SHIFT/Monterey | Lot 122
1980 BMW M1 Procar
$913,000 USD | Sold
| Chobham, United Kingdom
14 - 15 AUGUST 2020
- One of the all-time great supercars
- The 36th of 54 Procars built; one of 453 total examples built
- Raced in the 1981 IMSA GTO Championship by Al Unser Jr, the legendary future two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, two-time CART champion, and 1984 Can-Am champion
- Eight podium finishes during the 1981-82 IMSA GTO Championship seasons
- Comprehensive three-year restoration completed by Graber Sportgarage in 2009
- Years of documented race preparation and technical support by Graber Sportgarage
- Campaigned in numerous vintage racing events in Europe, including the Le Mans Classic, Spa Classic, Monza Historic, and Dix Milles Tours du Castellet
- Documented with FIA Historic Technical Passport, restoration invoices and photos, maintenance invoices, technical diagrams, and dyno sheets
- The pinnacle of BMW speed machines
BMW M1: A TRIUMPH OF FORM AND FUNCTION
The BMW M1 holds a special fascination for supercar aficionados and BMW enthusiasts alike, being the first of the celebrated M models as well as the Bavarian company’s first mid-engine supercar. The M1 was born of BMW Motorsports boss Jochen Neerpasch’s obsession with beating Porsche, which during the 1970s had almost uniformly outdone Munich’s otherwise very successful racing coupes.
By 1978 Neerpasch believed the time had come to engineer a Group 5 racecar from the ground up, with a mid-engine design that could eclipse the mighty 934 and 935 models coming from Stuttgart. Lamborghini’s Gianpaolo Dallara was tasked with developing a new tubular steel spaceframe onto which was bolted lightweight fiberglass coachwork penned by Italdesign’s Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Italian-designed vehicle then received a wholly Teutonic powerplant: a new inline six-cylinder racing engine from BMW Motorsports. The first purpose-developed engine by the company’s now legendary M division, the new M88 motor featured four valves per cylinder actuated via dual-camshafts, and six individual throttle bodies. The stout engine generated 273 hp and was mated to a ZF five-speed manual gearbox that delivered power to the rear wheels, governed by a 40 percent limited-slip differential.
A triumph of both form and function, the BMW M1 unfortunately never fully achieved Neerpasch’s vision due only to the fact that Group 5 regulations shifted to eliminate the car’s eligibility. Prototypes developed in 1978 were nevertheless approved for a homologated production run with sights set on Group 4 racing, and ultimately 453 cars were built in total.
Not to be outdone by the FIA, Neerpasch conceived a novel application for the M1 over a round of cocktails with Max Mosely, the former British racing driver and March team principle who held a position with the Formula 1 Constructor’s Association. The two friends envisioned a single-make introductory series to European Formula 1 races in which the top five qualifying drivers would race BMW M1 competition cars against a field of top sports and touring car drivers.
BMW approved the build of 25 cars specifically for this new series, which was dubbed Procar. These cars featured improvements over the original M1 that included a more developed engine (lifting power to 470 hp), as well as coachwork modifications for aerodynamic enhancement such as larger flared wheel arches, a deeper front splitter, and a large rear wing. By the conclusion of production in 1981, 54 examples of the race-engineered M1 Procar had been built, and they remain the cream of the crop of Munich’s renowned supercar.
While other marques have their own fabled halo racing cars, Ferrari with its F40 LM, Mercedes-Benz’s CLK GTR, and the Porsche GT1, the M1 Procar inarguably fits into the conversation as BMW’s very own halo model. With its beautiful wedge design, one which even inspired legendary artist Andy Warhol to put his mark on the most famous BMW art car; to its legendary performance, proven in competition and admired by all, the M1 is the crowning achievement of the marque, and one that they have yet to replicate. The BMW M1 is an understated supercar and in Procar form, it is truly the ultimate driving machine.
CHASSIS NUMBER 1195: A RECOGNIZED CONTENDER
Chassis number 1195, the 36th M1 Procar built, was ordered new by American driver Joe Crevier for use in the IMSA GTO Championship. For his driving partner Crevier recruited the famed Al Unser Jr, the future two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, two-time CART champion, and 1984 Can-Am champ whose career was just beginning. Wearing #67, the M1 debuted at the 6-Hour Toyota Grand Prix at Riverside, California, in April 1981, finishing a promising 3rd in class, and 11th overall. Unser Jr’s results at the following race, the Monterey Triple Crown at Laguna Seca, were even better, as the M1 roared to a 2nd-in-class finish. Results over the remainder of the season were similarly respectable, as the BMW completed the 11-race calendar with five podium finishes (including another 2nd in class, and two more 3rd-in-class finishes).
Crevier returned 1195 to IMSA action in 1982 but the M1 understandably began to pale in the face of newer competition, and after three podium finishes in seven races through May, the car was retired. In 1983 he sold the BMW to Don Walker of Dallas Motorsport, who continued to run the car in IMSA GTO races. In 1987 Walker sold the M1 to Franco Sbarro of Switzerland, the ex-Scuderia Filipinetti mechanic who had founded his own respected coachworks and modification concern, Atelier de Construction Automobile. Sbarro retained possession of the BMW for 13 years, after which it was acquired in 2000 by a Ferrari and Alfa Romeo specialist based in Norway.
In 2006 the M1 returned to Switzerland when purchased by Graber Sportgarage, the descendent company of the prewar coachbuilder of the same name, which was known for clothing Bentley, Bugatti, and Alvis chassis. As illustrated by numerous invoices, Graber conducted a comprehensive three-year restoration of the Procar that addressed all mechanical and cosmetic aspects.
In 2009 the BMW was sold to Swiss enthusiast Pedro Mello-Breyner, and he ran the car in several vintage events, including the 2010 Le Mans Classic, the 2010 Silverstone 1000 KM support race, and the 2011 Spa Classic. Three years later the M1 passed to a European collector, who continued to campaign the car in Classic Endurance Racing series events such as the 2015 Monza Historic and the 2017 Spa Classic. Additional appearances included three Dix Milles Tours du Castellet, with noted racing driver Sam Hancock behind the wheel. Invoices on file illustrate continued attention by Graber Sportgarage from 2015 through 2019 that included significant race preparation and support.
The FIA issued a Historic Technical Passport for 1195 in 2017, making the car eligible for some of the most noted vintage racing events worldwide, including both European venues like the Le Mans Classic and at American circuits such as Daytona and Sebring. Documented with invoices from Graber that illustrate great care and investment in the car, as well as technical diagrams and dyno sheets, this BMW M1 Procar is an amazingly maintained and presented example. Ideal for any marque enthusiast, 1195 offers continued racing thrills in one of Munich’s most celebrated speed machines and may be proudly exhibited at important competition and concours events worldwide.