When it was introduced at the Paris Auto Show in 1978 the BMW M1 was the first mid-engine vehicle BMW had ever built. 33 years later, the low production M1 is the only mid-engine vehicle the company has ever built. One of the rare M1s is currently listed on Ebay, but the entry price to malaise era Bavarian super car ownership is not for the faint of heart or the shallow of pockets.
Even though today M stands for BMW performance to car lovers all over the world, before the company introduced the M1 to the world in 1978, the letter didn't mean any more to car obsessed individuals than L or N. After the 277 horsepower mid-engine M1, capable of speeds in excess of 160MPH, was introduced the groundwork was officially laid for a performance dynasty. Powered by a 3.5 liter inline six cylinder that would be later used in less exotic M vehicles, The M1 was built as a homologation special for racing. Production of the rare super cars just barely exceeded the required amount of cars for homologation.
Exactly how many M1s varies depending on what source you consult (even the auction shows two different numbers), but the production number is generally listed as 445, 456 or somewhere in between the two. Regardless of exactly how many cars were built, we have to imagine not many M1s have traveled as few miles as this particular red example. The odometer shows this M1 has only traveled 4418 km or 2745 miles in its 31 years. Few details are included about this car's low mileage history beyond the fact it is a one owner car that spent most of its life in Germany.
Not surprisingly this low mileage example of a rare and historically important car doesn't come cheaply. Bidding is currently just over $215,000 and the reserve has not been met with only a few hours left on the auction. With so few built, it is hard to say when such an example will come up for sale again and accordingly fairly easy to see why collectors are eager to pay for this low mileage example.
With that being said, I find it a little hard to believe BMW M1 ownership is actually worth the expensive price of admission. While M1s are certainly important cars, like many other vehicles of the era, it's performance capabilities have not stood the test of time. What was once considered one of the fastest performers in the world is now a half second slower from0-60 than a brand new V6 Mustang. The M1 is certainly cool, but for the purchase price, I would probably spend the money on a new R8 and a pair of M88 powered M5/6s from the late 80s to get my mid-engine German car/80s BMW fix.