First 1977 BMW M1 Found In A Barn

1977 BMW M1 E26 Prototype

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This ad is rather vague, but it would seem the seller claims this car is the very first Lamborghini built BMW M1! If that’s really the case, this car is an extremely important piece of history! The story goes that BMW commissioned Lamborghini to build enough M1s to homologate them for racing, but disputes over the contract lead to BMW building these super cars in house. Lamborghini built a few prototypes before the agreement fell through and the seller states that this car is the very first of said prototypes! It appears to have been parked in a garage or barn of some type and it’s been there for quite some time! It’s now listed here on eBay in Bad Aibling, Germany with bidding only up to $6,800!

1977 BMW M1 E26 When New

Can you imagine discovering this parked in the barn? These rare machines are marvels of German engineering, with the highly tuned M88 inline six capable of 800+ horsepower. Street going versions were tuned to a more modest 277 horses, but that’s still an impressive amount of power for a street going inline six. The seller doesn’t provide any photos of the engine or any of the mechanicals for that matter, but they do state that the engine, transmission, suspension etc need complete restoration so hopefully that means they are all still here! Being one of the Lamborghini built cars, I don’t know how similar the specs are to the in-house built street cars. Given the paint job and body conversion, this one could have even been used for racing.

1977 BMW M1 Barn Find

There are a lot of questions to be answered with this find. It looks to be a real M1, but you will want to do your homework and make sure it is real. I would also want to make sure it is complete and not seriously damaged. Finding parts for a street going M1 can be difficult, as they only built 450 or so. I’d also want to find out if there are any differences between the Lambo prototypes and the BMW built cars. It would also be good to find out if there is any documentation with it, as its history could really impact the value. If it really is original, I think the historical significance alone would justify saving and preserving it! What do you think, is it worth making a trip to Germany to see?

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  1. Mark

    I think there are an awful lot of questions about how authentic this car really is. I’m not sure who you would have to go to to get the complete story, it could be either Lamborghini or BMW. It seems like if the car really is rare as it appears to be there would be a lot more interest in it and it probably wouldn’t have ever been stored away like it was.

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    • Dirk

      If it’s sitting on a VW Bug pan, I’m skeptical.:-)

      Like 0
  2. Jason Houston

    If it’s on eBay, consider it suspicious. And if it were real, look at how soon similar listings get ended after only a day or two.

    And for those who like to buy these overpriced foreign cars on such flimsy representations… well, you’re gonna need some place to drive it, won’t you? Now, I’ve got this big, ol’ bridge in New York I’m not using…

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  3. JeffStaff

    Wow. A peculiar one for sure. Not often you see an unaccounted-for M1 come up for grabs.

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  4. randy

    It’s at 25K now, and I bet it hits 100K. I’ve been around these cars and they are well built, and very heavy for what they are.

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  5. DolphinMember

    The history of the production M1 is confusing enough. The history of any prototypes is pretty sparse and the only information on it that I have ever seen is in an article in a 1997 issue of Automobile Quarterly, where Matt Stone says that “Neerpasch [BMW’s Motorsport manager] took the project back after Lamborghini had built a handful of prototypes” because Lamborghini was about to go into bankruptcy.

    Maybe this Ebay car is one of those prototypes made by Lamborghini but I think you would need documentation to know that. And I doubt the VIN given in the Ebay listing tells you much. Prototypes are not usually given a VIN. Usually only production cars are given VINs. Although E26 is the design designation for the M1 model, the seller has it backwards, as 26E instead of E26. You would really want to have Jochen Neerpasch, who is still alive, or someone closely involved with the early stages of the M1 program, give an opinion.

    It’s conceivable that this car is an M1 Procar racer because of the large front air dam and other equipment in it and the banner across the top of the windshield with “PIQUET” on it. That refers to Nelson Piquet, who was the Procar series champion in 1980. If true, that makes this a ‘production’ Procar race series car, not a prototype road car. And BMW would have built the car if it were really a Procar racer, not Lamborghini.

    The car is interesting because it looks like it does have an inline-6 BMW race engine with red intake tubes, and connected to a big racing transaxle. Again, if it’s a prototype you would expect a road car engine, not a race engine and transaxle with oil cooling lines attached.

    You would need to go there to view it, and bring an expert like Neerpasch with you. Otherwise this is just another online listing with bad photos taken in poor light and cramped quarters, and without proper documentation.

    Like 1
    • JeffStaff

      Great info – thanks.

      Like 1
  6. Dan h

    Had a client with a beautiful and mint early ’84 M6, it had the same engine as the M1. What a awesome motor!
    Wonder how legit this ad is, being that it is on eBay and not at some auction house.

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  7. bcavileer

    Dolphin has good eyes, the S38 style flat valvecover looks OK as does the coil to color. I do not remember the yellow corner lights, but the M1 up in Montvale when i was at BMW training was probably a euro spec car. Pics are pretty shabby for a potentially great car. But alas, I was too busy rewiring 7 series cars after the coastal floods to play with racing stuff. Good memories though.

    Like 0
  8. Horse Radish

    If this is real, then this ad only serves notice to those interested, that the car now IS AVAILABLE.
    This auction will most likely not finish as the offers are already being made under the table……

    Notice one thing though:
    the wiper configuration is completely different and the windshield seems to me of different proportions….

    Like 0
  9. DolphinMember

    A relevant point, HR, I didn’t notice that. The Ebay car has a large central wiper, the kind you see on race cars with a full windshield and a roof. The street car with all the people around it has a pair of conventional wipers. The large central wiper on the Ebay car is consistent with it being one of the racing Procars and not a street prototype.

    Since I remember seeing photos and films of probably 15 or so Procars running together in the Procar series races as warm-up races before the 1979 and 1980 F1 races, I think the Ebay car is much more likely one of those and not the first street prototype M1 from Lamborghini.

    It makes me wonder if the seller might want to think his car is the first M1 prototype and not just one of the many Procars that got flogged in 2 years of races back then.

    Like 0
  10. Thom E

    Dolphin has provided a good synopsis of the M1. The Procar series was started AFTER changes to Group 4 made the M1 a non-starter. These cars were all built by the factory as spec racers for F1 drivers to race on F1 weekends. They would not have mixed in w/ pre-production prototypes. BMW Classiche may have records for these cars.

    The picture of the grey car could be one of the Lambo protos but is unlikely it is the car for sale, if indeed there is one.

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  11. Rock Barrett

    Any interested party in such a poorly represented piece of automotive history , or piece of BMW history would do well to re-think what he’s looking at and how many BAD REPRESENTATIONS are put on eBay in any given month of the year. I say ,if there isn’t documentation as to what this car is, then anything else is just speculation and wishful thinking. RUN, and fast, to something that you can really wrap your wallet and your mind around. I mean really guys. There are so many stories and almost real deals out there,why take such a risk. Just send me your money, and I’ll deed you my beach front lot that I have in Tennessee. You can see the mountains on four sides. Do your homework BEFORE you pull those kind of triggers. Good hunting.

    Like 0
  12. kenzo

    The bidding is now over 80K. The picture of the street version is from some sort of a promo type or magazine article. Interesting find if real.

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  13. randy

    Back in the 80’s the euro scene is Dallas was pretty “tight knit”, at least we all knew of each other’s shops and personnel, The was a shop in east Dallas that worked on a lot of exotic cars, they had an M1 in their shop and it was being worked on “after hours”. Someone took it out for a “test drive” and the story is that he drove over a man hole cover so fast, that the vacuum under the car sucked the man hole cover up and destroyed the under side of the car.

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  14. randy

    It got up to 81K, and was pulled.
    Someone made him a deal he could not refuse.

    Like 0
    • Horse Radish

      It’s like I said above days ago….

      Like 0
  15. JMB#7

    Boy would I love to drive one those Pro cars. Best it were already flogged, because that is what they were are for. Interesting about the Lamborghini deal… But Would you really want an M1 made by Lamborghini?

    Like 0

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