to terminate the partnership and bring manufacture back to Germany, where convertible coachbuilder Baur produced about 450 M1s from 1978 to 1981. A 3.5-liter inline-6 engine mounted aft of the two-seat cockpit powered the svelte fiberglass coupe. The M1 reached its homologation quota too late to race competitively in FIA’s Group 5 (Special Production Cars) category, its original raison d’être. However, the model did spawn the short-lived BMW M1 Procar Championship (1979–80), in which drivers from Formula 1, the World Sportscar Championship, and other international series raced against each other in identically modified M1s. Today the first M car is finally being coveted by collectors beyond those faithful connoisseurs who have always recognized the M1 as a brilliant star of the BMW firmament.

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