Rare Supercar Uncovered: 1981 BMW M1

Looking at this photo you wouldn’t give this find much thought, it looks a lot like a Pontiac Fiero, but it’s actually something far more important and incredible! Back in December, Olaf E sent us a link to an article on Autovisie.nl about a BMW M1 that was recently discovered in a barn in Italy. The article linked to a Facebook page for a BMW specialist in Germany, so I messaged them ASAP. Felipe García, the owner of Mint Classics, messaged me back right away but sadly has yet to get back to me with more information or photos. Hopefully we will hear from him soon, so we can add more details to this amazing story. Special thanks to Olaf for the tip!

The M1 was BMW’s first attempt at building a mid-engined supercar, with the sole purpose being to homologate the car and engine for racing. Since they lacked the experience of designing and building a mid-engine supercar, they actually turned to the Italians, specifically Lamborghini to design the chassis and build the cars. While it sounds like a brilliant idea, Lamborghini wasn’t in any position to take on such a monumental task. Rather than abandon the project, BMW had Italengineering finish the chassis design work. BMW then built all 453 cars in house by hand! The end product has all the flair of an Italian, but the attention to detail and precision of a German!

Power comes from a 3.5 liter inline six, it’s a BMW after all. Street going cars like this had about 270 horsepower, while the turbo charged racing engines were good for about 850 horsepower! I’d be perfectly happy with 270 in a car this size, it was still capable of 160 mph. This particular example has seen just 7,329 kilometers or about 4,550 miles!

According to Felipe, the original owner parked it almost immediately after buying it, but there is no word on why it was parked and forgotten. The engine might be high strung, but I highly doubt it developed any mechanical issues in such a short amount of time. Hopefully Felipe can fill us in on the rest of the story!

This really is an important find and hopefully we can follow along as Mint Classics restores it back to it’s former glory! I imagine when it’s completed, it will go for serious money. With such low mileage and being a real deal barn find, it will likely go for more than your typical M1. Again, special thanks to Olaf for this amazing tip! If you come across any amazing barn find stories, we would love to hear about them, so be sure to email us at mail@barnfinds.com!

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Comments

  1. Tom Driscoll

    The Holy Grail ! Great story, look forward to hearing more about it…

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  2. Livermoron

    About 10 years ago I was interviewing for a job in Concord CA and while getting a tour of a warehouse I spotted a car under a cover. I knew before the cover was pulled off that it was an M1. I recall it was in running condition but not much more. At the time I didn’t know how rare they were.

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  3. Rick

    Why can’t I find stuff like this?

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    • Danno

      I read a lot of Instructables. Apparently, most things you need can be found “…just laying around in the back yard…”

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  4. Van

    I saw one of these in a BMW shop in 1983. The customer was complaining that it was hard to shift from 4th to 5th at 6,000 rpm. Although this is normal for a ZF transaxle, how fast would you have to go before this was a problem?

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  5. nessy

    Great car. You can tell right away in the first photo by the rim that this is an M1. To me, it does not look like it was stored away for a long period of time. The car looks way too clean. That dust looks more like it was sitting in a body shop. Yep, the more I look at the photos both of the exterior and the interior, the more I believe that is body shop dust from other cars being worked on around it. Again, great find, however, there are more of these cars around than you might think.

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  6. Luke Fitzgerald

    Love all the crap all over it – goes to show that ignorance isn’t restricted to ‘lowly’ domestic owners

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  7. Jeff Jeff Lavery Staff

    Oh geez. This is a find among finds.

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  8. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    To find an M1 with low kms in a dusty barn or storage lockup is amazing. From the start these were scarce and expensive, so it would be hard to forget it was there. I wonder what the story on it is and who owns it.

    Agree with nessy that the wheels give it away immediately. I don’t know of another car that had wheels like that.

    These have become big ticket cars, with recent median auction sale numbers of about $440K and a high auction sale of $605K in the SCM Guide. The rarer special BMWs have become much more collectible in the last couple of years, and I expect that will continue as the established collector cars move more out of sight in value, leaving these cars among the relatively affordable ones.

    And the fact that an F1 support race series used the M1 exclusively probably doesn’t hurt their collectibility.

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    • Tioguishe

      Oh yeah!
      You are referring to the Procar series. Amazing races held before F1 Grand Prixes and driven by the same F1 drivers. It was cool not only because of the quality of the cars but also for the opportunity to see those drivers competing with equal equipment

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_M1_Procar_Championship

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  9. Tom Driscoll

    The earliest price I can remember for an M1 was $100k, and at the time, that was serious bucks.

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  10. Bob S

    Whoever put that debris on the hood has no respect for anything material.

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    • grant

      Not to mention the tire. On the roof.

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  11. Mr. Bond

    I remember pulling up behind an M1 in Newport Beach in 1983, in my Alfa GTV. He was first at the lights. For a lark, I gave it everything I had, and he disappeared like we were in full on Reverse. Been taken with them ever since, to say the least.

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  12. alan

    Built by Baur Karosserie for BMW When Lambo backed out.

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  13. Romi Johnson

    Finds like this makes me want to get out more and do some exploring

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  14. Jk

    Greatest regret of my car buying life. Late 90’s was attending a wedding in Indy. Autoweek had an ad for an M1 in Indy and I made an appointment to see it. The ask was in the 85k range for a 30k mile example that had sat in a collection or museum. It took turns as if it was on rails during the test drive. As we talked I explained I would drive it but the seller wanted more of a museum home and I passed thinking hey I should just invest the money instead. Didn’t realize that it would be such a great investment and a world of fun as well. Sigh….

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