BE STILL my beating heart and prep my other less essential internal organs for sale to the highest bidder, because a rare original BMW M1 is about to go under the hammer at Sotheby's.
The M1 was the Munich marque's original 'race on Sunday sell on Monday' M car and, to my mind, still the best looking M machine of them all. As a schoolboy, I was the proud owner of a pencil case adorned with pictures of the racing M1and I spent a decent amount of time daydreaming doing about fast laps instead of concentrating on inconsequential matters like maths and geography.
Launched in 1978 (just like myself) and only produced until 1981, just 56 of these track-spec BMW M1s were built. They proved to be potent force on the racetrack, and even spawned their own race series, the BMW M1 Procar Championship. Another 399 examples were made in road-going trim, built to homologate the model for competition – the birth of the street-legal M series which endures to this day.
The car’s sleek, wedge-shaped fibreglass body was designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro and built by Trasformazioni Italiana Resine in Modena, Italy, with the car's chassis assembled by another Modena firm, Marchesi. Ital Engineering put the two together before the partially finished cars were sent to Baur in Germany for the installation of a hand-built 3,453cc double-overhead cam, fuel-injected straight-six engine designed by Paul Rosche.
Yes, the M1 was undoubtedly one of the ultimate 1970s supercars, a proper Top Trumps dominating, poster on your bedroom wall dream machine. And, if you're now a very wealthy not quite grown-up yet schoolboy who fancies trading that tattered poster (or, perhaps, pencil case) for a real road going M1, why not opt for the very one which used to be the pride and joy of the man who helped birth these cars in the first place?
Due on Southeby's auction block at Munich Motorworld on November 26 as part of the frankly mind-blowing BMW-centric Bavarian Legends collection, 'Chassis 4301218' must be one of the most significant road-going BMW M1s ever made due to the fact that its first owner owner was none other than Jochen Neerpasch, the head of BMW Motorsport and the M1 project's greatest exponent.
As the first model developed solely by BMW's M Division. Neerpasch was the driving force behind the project: he wanted to create a track-focussed machine that could fly the flag for BMW in top-flight competition. Of course, he very much succeeded.
Bought by the motorsport chief as a parting gift to himself after leaving BMW in 1980, Chassis 4301218 is uniquely specified with a period-tastic brown half-leather interior and grey exterior – one of only four examples ever painted in that colour.
The car was signed off in Italy on February 21 1980, and by March 31 it had been completed by Baur. It was first registered in Neerpasch's name on July 27 1980 and was used as his private car until he took up a position at International Management Group, after which the BMW was sold. "This was one of my mistakes in life," is how he views this decision today, unsurprisingly.
According to the vast history file which comes with the car, it was next owned by the co-founder of the BMW M1-Club, Reinhard Kleissler, who says it came to him in 1990 with around 24,000km on the clock. Kleissler had the car repainted in its original colour at the Dachau workshops of BMW master painter Walter Maurer, as was only right and proper for such a significant/magnificent machine.
Chassis 4301218 was eventually sold to a collector in 2013, who promptly exhibited the car at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este and scooped the coveted Trofeo ASI for the best-preserved post-war car.
In the wake of its concours success, the car was then sold back to Kleissler and finally ended up on display at an automotive museum as part of the current owner's private car collection.
You can currently drool over this unique M1 and the rest of the Bavarian Collection – which features 32 cars and motorcycles from the BMW and associated marques, including an uber-rare 1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II and another 1970s motorsport favourite, 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL 'Batmobile' – at rmsothebys.com.
With an estimate of €575,000 to €725,000, sadly this particular M1 is well beyond my financial reach – though I might nip onto Ebay and look for a pencil case, just for old times' sake.