German Car Day Preview: 1980 BMW M1

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If you’re looking for a fun summer time German car show, you’re unlikely to find something as eclectic as Larz Anderson’s German Car Day in Brookline, Massachusetts. Every year the Larz Anderson Auto Museum hosts over two dozen lawn events, and the one devoted to German cars is one of its top three best attended shows. If you’re going to be in the Boston area on the weekend of June 15th and 16th (aka this weekend), go ahead and stop by on Sunday morning and early afternoon. It’s one of the few car shows in the country that can boast a BMW M1 as a regular entrant.

This particular M1 hails from 1980 and is owned by Neal Heffron, who also took a BMW Batmobile to Greenwich Concours just a couple weeks ago. This M1 has some celebrity ownership in its past, as it was purchased by Christopher Cross after his album managed to receive a total of 5 Grammy awards in 1979. The current owner stated that he doesn’t take this car to the track, just because of the expense of servicing it and preparing it for the track. That, and also the possibility that something expensive might break. And that’s perfectly understandable, as the M1 is not exactly as easily serviceable as a contemporary Ferrari. Also, if something were to go wrong, everyone would be saddened and sympathetic to the owner, something that is not guaranteed to happen if a Ferrari suffered a mechanical failure or some body damage on a track.

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When you think 1970s supercar, the BMW M1 probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Despite M1 posters hanging on the walls of everyone and their dog in the 1980s, the M1 didn’t quite make the impact that we all hoped it would, and despite its various successes in racing it didn’t compete head to head with the supercars coming out of Italy on the showroom floor. But the M1 is also happens to be more valuable than most Ferraris of the same era. For one thing, one cannot find an abused M1 with scorched paint in a Fort Lauderdale-area used car gazette.

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Despite the car’s rather generous size, the mid-engine configuration does take up quite a lot of room. The luggage sace up front also cannot be decribed as generous. But then again, this car (theoretically) competed with Italy’s best, which also weren’t known for having many creature comforts. The M1 is not a small car, yet it is distinctly well suited for its exterior dimensions. In other words, it is exactly the same size in real life as it is in photographs, something that has always eluded a certain manufacturer from Maranello. All the details seem perfectly proportioned, and there isn’t really a hint of any kind of discomfort about it.

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It was hoped at the time that then M1 would lead to an entire segment that BMW could occupy, but at the end of the day Mercedes-Benz managed to get away with churning out the same old R107 SL-klasse roadster for nearly 20 years. And made pretty good money not updating the car or seeking to market an even more exclusive automobile. So despite BMW’s hopes, there really was not a business case in existance at the time for a wider manufacture of the M1. It was too big and too complex to compete with anything Porsche was making at the time, and not quite fast enough to draw buyers away from the Italian makes. A German supercar would not appear until quite a few years later, with the Audi R8, and quite a few people noted the similarities in the packaging of the M1 and the Audi R8. So it wasn’t the Bavarian company that eventually pulled off the trick of a German supercar that could take on the Italians, but one that at the time was busy making much humbler cars.

This year’s German Car Day will take place on  Sunday, June 16th, at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum located in Brookline, Massachusetts, which is just a few minutes southwest of Boston. Or in Boston really, depending on what your consider to be outside of Boston.

Browse the full gallery from last year below:

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]



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8 responses to “German Car Day Preview: 1980 BMW M1”

  1. Arco777 Avatar

    I love the styling of the M1. Almost as much as I love the Pantera.

  2. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    for some reason the M1 never really did it for me. i'd probably rather drive around in an M1 just for the exclusivity factor, but to compare just on their own merits the 308/328 pulls off the mid-engine wedge styling much more successfully, eye em aitch oh.

  3. TheImpalaKid Avatar

    Absolutely my favorite exotic car! There's just something about the dimensions and so forth that I really like. Thanks for sharing pics.

  4. Alcology Avatar

    See you there!

  5. Rover1 Avatar

    When these came out I remember being disappointed that they didn't look more like the Paul Frere BMW Turbo
    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

  6. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    I first saw an M1 in the flesh at the BMW museum in Munich last year. They had a couple, a "normal" one in the same dark orange as this, as well as a racing one done up in M-power colours. There is something beautifully restrained about the design, as much as an orange mid-engined supercar can be, and I love the wheels.

  7. RustyCSX Avatar

    I have seen this particular car up close at a Larz Anderson lawn show a few years ago. It is in impeccable condition. It has to be one of the coolest cars I have seen with my own two eyes. The owner brought it out on the Tutto Italiano day, and I found myself drooling more over this car than many of the other exotics that showed up.
    Christopher Cross's music may have been questionable, but his taste in cars isn't!

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