1979 BMW M1
VIN: WBS0000009 4301094
One of the original 40 Procar M1 chassis
One of a kind, road-going Procar
This vehicle, number 31 of 40 Procar M1 chassis produced from 1979-1980, started its life as a spare car for the BMW M1 Procar Championship racing series. Prepared at the factory as a racecar, 094 would never see the racetrack. It would later be assembled as a road car by BMW and delivered to the dealer BMW AG Niederlassung where it was sold as a series production car. Its first owner from Mainz, Germany purchased the car in November of 1979. In October of 1981 it moved on to what is believed to be the first owners daughter. It was then sold to an artist who used the car as a canvas featured in expositions and newspapers.
094 ended up at the German BMW dealer AHG in May of 1983, who then fitted the car with their special AHG M1 Studie package. Peter Gartemann, the owner AHG, had the idea of creating a limited-design study that was based on the look of the Procar M1s but was intended for the street. This option was open to well-to-do BMW customers and factory race drivers, and only 10 would ever be built. The famous German paint shop of Hermann Altmiks was hired to apply a custom art-car paint scheme.
094 was purchased by an American collector in November of 1983 from Automobile International in Munich, West Germany. It arrived in the US in March of 1984, and received its EPA release letter in December of that year. When imported this M1 was modified for DOT compliance, but was released as EPA exempt (not street legal in California). The NHTSA released the car in 1985, and the car began to appear in shows soon after.
The M1 was very active in the BMW scene until the late 90s, when it was put in storage as a long term collectable. In October of 2012 the M1 was awakened once more, and this point had only covered 6000km (3728 miles) since its arrival in the US.
After 094 arrived at Canepa it was thoroughly examined, and its physical condition called for a complete restoration. The car was disassembled, and work began on a complete ground-up restoration. Upon closer inspection the car was found to be rust and corrosion free, and had never been involved in an accident.
During the process of disassembly interesting telltales began to surface suggesting that 094 had once been a Procar: holes for the original Procar wing under the paint, adjustable suspension points, deletion of the door pads for the electric mirrors, and miscellaneous Procar specific brackets.
Upon confirming its Procar history the decision was made to build 094 into a Procar, completing its destiny from 37 years earlier. The only twist would be that this Procar would be for the street.
In order to assure its accuracy we went as far as to bring an original factory Procar racecar into the shop to be studied and photographed to make sure that no detail was overlooked.
The goal was to use as many original Procar parts as possible, and to that end 094 is now fitted with Procar suspension uprights, hubs, control arms, tie rods, axles, mirrors, and that amazing Procar body kit and rear wing. Original Procar center lock BBS wheels were sourced, the centers crack checked, and then rebuilt with new 17 inch rim halves. The front wheels are 10 inch wide running 265/40 ZR 17 Michelin Pilot Sports, the rear wheels are 12.5” wide running 335/35 ZR 17 Michelin Pilot Sports.
Since the original brake calipers for the M1 Procar were no longer available we fitted larger Brembo calipers, as were used on the famous Porsche 962 racecar. These calipers clamp down on 13 inch Porsche 935 rotors attached to original Procar hats. The increase to 17 inch rims allow for ample spacing for the new calipers. At all four corners are custom Penske coil-overs. Thanks to the factory installed adjustable suspension points the car sits low, and with a stance that befits a Procar.
The M88 engine was sent out to VAC Motorsports for a high performance rebuild. Now fitted with period Motec electronic fuel injection the engine is putting out 414 hp and 357 lb/ft of torque (360 hp and 310 lb/ft of torque - at the wheels.) The electronic fuel injection was cleverly hidden, and the engine retains its stock mechanical injection look. The ZF 5-speed manual transaxle was rebuilt by Vintage Racing Motors Inc. All the gauges were rebuilt and now show a 7,700 rpm redline, as well as an 200 mph speedometer.
The body and chassis were completely stripped down and restored. Hundreds of hours were invested in blocking the fiberglass body to make sure it was laser straight with a flawless finish. The body gaps are perfect. We went as far as giving the normally unseen chassis rails a concours finish. The front flares on the original Procars were slightly oversized in the day. We took the opportunity to narrow up and reshaped the front flares so they fit over the front wheels more accurately, and better match the proportions of the rear flares. Great pains were made to ensure that all the body panels, including the front bumper and rear wing, were fitted and finished to a concours standard. The paint is Basalt Blau, a factory BMW color that was never offered to the public on an M1, but was featured on four special M1s built for the BMW Board and family.
Canepa added numerous custom touches to the build. Most noticeable are the Procar style dry-break gas fillers behind the rear buttress quarterlights. Machined from billet aluminum these functional dry-breaks can also spin off like traditional fuel caps allowing the car to be filled at any gas station. Fitted to the original Procar wheels are period looking, hand-made wheel fans. To give the car a clean, finished look all the body fasteners were hidden.
Our upholstery department retrimmed the car with black leather, keeping the original shape of the interior while updating the look and feel. In preparation for the new interior the passenger compartment was fully lined with the latest in sound and heat insulation. The ashtray, electric mirror switch, door air vents, and manual window caps were deleted. The stitching was done in complementary grey to match the paint. The carpets are a darker shade of grey done in the finest wool pile. In lieu of the original black and white fabric the seat inserts, door inserts, firewall and headliner were all finished in perforated leather.
The completed car made its debut in the paddock of the 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and was an immediate hit.
About the M1
The E26 M1 project, which helped launch the BMW Motorsport division, was approved by BMW AG in 1976 under the condition that it would not interfere with the production of any other BMW model. The M1 was developed to show that BMW was a legitimate manufacturer of sports cars that could compete with Porsche and Ferrari on the street, and to offer a purpose-built machine that could participate competitively in the Group 4 and Group 5 racing series.
BMW Motorsport initially contracted Lamborghini to assemble the cars with engines produced and shipped from Germany. However, severe financial troubles at Lamborghini forced BMW to terminate their agreement with the Italian supercar maker after only a few cars had been produced. Going forward the production examples of the Giugiaro-designed E26 M1 were partially assembled at Ital Design in Turin using fiberglass bodywork supplied by T.I.R, and tubular spaceframes supplied by Marchesi. Final assembly was then conducted at the Baur coachworks in Stuttgart, Germany. Each M1 was then given a final inspection at the BMW Motorsport facility in Munich before being delivered to its owner.
Unfortunately the Lamborghini delay meant that the M1 would never see direct competition with the Porsche 935 in Group 5 racing, instead BMW created a one-make series call the BMW M1 Procar Championship, or simply Procar. The series pitted professional drivers from the Formula One World Championship, World Sportscar Championship, European Touring Car Championship, and other international series against one another using identically modified BMW M1 sports cars.
While the Procar series only lasted two seasons, from 1979 to 1980, its popularity was undeniable. With their flared fenders, imposing front spoiler, massive rear wing, and incredible speed, the M1’s presence on the race track left a lasting impression.
There are many conflicting production numbers regarding the E26 M1. The official BMW production figures show that 454 examples were produced in a three-year period between July 1978 and July 1981, making it one of their rarest models. Of these 40 were competition Procar versions, while the remaining 414 examples constitute the road-going street cars. It is thought that the final street-legal M1 (non-Procar) was produced in February 1981.
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