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      01-05-2017, 11:50 PM   #1
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1981 BMW M1 Restoration Project (with pics and timeline slide show)

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Not sure if this was posted before, but I've been inspired by the BMW M1 barnfind that I posted here:

So I looked on youtube if there were any video of a restoration of such model and I found one. Not only the video (slide show) was fantastic, but the work done on the car to bring it to "better than new" was incredible!

With this video, there was a link to the web page of the man who is the owner of the car and the story of its incredible restoration:

Having read that amazing story, I thought it would be great to share it with the Bimmerpost community. So I've copied-paste below some of the text text from the web site for you all. It shows the history and technical information of the car as well as the time line of the restoration work (with pics from the owner) which started in February 2006 and ended in November 2008. Note that the timeline has lots of pics so I'll put it in 2 parts in the replies.. The owner of this restoration already owned a red M1 and wanted to restore his second M1 to "better than factory spec", which you can see yield an incredible result. He decided to paint the car in Grey 211, of which only 4 cars were made, including one for the then head of the M Division Jochen Neerpasch. I also put in the end a test drive of both production car and Group 4 M1's from the December 1981 issue of Car and Driver, with impressive measured data and which explains why the M1 was such a fantastic handling car. It was in fact conceived as a race car and then detuned and adapted for the road. I have also attached some high quality pictures of an M1 (not of the restored car, but showing you cool details of this fantastic car likewise). I suggest you watch the youtube slide show of the restoration before reading the below. Note I am not the owner of that fantastic car, but I wish I was! ;-)

Video of the restoration:


Text from the web site:

Welcome to

I love cars. I love to look at cars. I love to drive cars. I love to talk about cars. I love to read about cars. I just love cars. Out of all the cars out there I probably love the BMW M1 the best.

Why the M1? Even though it was considered the ultimate super car of its time, it is not particularly fast or powerful by today's standards. It doesn't have all of the plush creature comforts and fancy electronics that most new cars have. It is not very practical. There is little room to put luggage or groceries anywhere and no room at all for kids in the back.

Why then the M1? It does make all the right sounds. The engine cries, howls and screams some of the most gorgeous noises I have ever heard. The mid-engine layout and low center of gravity help to give the M1 wonderful handling. It looks as stunning and seductive as any other sports car from Italy but has functioning and reliable German made mechanicals.

I also love the somewhat sad and tragic history of the M1. It seems to me that, during its short lifespan, the enthusiasts within BMW, dreaming crazy dreams of racing immortality, scored a victory over the Bavarian bean counting marketers. Sadly, in the end the M1 had to bow to economic realities and the lack of a place to compete in racing and the project was abandoned after only 455 examples were produced.

Most important when it comes to a car like the M1 is how it makes you feel driving it. To me driving the M1 is like therapy, it clears the mind and soothes the soul...

Anyone who googles “BMW M1” will find many links to sites with stories about and pictures of the M1. I am not looking to just add one more site to this list. I am about to start a complete nut-and-bold restoration of one of these rolling pieces of art. No two pieces of this car will stay together. I am told that the process will take a year (this probably means I should expect to see the finished product in about 18 to 24 months).

On this site I want to document everything that is done, from the “before” to the “after” pictures and all that is involved in connecting the two.

I purchased the ProjectM1 from a dealer in Florida on Saturday, February 4th 2006. She was delivered to the WerkShop early March. This is when the official start of this saga was recorded. The best way to follow the progress of this project and to see where it currently stands is to check the News Page. I also invite everybody to drop me an eMail with any questions, comments or remarks.

History of the M1

“Our family stuck together and brought a healthy and wholesome baby into this world: the BMW M1 !”. Words spoken by an excited and proud Jochen Neerpasch in December 1978. The baby was indeed healthy but labor had not been without problems.

Jochen Neerpasch, by all accounts the father of the M1, had been the head of BMW Motorsport GmbH since mid-1972.

The history of the M1 actually started before 1972 with the “turbo styling study”. This study resulted in the futuristic looking BMW Turbo. The Turbo was never envisioned as a potential production machine but based on the design some wind-tunnel testing and other engineering work was done. This preliminary work served as a loose guide in the conception of the M1.

The BMW Turbo (note: see the history of the desigher of the Turbo, Paul Bracq:

BMW had always been active in racing. For a producer of high-performance cars racing is a great way to bring the speed, power and handling of the product to the attention of the customers. There is also a fair amount of cross-pollination between the race and production cars. Production cars are ‘souped up’ to be used as race cars while technologies that prove themselves in racing will ultimately find their way into the production vehicles.

The early 70s brought success for the aging 3.0 CSL in the Touring Cars competition and BMW Motorsport was producing the dominant engine in Formula 2. Jochen Neerpasch had his eye on a bigger prize. Fiercely competitive, he wanted to crush the other teams in Group 4 and 5 Racing and ultimately develop a BMW team for the Formula 1. The members of the Board of Directors of BMW, a group of men known as the Vorstand, were not being paid to be audacious. They were in the business of producing street cars and had much more to gain -from both a technical and a marketing standpoint- to stay with racing Touring Cars. The seeds for some great corporate intrigue and maneuvering were sown!

Somehow, backed perhaps by the attention the Turbo had generated, Jochen Neerpasch was able to get a green light for the M1 project, originally known as E26, and was given complete responsibility. The goal was to build a car that would rule sports car racing. It might be symptomatic of bad blood between BMW Motorsport and BMW AG that he immediately went to an outside company for the design of his supercar. He took this assignment to a prominent young designer by the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro of a company called Italdesign.

To be eligible for group 4 racing the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) required that a minimum of 400 cars were produced and sold to the general public. This is the only reason why the road version of the M1 exists. Building something like the M1 doesn’t fit into the schedule of a company that normally builds cars in a very high volume. The M1 was almost entirely going to be made by hand and Jochen Neerpasch had to find some facilities outside of BMW. A partnership with Lamborghini must have seemed like an obvious and sensible choice. Lamborghini knew how to produce high quality cars, was used to work with small production runs and had excess capacity it needed to fill in order to spread fixed costs over a larger number of units. For a while, especially from an engineering point of view, the cooperation between BMW Motorsport and Lamborghini was very successful.

Sadly, when the production was about to start Lamborghini didn’t have the funds to purchase any raw materials in quantity. They were on the brink of bankruptcy. There are some great stories of how a gang of BMW people headed down to Lamborghini to “liberate” the existing prototypes, tools and body-moulds after the decision was made not to throw more money at the Italians.

After a delay in the production of more than a year a very complicated and slow method was found to manufacture the M1. This method involved four different companies at four different locations and it meant that cars in varying stages of completeness had to be transported back and forth all over Europe. To add insult to injury the FIA changed their rules during these delays, robbing the M1 of an arena to dominate as it was intended to do.

In an effort to salvage the M1 project Jochen Neerpasch scored an incredible coup; the Pro-Car series. The stars of the Formula 1 circuit would race some young, hungry and up-and-coming drivers in identically prepared M1s. These events were organized in support of regular Formula 1 races. The Pro-Car series generated plenty publicity and excitement but in the end it was too little, too late.

The M1 had turned into a financial disaster and the Vorstand pulled the plug. The budget for BMW Motorsport was drastically reduced and Jochen Neerpasch left in 1980 to join Talbot. At Talbot he got to set up a Formula 1 team, something the Vorstand wouldn’t allow him to do. The M1, despite being wholesome, was abandoned. An orphan.

Technology of the M1

Martin Braungart, Jochen Neerpasch’ second in command, who was very influential during the M1’s development, was quoted as saying: “We started with the development of the M1 because we wanted to have a car that would be competitive in motor sport. We consistently strived to reach this goal, like we would have done if we were building a Formula 1 car. That is why even the street version is build with practically 100% racecar parts and had to be adapted to be able to participate in regular traffic.”

This more or less typifies the (street version of the) M1; it is a racecar modified to be used in regular traffic. The street version would not exist if it wasn’t for FIA’s homologation rules (see M1 History). The same rules dictated that the differences between the street and race versions, if any, had to be quite small.

Even though the relationship between BMW Motorsport and Lamborghini was terminated, a lot of the original subcontractors stayed with the project. The backbone of the M1 is a steel frame, build by Marchesi, a firm located in Modena, Italy. There is no difference between the frame of the street version and the frame found in the racecars. It features an integrated roll cage and iwas designed to be light in weight yet extremely rigid and stiff to be able to support high power engines. In Group 5 trim the turbo-charged M88 engine produces, depending on turbo boost, about 900 hp. The front of the frame was strengthened with steel plate to improve the safety of the occupants. Other reinforcements were made to keep the engine from moving forward during a crash. A finished frame weighted 194 kg (about 430 lbs) and took about 150 man-hours to make.

During the beginning stages of the development of the M1 the idea was to have a company other than BMW develop and produce the engine. There were plans for 8 and even 10 cylinder engines. It was relatively late in the development process that the decision was made to use a BMW straight 6 power plant. The starting point for the development of the M1 engine (internally designated as the M88) was the motor of the 635 CSi. At that point in time this unit (the M90) was the most powerful engine available within BWM. The M90 had been around for about 10 years but BMW’s engine guru Paul Rosche had a lot of work to do before the motor was ready to be used in the M1. In the end the commonality of the M90 and M88 engines was very small.

A completely new head, with 2 camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder, was developed and the decision was made to use a dry-sump lubrication system. This would mitigate oil starvation problems that can occur during hard cornering but it also allowed the engine to be mounted lower in the frame, thereby lowering the center of gravity of the entire car. A dry-sump system also reduces parasitic loss compared to a wet sump setup. Paul Rosche decided to use a mechanical fuel injection system made by Kugelfischer. The high pressure of this system helped in reaching an optimized mix of the air and fuel.

The final product was available in 3 different versions, there was the M88 engine for the road cars, detuned to produce 277 hp, the M88/1 for the group 4 racecars, producing 490 hp and the turbo-charged M88/2 for the group 5 cars, producing between 850 and 950 hp. The racecars were producing their peak power at a stratospheric 10,000 rpm. It is testimony to the great strength of the engine that this is even possible.

The M1 was given double-wishbone suspension and vented disc brakes on all four corners and anti-roll bars at both the front and rear. The suspension of the street version of the M1 was essentially the same as the one fitted on the race car. The M1's body was made from Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) and it was glued and riveted to the frame.

The dry weight of the street version of the M1 is about 1300 kg (2870 lbs). 277 hp is enough to propel the car to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.

Specifications of the M1

Mid-engine, rear-drive, two-seat, two-door sports car coupe, manufactured by BMW Motorsport

Production car / (Group 4 Car) Dimensions and Capacities
Wheelbase (in.): 100.8 (100.8)
Overall length (in.): 171.7 (171.7)
Overall width (in.): 71.8 (75.7)
Overall height (in.): 44.0 (43.7)
Track front (in.): 61.0 (62.8)
Track rear (in.): 62.0 (61.4)
Curb weight (lbs): 2867.0 (2249.0)
Fuel tank (gal): 30.6 (na)

Engine type: cast iron Inline six-cylinder, four valves per cylinder, dohc, alloy head, dry sump
Displacement (cc/ci): 3453/210.6 (3500/213.5)
Compression ratio: 9.0:1 (10.8:1)
Fuel delivery: Kugelfischer-Bosch mechanical fuel injection; three double intake pipes with six throttles, 46mm each
Net bhp @ rpm (DIN): 277 @ 6500 (470 @ 9000)
Net lbs/ft torque @ rpm (DIN): 239 @ 5000 (282 @ 7000)
Transmission type: ZF five-speed manual transaxle
Final drive ratio: 4.22:1 (4.22:1)

Front suspension:
Unequal-length A-arms, light-alloy wheel carriers, coil springs, anti-roll bar (Unequal-length A-arms, magnesium wheel carriers, coil springs, adjustable anti-roll bar)
Rear suspension:
Unequal-length A-arms, light-alloy wheel carriers, coil springs, anti-roll bar
(Unequal-length A-arms, magnesium wheel carriers, coil springs, adjustable anti-roll bar)
Steering: Rack-and-pinion (Rack-and-pinion)
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.1 (2.0)
Turn diameter (ft): 42.7 (na)
Brake system: Four wheel vented discs, 11.8" front, 11.7" rear, dual circuit, boosted, pressure limited rear (Four-wheel ATE vented discs, dual circuit, driver adjustable for front/rear balance)
Wheels: Cast-light-alloy, 7"*16" front, 8"*16" rear (BBS modular, 11.0"*16" front 12.5"*16" rear)
Pirelli P7, 205/55VR-16 front, 225/50VR-16 rear (10.0/23.5*14 front, 12.5/25.0*16 rear)

0-60 mph (sec): 5.6 (4.5)
quarter mile (sec): 13.7 (11.6)
Top speed (mph): 167 (190)
Mpg: 13 (5)

The Project M1 (the ‘Donor’ car)

Why is this the ‘Donor’ car –and people did ask me this question– ? It is because this M1 will, if everything goes according to plan, undergo a metamorphosis, it will change into a new and even better M1. For that reason this is a ‘donor’ and not just a car that is subject to restoration.

On Sunday, March 5 2006 she was delivered in the Chicago land area.

I had an opportunity to fully examine my ProjectM1 on Saturday (March 11th 2006) and my impression was that it is more of a true Project than I had imagined. The custom paint job is in rough shape and if I hadn’t planned for a new paint job I would certainly be planning for one by now. There seems to be a lot of rust in the fuel-tanks, reportedly a very common problem for M1s that sit still for too long. Brown muck is clearly visible underneath the oil filling cap. The front and rear bumper-covers were butchered as part of the ‘federalization’ process, robbing the car, in the eye of a discerning beholder, of some of it’s beautiful lines.

The good news is that the car is in good hands. Eventually, after spending enough time, effort and, of course, money she is going to be a stunning beauty.

It is a real shame that the original Campagnolo wheels are missing. I’ve been told that only the front wheels (less wide than the rear ones) are available from BMW. There is at least one private party in Germany that still has complete sets of NOS wheels available. I paid $1950 for a set including the original balancing weights, valves and center caps but excluding shipping.

I took the picture above of some of the instruments on Saturday (March 11th 2006), this 25 year old car only has 760 miles on the odometer. I am not sure if I believe in the accuracy of this number especially in light of the presence of a sticker with the color-code of the current paint job. This color was never a standard option. At some point, while still in Europe, the car must have been repainted in it’s current candy-apple red. It must have been in Europe since no American paint-shop would use stickers with the word “Color” in 3 different (European) languages. It is unlikely that the first (European) owner would have had the car painted only to immediately sell it to someone in America. All this indicates that the car had something of a life in Europe before coming to the USA. Therefore 760 is probably the true mileage since its arrival on the American Shores but it does not include the distance traveled in Europe, before the Miles Per Hour speedometer was put in as part of the federalization process.

This is M1 # 435, needless to say I would appreciate any information...


Parts are an issue. The M1 was made more than 25 years ago, in very limited quantities and with many bespoke elements. BMW does stockpile parts for their offerings of yesteryear. To their credit, I might add.

Even before the ProjectM1 arrived I had ordered a replacement for the “RMFD Control Unit”. It didn’t need replacement but I did marvel at the completeness of the toolkit that came with the ProjectM1.

Case in point is the “RMFD Control Unit” (PartNo 12141304851), a crucial part of the Ignition System, the digital controller made in Italy by Magneti Marelli doesn't exist anymore.
The ProjectM1’s original unit is, unfortunately, not functioning properly. The RealOEM website lists this part as “Ended”. This means that to get a replacement one can not just order one from the factory.
Anybody who knows anything about digital technology will tell you that this is a field where substantial progress was made in the last 25 years. I would therefore choose to replace the old unit with something more modern rather than trying to find somebody that can fix the old one. Google to the rescue! There is a company that makes a modern replacement for the faulty unit in the ProjectM1. If it works I might actually start to believe that Google is worth $690 (December 2007!) per share.
The part I ordered came from Lenz Motorentechnik. They can deliver the updated technology in two ways. They can build the new electronics into the old (Magneti Marelli) box, preserving the original under-bonnet look, or they can send a complete replacement for the original box, that looks, if you squint really hard, almost the same as the original. The replacement seems to have the exact same dimensions as the original. It also has the same type of connectors on each side.
I have received some questions asking me how the Lenz unit performed and untill recently I replied in vague terms, simply because I didn’t know. The first unit I was send back in the spring of 2006 didn’t work at all and –after a quick phonecall to Frau Monika Lenz– found it’s way back to Germany. During the next year and a half I called Frau Lenz every couple of months and witnessed, through these phone calls, what appeared to be a complete redesign of the innards of the Lenz ignition controller. I am happy to report that the unit I received early September 2007 seems to work just fine. I mounted the Lenz replacement in the “Old Lady” and I have had some nice drives, devoid of any problems.
While making my bi-monthly calls to Frau Lenz I was not without doubts. Maybe I would never receive a functioning unit from Lenz Motorentechnik (I am glad to be proven wrong). I tried to come up with a backup plan but I haven’t found any other product that can simply replace the Magneti Marelli ignition control unit while leaving everything else the same.

By now a lot of parts were ordered for the NameLess One. M1 parts are not cheap but prices seem to be in line with the prices for parts of other (exotic) cars. It is amazing how many parts can still be ordered through regular BMW dealerships. Some parts appear to be truly NOS (‘New Old Stock’). This describes items that have (literarily) been sitting on some shelf in some German warehouse for the last 25-30 years. These parts look like they were never used but manufactured many years ago. Other M1-parts ordered from BMW seem to have been made relatively recently. It is my understanding that BMW –through the ‘Mobile Tradition’- will keep producing M1 parts as demand for specific parts accumulates. This is good news for M1 owners; not all parts are available all the time and parts are not especially cheap but BMW seems to genuinely care about its history and is willing to give support to people crazy enough to try and keep old ‘Bimmers’ on the road.

When this Project first got started, I was afraid that some parts, that would be absolutely necessary for the successful restoration of the NameLess One, would just not exist anymore, anywhere. So far, and I hope that I am not upsetting the parts-Gods when saying this, this hasn’t happened.

Where to buy an M1
(note: I have updated the information from the author to provide up to date prices from 2016 for the M1)

The M1 was never officially imported into America. Around 1980, when the M1 could be bought as a new car, one could go to specialized companies that would modify the M1. These modifications were made so the car would be in compliance with EPA and DOT regulations, making it road-legal in the USA. After successful completion of this process, commonly referred to as “federalization”, title and registration would be issued and motoring would soon follow. Needless to say that the final bill (including the costs of buying a M1 in Germany, transportation to the US and the federalization process) was best viewed while sitting down. Magazine articles from that period list a final, bottom-line price of $115,000. When indexed to the Consumer Price Index for 2016 (, this mushrooms into $305,000 worth of 2016 dollars.
Note: According to Hargerty, M1 values in 2016 are around $550,000. Bonhams Auction house value them between $525,00 and $625,000.

Between 1980 and 1990 M1s changed hands for prices that peaked just below $300,000. After 1990 the price drifted down to less than $100,000. The low-point –so far- was probably sometime in the late nineties, when a M1 could be bought for around $70,000.

Today, an unmolested M1 is difficult but not impossible to find. I listed some of the sites that I frequented -while searching for the “Donor”- in the “Related Links” section. Another great resource for anyone who is interested in buying one of these gorgeous pieces of machinery is the M1 Register (

To join the Register, please

For the Vin table:


As the Seventies were about to turn into the Eighties and the M1 could be bought as a new car, would-be owners could choose from 5 different exterior colors. These colors were white, orange, red, blue and gray. I have data for 392 non-Procar M1s and the breakdown of the original colors of these cars looks like this:

(Data from:
White 206 163 road cars + 43 Procars
Dark Blue 207 58 road cars + 2 Procars
Red 208 71 road cars + 1 Procar
Orange 209 98 road cars + 1 Procar
Black 210 3 road cars (4301292, 4301324, 4301326)
Grey 211 4 road cars (4301043, 4301217, 4301218*, 4301291) *for Jochen Neerpasch
Silver metallic 060 2 road cars (4301220*, 4301424) * for Bernie Ecclestone
Unpainted (primer only) 7 Procars

For the other M1s there was either no information available or they were sold with just a coat of primer. The buyer of the car was responsible for the application of the final coat of paint with the color of his/her preference.

When all is said and done, I would like the NameLess One to look like it just came rolling out of the factory. When a car is completely stripped it can obviously be repainted in any color but to keep the original, factory look I wanted to pick one of these 5 standard colors. With only 0.77% of the total production finished in gray, it was definitely not the most popular option. Although not the most popular I think it is the most beautiful.

The paint for the M1 was manufactured by a company called Glasurit (a subsidiary of BASF) and the gray color had code 211. The formulas for white, orange, red and blue are readily available, directly from the factory (Mfr : BMW, Model : M1 -> Start Search). The exact formula for code 211 paint has unfortunately been lost. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to Wolfgang Melter who arranged for a headlight of one of the original gray M1s –currently in France- to be send to a laboratory where its color was analyzed and captured in a formula. In Milwaukee, this formula was used to mix the paint that will be used on the NameLess One.

It is a dark, non-metallic paint that will hopefully look understated and stylish on the NameLess One.

A Female Perspective

Most people I know think I am completely nuts for spending sizable amounts of time and money on a project like this. The home front, sadly, is not exactly an exception. On average, males seem to slightly more understanding of my particular type of folly than females. I’ve even heard some guys mumble that they would be interested in something similar but that ‘the wife’ would never agree to it. I was thinking that it might be interesting to ask my gorgeous and very understanding bride to contribute something to this site. This is what she came up with:

I should have seen it coming. His nostalgic tale of toil working on his first (used) car – a white Fiat Ritmo* legendary for its inability to run. His pride in the first new car he ever purchased – a VW GTI**. I was marrying an auto enthusiast and, perhaps more specifically, a driving enthusiast. Little did I know of the boyhood dream to someday replace that Fiat with a BMW M1.

When the first M1 was delivered I could see in my husband’s eyes all the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas day. I’m not what you’d call a car enthusiast. I like a nice lumbering SUV with a cushy ride, enough room for the kids and all that goes with them, and a bird’s eye view of all the other vehicles on the road. Don’t even get me started about manual transmission except to say that in one foiled attempt to learn it I managed to shift gears once and that was a major ordeal. Horsepower and high style are not on my agenda. I went for a spin in the M1 (as a passenger) and, try as I might, could not see the appeal of sitting 6 inches above the pavement with an engine roaring mere centimeters from the back of my skull. My husband drove gleefully. I counted myself lucky that I wasn’t the one in our household referred to as “The Old Lady.”

When “Project M1” came about I had already been fully indoctrinated into classic car ownership. How difficult original parts were to locate. How tricky passing emissions testing could be. How to match a paint shade that hasn’t been produced in decades. And, of course, how to drive to and from “The Werkshop”. As my husband says “everyone needs a hobby.” I’m glad my husband is lucky enough to indulge his and, as long as he doesn’t give me a hard time about how many pairs of shoes I own, I suppose I shouldn’t give him a hard time about his cars....

*marketed as the “Strada” in the US; I owned the 55hp diesel version, when I started to drive it, it was close to 10 years old and very, very rusty.
**the six cylinder one; a Mark 3 VR6, I loved that car.

The WerkShop

I’ve been going to the WerkShop with the Old Lady for some time now and I was always very impressed with the wonderful restoration work done there. It is truly amazing how they can take an old, rusty car and turn it into something immaculate, pristine and mechanically sound; something that is better than what it was when it was brand new. I’ve been thinking about asking Don Dethlefsen, the proprietor of the WerkShop, to start a restoration for me since I first walked through his door. Naturally, the question of the make and model of the project car was an important one. I couldn’t think of any car more worthy of the WerkShop’s tender loving care than the M1. This is how, even though I already had one of these objects d'art sitting in my garage, I ended up buying another one.

I wish I had the talent and skill to do the work myself. But alas, much like Antonio Salieri, I just understand enough to be able to recognize the gift in others. My role in this process will focus on writing checks and it will be Tom Kelly (l) and Don Dethlefsen (r), posing in front of the NameLess M1 that is the subject of this website, who will be doing the actual work.

Owner: Michael Marijanovic

The Werk Shop
729 E. Park Ave. (Rt. 176)
Libertyville, IL 60048

(847) 295.3200 Telephone
(847) 615.9375 Fax
Hours of operation:
Monday - Friday | 8:00am - 6:00pm


Test Drive of the M1 by Car and Driver (December 1981 issue)
The Roadgoing M1, The M is for Magnificent.

— Csaba Csere

When you drive around in a BMW M1, you’d better know everything there is to know about the car. At every stop you’ll be besieged by open-mouthed car freaks, drawn like moths to a flame by the legendary Bavarian ultracar.

The M1 is truly forbidden fruit. It was never officially exported to the U.S., and the total run was but 430 units. Even the semiclandestine specialty importer-certifiers haven’t smuggled in many of them. So when Alan Hardy and Tom Schwartz drove up in one for us to test, we knew the Car and Driver staff’s long years of collective clean living had finally paid off. Our M1 was dressed in virgin white and European trim, as yet unsullied by federal safety and emissions regulations. After our test, however, it would be deflowered by Hardy & Beck in Berkeley, California, then delivered to an eagerly waiting customer of Schwartz’s BMW Store in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the sum of $115,000.

Even those who don’t recognize the M1 know it is no ordinary chariot. It’s as aggressive-looking as anything you’re likely to see on the road, standing less than 45 inches high, spanning about 72 inches in width, and gripping the pavement with four squat Pirelli P7s set at the car's extreme flanks. Its basic shape is certainly attractive, but the overriding theme is function. The M1's body is an aerodynamically efficient envelope wrapped around the velocity-generating hardware and the requisite two-passenger space. It’s executed in fiberglass to a remarkably high standard. There’s nary a ripple or wave in any of the panels and they fit as though lasered from a single molding.

A similar theme is carried through to the interior. The basic design could be characterized as ultimate kit car: a flat instrument panel and basically simple shapes formed by several small pieces. While most kit-car interiors would shame J.C. Whitney himself, the BMW’s insides are beautifully turned out. The dashboard, binnacle, console and door pockets are carefully fitted and upholstered in hand-stitched leather. The balance of the interior is finished in muted black-checked cloth and gray wool carpeting. Considering the extremely limited production run, this was a very sensible approach.

The driving position is surprisingly upright for such a low-slung car. Although your legs lie virtually parallel to the floor, and aimed inboard slightly to clear the wheel wells, your torso sits comfortably sedan-vertical. From this position, all of the controls are an easy reach, and visibility is excellent except for the rear quarters. Even the engine louvers, which are initially annoying, seem to fade into near transparency with time. The controls themselves are designed for easy operation rather than for visual affectation. A perfect example is the steering wheel. It’s a classic three-spoke design with a thick, resilient rim and finger notches for good grip. But rather than a central horn button away from your grip, there’s a thumb-accessible button in each spoke that you can use without compromising control of the wheel.

This carefully conceived control connects to the best steering we’ve ever encountered in a street car. It’s very direct, suitably light, unaffected by speed (in sharp contrast to 911 Porsche steering), and volubly communicative about the intimate relationship between the front tires and pavement. There is some kickback, but it’s a small price to pay for unadulterated steering information.

At higher speeds, the aerodynamics deserve some of the credit for this performance, for the M1 remains firmly, placidly pressed to the pavement. Not only is the lift minimal, but our coast-down tests indicate that the M1’s aerodynamic drag is low as well. We measured but 7.5 hp required to overcome aerodynamic forces at 50 mph. The Ferrari Boxer, a car with almost identical frontal area, needs 10 hp, fully a third more, to push its less efficient shape through the air.

The ability to cleave the wind smoothly makes an engine’s job a lot easier, but in the M1’s case, this is just icing on an already rich cake. The M1 is propelled by a full-race 3.5-liter six, detuned for street use. But only the calibration was softened, not the hardware. The 24 valves, the chain-driven double-overhead cams, the dry-sump lubrication system, the crankshaft-triggered ignition system, the timed mechanical fuel injection feeding six individual throttles, and the tuned steel-tube headers, with the biggest pipes this side of a big-block Chevy, still remain. The net output from this primo machinery is 266 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

This is enough from the 211-cubic-inch straight six to rocket-sled the 3000-pound BMW to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, to 100 mph in the next 8 seconds, and to 130 in only 26.3 seconds. The surge continues all the way to the redline in fifth gear, or 161 mph. These fiercesome exercises are accompanied by subdued, but genuine, race-tuned sound ef*fects. An intake moan dominates at lower revs, reaching a peak, along with the torque, at 5000 rpm, beyond which the exhaust's snarl takes over. Despite the heroic specific power output of 80 hp per liter, the M1 pow*erplant is totally happy at low speed, and is content to putter around without complaint. This domesticated race engine puts most street engines to shame in both output and temperament, although admittedly it is unconstrained by American emissions and fuel*-economy considerations.

A similar race-converted-to-street strategy was used for the M1's chassis. The basic un*derpinnings—unequal-length control arms, gas shocks, and anti-sway bars front and rear—were laid out for the Group 4, 470-hp, gumball-slick version of the car. When BMW's engineers made it streetable, they didn't have to worry about handling and sta*bility—they had it in spades. They could con*centrate on adding comfort and refinement.

These efforts were unequivocally success*ful. The M1 handles as well as any street car we've driven. Its responses are immediate, direct, and without distortion. So effortless is its control that one can quickly assume that it has virtually no cornering limits. This is a mistake, as I discovered when I spun the M1 on a marble-infested entry ramp. The actual limit is 0.82 g. Certainly an excellent figure, but not as stellar as we expected. The limita*tion is probably the rubber. The M1 's Pirelli P7s are no larger than a 400-pound-lighter Porsche 911’s. That the M1 outcorners said Porsche is a tribute to its suspension and su*perior chassis layout, but its cornering power could benefit from larger tires.

Larger rubber would increase unsprung weight, however, and might adversely affect the M1's excellent ride. It's firm, to be sure, but there's sufficient and supple travel to avoid the bottoming crashes and general harshness that plague most hypercars.

The M1's only real faults are niggling ones. The ZF transaxle, with its slightly skewed pattern, requires concentration and muscle to shift quickly. The same applies to the accelerator, which strains against the multifarious return springs and the mechani*cal friction inherent in a gang of six throttles. Combined with somewhat light brake effort, this makes heel-and-toe shifting a touchy proposition.

But these are mere trifles. The M1 is the absolute pinnacle of hyperfast street cars. Its overdoses of power and handling and responsiveness are suitably tempered by com*fortable accommodation and a civilized ride. If a gentled-down race car can be made this good, then all the other ultracar builders are going about it from the wrong end.

The Racing M1: Nosebleeds here, no charge.

—Larry Griffin

David Cowart brought German thunder to Ann Arbor the other day. We had him take it out of its trailer so we could hook up the technical department's electronic testing thingies to it, and then he got into it and made the pavement wrinkle up. The racing M1 has 200 more horsepower and 500 less pounds than your everyday, milquetoast street M1. The racing M1 also has enough heart to rip off the second-fastest-zero-to-six*ty time we've ever recorded.

But that's only part of what we were after. The BMW racer has been oft maligned as a sort of halfway car, not quite good enough at anything to make racers sit up and take note. This year's IMSA GTO competition has put an end to such piffle.

Near season's end, David Cowart had run off a string of seven straight wins, a second, and two more wins, thus knocking off the GTO championship. With this little detail at*tended to, he plugged in endurance-event co-driver Kenper Miller for the remainder of the races in an attempt to become the first drivers ever to wind up a year first and sec*ond overall in points won with the same car. So Miller won at Road Atlanta.

Their racer has a lot of miles on it. Built in 1979 for the slam-bang rigors of the Procar series, it was first run by BMW of Italy, and Cowart says, "We bought it through BMW Motorsports, and they took it back and fresh*ened it up. With import duties and every* thing, the car ran us about $70,000. We bought a spare engine for 35 grand, a trans*porter, and all the corners [spare suspension units], and we made molds of the body so we could do our own pieces, including an easy * off, one-piece nose. Each engine rebuild runs us from twelve to sixteen thousand dollars, so they're not cheap to run, except consider*ing the life we're getting. We put a fresh en*gine in for Atlanta and won the next five races with it, over 25 sprint-racing hours, and it was still pullin' like Jack the Bear when we finally pulled it out."

The race engine is a more highly tuned version of the DOHC, four-valve-per-cylin*der M1 street engine, itself a derivative of the healthy single-cam BMW six used in 5-, 6-, and 7-series production cars. The race motor is much like the race car in that it carries no magical hidden sources for its strengths, just an abundance of engineering development. Since the street car was planned to be more than a shadow of the racer, it follows that the racer won't confuse anybody who's taken a close look at the production version.

The chassis is made up of the same boxed tubing, but reinforced, and gusseted in the middle by a modest roll cage. The suspen*sion is modified for lower ride height, racing tires, stiffer springs, beefier shock absorbers, and several choices of anti-sway bars, but the layout remains the same, a classic unequal* length-control-arm design with coil springs, the stuff of all up-to-date racing cars.

The steering is quickened from 3.1 turns to 2.0 turns for the racer, and its wheels and tires front and rear are almost 50 percent wider. A big air dam, bulky flares, and a chunky wing aid roadholding and high-speed stability, but the wide flares do bad things for air management. As tested, the drag on the racer from both aerodynamic and frictional losses is up a surprising 50 percent.

In his reverie on the regular M1, Csaba Csere makes reference to the smallness of the P7 tires in relation to the weight of the car. Its balance is good, but ultimate adhe*sion is something less than extraordinary for a mid-engined car with a good suspension. The race car's big Goodyears take care of that, cornering force jumping substantially, from 0.82 g to 1.15 g.

BMW increased braking capability by up*sizing to a set of calipers and rotors that look as if they could panic-stop the biggest Peter*bilt from Mach I. The ATE brakes are wider and more than an inch larger in diameter than the roadgoing models, and they balance well enough with the mid-engined weight distribution to pull the GTO winner down from 70 to a full stop in just 164 feet.

The balance of the race car is good enough that Cowart says, "When I first drove it, it was comfortable, but in retrospect it was probably too comfortable, because we didn't really start going fast until this year. There seems to be a threshold. You get up to it and feel like you're going to lose the car, but if you just keep pushing, you go over the threshold and then you run up to the second one. You just keep your foot in it. Of course, we’ve exceeded the second plateau a couple of times. . . .”

Cowart’s laid-back Florida drawl bends around the edges of his bearded smile. At 39, he is as loose as you might expect a successful Sun Belt stockbroker to be. He commanded a navy boat crew in Vietnam, and he disappears on non-IMSA weekends to a second life as a full commander in the naval reserve. His abilities as a businessman landed the M1’s Red Lobster Restaurants sponsorship, a mutually profitable arrangement that will grow to cover the added expense of a full campaign in the GTP category next year. David Cowart seems to engender respect, and he regards those around him with circumspect good humor.

A question about the transparent fluid reservoirs that crew chief Jack Deren has perched at window level in the M1’s cockpit brings a smile.

"First of all, you have to realize that Jack was under the tutelage of Rube Goldberg for a number of years, so you'll see some things on the car that you'll never see on anybody else's. Actually, they work very well. The brake-fluid reservoirs are up there because in long races we keep our eye on the level of the fluid, and it indicates pad wear. Which turned out to be an academic feature anyway, because pad wear turned out to be not a fac*tor in this car. You can run the whole twelve hours at Sebring on the same set of brake pads."

Cowart looks around to see if Deren is within earshot.

"Did you notice that long retractable cord that goes all the way across the dashboard? Well, that's his way of keeping the radio wire from wrapping around the steering. It's one of those retractable-key-chain things!"

Rube Goldberg may not have known about race cars, but Deren obviously does. If the team's recent record wasn't proof enough, our performance readouts confirmed it.

The furiously responsive and usable 3.5-liter engine fires its 2500-pound wedged housing from a standing start to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds with the perfect normally aspi*rated combination of drivability, gearing, and traction. Though it has lower ultimate horsepower and greater weight than, say, the JLP Racing Porsche 935, the Red Lobster M1 gets off the line so cleanly and accelerates so strongly at the lower end of its range that it beats the 935 to 60 by 1.5 seconds and it's only a half-second slower than Teo Fabi's much lighter, higher-powered, Can-Am March. The M1 has an advantage in elapsed time over the 935 at the end of the quarter*-mile, 11.6 seconds versus 12.3, but the Porsche is coming alive with a 136-mph trap speed as the M1 is slipping back at 122 mph. The street M1 rips off its own 5.4-second zero-to-sixty run and a quarter-mile in 13.7 at 102 mph, no slouch, but isn't it wonderful what an extra 200 horsepower and a quarter*-ton weight reduction have done for David Cowart?

As you finish this M1 trilogy, be a little huffy with BMW for not continuing the M1, but give them credit for giving Neerpasch his head in the first place. And keep your eye out for the new Alpina-built version of the BMW M1. Don’t stop dreaming dreams.

More videos on the M1:

BMW period video of its Procar M1:

Modern review of the M1:

Beautifully shot video from Petrolicious:

Great sounding M1 Procar onboard video:

Photos of the M1 (not the restored car)

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1981 323i, 143 Kashmir-Metallic, 0094 Pergament, Sports M5, LSD.
Appreciate 3
      01-06-2017, 12:07 AM   #2
Paul-Bracq-BMW's Avatar

Drives: 1981 323i, sports M5, LSD
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Australia

iTrader: (0)

Restoration timeline part 1

Since there is a limitation of pics in one thread, I'll post the restoration timeline in 2 parts.

Here's part one:

Restoration Timeline

Saturday, February 25, 2006 — The soon to be perfect M1 will be shipped this weekend. It will take 5 to 7 days for the “Donor” to arrive from Fort Lauderdale (FL) in the Chicago land area.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006— The Eagle has landed. The for now NameLess M1 that is the subject of this website has arrived. She was delivered to the WerkShop last Sunday. I posted some pictures of this joyous event.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006— Nothing much has happened after the initial excitement of the purchase and the delivery of the Nameless M1 that is the subject of this website. A lot of parts were ordered and I’ve been sending out emails in an effort to find out about previous owners and who was responsible for the current, custom paintjob.

Sunday, May 7, 2006— Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Overhaulin’ or Monster Garage knows that the first step in any project is the “Teardown”. ProjectM1 is no exception. The “Teardown” is also the only stage in the process that I could have done myself (without any hope of ever putting her back together of course).

The poor Nameless One is receiving some tough love, WerkShop style. No more wheels or suspension and the rusted out fuel tanks are sitting underneath her on the floor.
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The suspension settings can be changed by using the different mounting points in these brackets.
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The gigantic M88 engine, for now still mounted in the frame.
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The ZF transaxle gearbox, mounted upside down to enhance the weight distribution. The frame is dirty but seems structurally sound.
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The Nameless One is showing a strange mix of building styles. The hinge for the headlight (the silvery piece of metal with the three holes in it) is hefty enough to hoist an small elephant up and down...
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...but the corner of the frame is patched with a strip of metal flimsy enough to be used as a wrapper for a piece of gum.
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The front, prepped and ready for ‘media’ (not sand, media) blasting.
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No place to sit, unless you like to sit on some hoses and wiring.
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Saturday, May 27, 2006— The Teardown phase on Monster Garage usually only takes a few hours. In real life it can take a couple of weeks. The NameLess One is now very close to completely disassembled. Check out these pictures. The engine came out of the frame and the NameLess One has been reduced to a shell.

M88-489, clearly still in the frame. This is a nice illustration of how close the driver is to the engine (literally inches).

Engine 489 and chassis 435 are separated for the first time in more than 25 years.
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I wonder what percentage of the mass of a M1 is taken up by the engine and transmission.
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One of only about 600 ever made, the 3.5 liter straight 6 is pure BMW.
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There is a lot of material that will push forward like a freight train in case of a high speed frontal crash. (Note to self : don’t crash the M1)
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Header looks like a bowl of spaghetti.
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The rig had to be reengineered to pry the engine out of its shell.
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This is the place where the engine used to be….
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...but now the mighty M88 (number 489) is sitting on the WerkShop floor.
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Sunday, June 25, 2006— The M1 that is the subject of this site (the NameLess One) was probably never happier that she was taken out of the barn where she spend the Nineties and the first part of the current millennium. In fact I am sure she is having a blast….

This was the last opportunity to see the ProjectM1 (aka the NameLess One) in her candy apple red color. The tape is there in preparation for the next painful step….

Maybe this isn’t such a bad color after all….
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Too late! Candy apple red no more. Resistance is futile; prepare to be assimilated. The poor NameLess One is mercilessly bombarded with tiny pieces of plastic.
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Both the glass fiber body and the tubular frame are completely stripped.
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It is very painful to see, the paintjob could not be in worse shape.
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This is as bad as it is going to be, from this day forth the NameLess One will be climbing out of the abyss she was disrespectfully thrown into.
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Friday, August 18, 2006— It’s been quite a while since the last update and a lot of things happened in the mean time. The engine has been completely disassembled, all individual parts have been either cleaned and revitalized or replaced with NOS parts. Apart from some gaskets (most notably the head-gasket) everything is ready to be put together again. The body of the NameLess One is in Milwaukee. The shop works a lot on hotrods so there is a lot of experience with glass fiber. I had the opportunity to visit them last Monday (August 14th) and I took some pictures...

A glimpse of things to come… M88-489 was entirely disassembled, anything that consists of more than one single piece of metal was taken apart. The individual parts were all inspected and subsequently cleaned and revitalized or replaced. All the big pieces were bead-blasted down to bare metal and refinished. This is just the shell of the engine, no pistons, connecting rods or crankshaft yet, but it gives a nice picture of what the engine will look like after Tom Kelly at the WerkShop is done with it.
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This is a nice illustration of why I like the restorations by the WerkShop so much. This is one of the mounts that at some point will be used to put the engine back in the frame. When the NameLess One is done it will be impossible to actually see this motor mount. The part is still bead blasted and refinished, despite this lack of visibility. All parts receive the same treatment and R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
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The headers are ready to be used. They are finished with some space-age paint, not chrome. This backed-on varnish is guaranteed to keep its color, even after it is heated over and over again.
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I am not sure if it should be mounted on the engine or mounted on a wall…
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All the original bolds, screws, washers etc where cleaned and replated.
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The oil tank –with dipstick– is as good as new.
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Intake muffler is as good as new.
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6*4=24 valves. Two clean, 22 to go. All valves were –eventually– cleaned and machined for an optimal fit in their respective slots in the head.
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The cylinder head, ready to be rebuild. Extensive notes were taken to keep track of the length of the valves with the corresponding shims.
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The engine is old in years but has seen very little miles. All cylinders were perfectly round again after some mild honing. With 6 new pistons, slightly bigger than the previous ones, it will be as close as one can get to a new M88 power plant without a time-traveling device.
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6 NOS pistons, ready to be installed. What a beautiful sight.
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6 connecting rods, not new but close enough.
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The heart of the M88 engine; the crankshaft. No refinishing was necessary, this is what it looked like when it first came out of the engine.
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Material was taken from the journal offsets in the factory to perfectly balance the crankshaft, this was done manually; no two offsets are the same. The journals themselves are hollow, undoubtedly to save weight.
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Assembly of the engine is going forward with great strides; everything still fits...
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I honestly think I will be too intimidated to actually drive the NameLess One when everything is done...
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Sunday, September 10, 2006— No great update this time; I posted some additional pictures of the assembly of the motor and added a background story on the birth of the M1. More to follow….

After the frame was stripped, the metal was almost eerily gray.
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The gray metal was quickly covered with a two component polymer paint to keep rust at bay.
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This is what she looked like on Monday August 14th, 2006. I had the opportunity to visit the body shop in Milwaukee (WI). Their extensive experience with hotrods ensures a lot of expertise when it comes to working with glass fiber. Over the next 4 months (or so) they will correct all imperfections and give the NameLess One a jaw-dropping, killer paintjob.
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From left to right : My dad (on a visit and interested in the proceedings), Tom Franecki (who will be spearheading the efforts related to the NameLess One at the body shop), Bob Bennett and Don Dethlefsen (the proprietor of the WerkShop).
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Saturday, October 14, 2006 — These are, as Tom Kelly -the master BMW mechanic- put it, the dog-days of the project. Nothing much seems to be happening and it will stay this way until the body comes back from Milwaukee. ‘Seems’ is the operative word in the previous sentence because a lot of work is being done. All parts of the Nameless One are blasted and refinished with a special two-component veneer that will keep the underlying metal solid until the end of time. The VF gearbox will be serviced by RBT Transmissions in California while the Kugelfischer pump is being rebuild locally. The idea is that there will be a big pile of parts and sub-assemblies that are ready to be mounted on the NameLess One as soon as the body is back in the WerkShop.

Here is another picture of the engine, with Tom Kelly standing next to it to give a sense of proportion. This is a massive motor. Tom is over 7 feet tall.
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Sway bars, brake booster, cross members, everything is cleaned, bead blasted and refinished with the magic two-component veneer. Not even the Germans had this stuff back in 1980. The NameLess One will be better than new.
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A new clutch for the NameLess One. The M1 clutch works with two plates that grab both sides of the ‘Intermediate Ring’. All these parts are still available from BMW. There are two part numbers for the two plates even though they look identical.
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Some nasty stuff is being used to clean the calipers. ‘Acido Muriatico’, 31.45%. The fumes gave me the black lung but the calipers look like new again.
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These are the finished calipers, ready to be used.
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The brakes themselves were cleaned, bead blasted and refinished with two component veneer. The areas where the pads will actually touch the brakes were machined back down to bare metal.
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Anything can be bead blasted into a ‘like new’ condition, even these rubbers that, like the pictured mounts, are part of the transmission suspension.
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There it is, the ZF-Synchroma Gearbox 5 DS 25/2, ready to be shipped to RBT Transmissions.
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Shocks and suspension parts, better than new...
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The yellow is the correct, original color. All parts are incredibly beefy.
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Saturday, December 30, 2006— The waiting is not yet over; the body is still in Milwaukee. In the light of 20/20 hindsight the blasting doesn’t appear to be such a great idea anymore. The process of stripping the old paint using the media blaster also destroyed a lot of the lines that visually define the car. Tom Franecki had to spend a lot of time recreating these lines. The key to a great paintjob is much more in the preparation than in the painting itself and the preparation is almost over. I visited Bob Bennett in Milwaukee last Thursday to see the progress they are making and to show them the Old Lady so they could see where the color is supposed to end and where the black trim begins…

Much of the lines that visually define the shape of the M1, like the ones that can be seen running down the hood on either side of the louvers and the line that runs up the A-pillar and along the edge of the roof, disappeared when blasting was used to strip the old paint. A lot of time had to be spend to bring those lines back.
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The glass fiber surrounding the ventilation slats was cracked in many places as a result of numerous heating/cooling cycles due to the use of the engine below. It was all painstakingly repaired.
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The sculpting, brushing and sanding in preparation of the actual painting of the car is close to done; the painted body is due back in “The WerkShop” at the end of January.
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Here we can see Bob Bennett going the extra mile; on the street during a Wisconsin December studying The Old Lady to see where the body color ends and the black trim begins.
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The Nameless M1 that is the subject of this web site is not my first. This honor goes to the Old Lady.
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1981 323i, 143 Kashmir-Metallic, 0094 Pergament, Sports M5, LSD.
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      01-06-2017, 12:14 AM   #3
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Restoration Timeline part 2

Sunday, January 14, 2007— Happy New Year! The schedule still calls for the return of the body to Chicago land at the end of this month. The last major sub-assembly that needed work is the ZF transaxle gearbox…

It will be difficult/impossible to see all this automotive bling once it is back in the NameLess One. All parts are getting the same treatment, visible or not; the WerkShop is really setting the standard…
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The complete transaxle ready to be installed...
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Saturday, May 26th, 2007— It wasn’t in January, February, March or April. The shell came back in May, but only just. If you would walk up to me and tell me that “Perfection takes time” I might just punch you in the mouth. It might be true though, this new paintjob looks pretty good. I posted some pictures…

People who know infinitely more about car paint than myself are very impressed with the way everything worked out. I am overjoyed to see her back in the WerkShop.
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I love the way the grey contrasts with the black trim.
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These pictures don’t do the paintjob justice, I simply can’t wait to see the NameLess One back on the road. I think it’s cool.
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As a Driving Machine, the NameLess One will be even more ultimate when the Campagnolo wheels move from my garage to underneath her fenders...
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The Campagnolo wheels were designed specifically for the M1. They were never used on another model. At some point I will have to decide if I should try to find a set of these for the projectM1, probably impossible to do, or if I should go with another option; maybe some nice BBS wheels with slightly lower profile tires.
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They are still out there; NOS Campagnolo wheels. Finding them turned out to be the exact opposite of “impossible to do”.
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Sunday, December 16th, 2007 — It has been quite awhile since the last update. This is partly due to the fact that Tom Kelly –the master BMW mechanic– has not been working on the Project without interruption. Another factor contributing to the lack of updates lies in the fact that the progress that has been made in the last couple of months is difficult to show in pictures. A lot of wires and hoses had to be snaked back into place for instance. This is of course very important but visually not spectacular. I am happy to report that the end of the Project is in sight (as is the second anniversary of the start of ProjectM1). I posted some more pictures… I received a few eMails asking about my experience with the modern replacement for the Magneti Marelli Ignition Controller made by Lenz Motorentechnik. I finally reached some conclusions.

Different parts are slowly added to -once again- complete the NameLess One...
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All the front needs to be completed is the battery...
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A combination of modern materials was selected to replace the old sound deadening matter in the cockpit. It should be lighter and perform better. The modern stuff also doesn’t have the moldy smell.
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Almost ready for the new upholstery...
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A little jewel (the famed Kugelfischer pump), completely rebuild and detailed.
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Mounted back on the engine...
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The front suspension is back in, prompting this nice ‘before and after’ comparison.
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Brakelines, cooling, air, electrical, all is back in place, ready to receive the engine and gearbox.
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One of the 2 gas tanks with fuel filter and pump
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Sunday, April 27th, 2008 — Four months since the last update, ProjectM1 is getting closer and closer to its conclusion. I posted some pictures to show the current state of affairs. It was a big moment when the engine and gearbox made their return to their rightful place...

After reassembling the engine, the engine and gearbox are reunited, ready to return home...
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That is about where it has to go, just a few feet to the left...
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Softly, softly, catchee monkey.
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Home at last.
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Sunday, August 16th, 2008 — One of the biggest last hurdles was the upholstery. This step took longer then expected due to serious health issues of the upholsterer. Fortunately, these problems proved surmountable and ProjectM1 could move forward. Isaac, we never met but I wish you all the best. You do amazing work.

Custom made carpets.
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I am 6’2’’ so every inch counts to give myself a comfortable position in the M1. The rails that give the seats fore and aft adjustment can easily be eliminated, resulting in an additional 1 to 1.5 inch headroom.
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Massive amounts of cables and hoses (including A/C) snake through the middle console
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The seats were the last elements to be finished. The fabric for the gray cloth inserts is still available from BMW.
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Not much in terms of frilly nonsense. Me Likey.
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Door panels were the last element to go in.
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Sunday, November 9th, 2008 — Its has been a looong time since the last update. I am very happy to report that ProjectM1 has come to a very successful end.

Tom send me the following eMail on Monday, October 13, 2008: The door is open and #435 awaits your arrival on Saturday for delivery. .... As you can see, the door panel is on, and I've solved the light above the radio issue. ….. Otherwise, it's been an interesting project and we thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you what we can do at the Werkshop. I think it's safe to say you now have the finest M1 in the world. I suspect if you put it side by side with a brand new one, it would look every bit as good, and better in many areas. I like the “finest M1 in the world” bit. I wouldn’t make a claim like that myself but I feel it is OK to quote Tom. It is my plan to add glamour shots of NameLess with some Chicago landmarks as a backdrop as soon as weather clears up. This might be awhile since it is November and it is Chicago. Here are a few pictures of the finished product none the less.
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Compare with the car when it arrived...
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1981 323i, 143 Kashmir-Metallic, 0094 Pergament, Sports M5, LSD.
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      01-06-2017, 12:08 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Paul-Bracq-BMW View Post
Since there is a limitation of pics in one thread, I'll post the restoration timeline in 2 parts.
Welcome to my world!

Such a great thread!! Love these old M1's. Thanks for posting another wonderful thread Paul.

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      01-06-2017, 12:09 PM   #5
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Did I miss something?

The M1 looked like it was in great condition originally.....why would you tear that thing down?
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      01-06-2017, 06:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jpnh
Did I miss something?

The M1 looked like it was in great condition originally.....why would you tear that thing down?
You did: wrong non standard colour, wrong wheels and overall tired condition. The rebuild made the car better than new, with a Ferrari in of a rare grey colour. See timeline thread for the engine for example, it's a piece of art!
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      02-24-2017, 09:22 AM   #7
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I am absolutely boggled.. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine what all of that cost to bring her back! For all of my car love, I am no gear head, but even then.. holy crap that motor and all of the components brought back to life but then even better.

Just.. wow.. I am truly impressed.
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      02-24-2017, 09:37 AM   #8
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They did an awesome job. So much dedication and hard work went into that car!
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      02-24-2017, 10:32 AM   #9
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Wowzers! That's how you do a restore!
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      02-24-2017, 11:02 AM   #10
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Why go through all the trouble to strip the paint and then leave the inside portion of the door untouched?
2003 11/02 Steel Gray Metallic on Red M3 - SMGII - VF570 - SUPERSPRINT - KW - BBS - CSL ROOF SOLD
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      02-24-2017, 11:24 AM   #11

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Wonderful thread. All of it!
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      02-24-2017, 11:40 AM   #12
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I loved and enjoyed reading every single paragraph in this thread. I am blown away by the amount of detail in every part of the restoration. You are living the dream as a car enthusiast!
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      02-24-2017, 11:50 AM   #13

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A quality post! Thanks for sharing!
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      02-24-2017, 12:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by raichean View Post
I am absolutely boggled.. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine what all of that cost to bring her back! For all of my car love, I am no gear head, but even then.. holy crap that motor and all of the components brought back to life but then even better.

Just.. wow.. I am truly impressed.
Yeah but this is not just any car, its a M1 and they are worth a big pile of money today. So even if you invest a bit you will get it back and even more. And I am sure that the values are going further up in the next years.

@OP: Congrats on the great restoration - I would love to go on a drive with this
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      02-24-2017, 12:09 PM   #15
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Great thread!

Thanks for sharing.
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      02-24-2017, 12:55 PM   #16
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Great post..awesome car restoration. I'm no fan of that gray with the other choices to choose from. As the books state there were only 4 in that there's 5 which will always put an asterisk on the car..sooooooo I think I would have put it back to the original color. His money though .
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      02-24-2017, 02:47 PM   #17
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Amazing build and turn out! Thanks for posting.

Am I on the only one that found themselves continually commenting.. ..yeahhh, that looks cheap!
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      02-24-2017, 03:34 PM   #18
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Subscribed. Have a real soft spot for these cars:

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      02-24-2017, 04:01 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by greekcs View Post
Why go through all the trouble to strip the paint and then leave the inside portion of the door untouched?
Some owners like to leave parts of their cars as before (usually the hidden ones), to leave some history of the car...
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      02-24-2017, 04:05 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by tom @ eas View Post
Subscribed. Have a real soft spot for these cars:

No need to subscribe. I found this amazing restoration story when I was doing some research on the M1 and I thought it would be great to share it with the Bimmerpost community...
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      02-24-2017, 04:07 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by CalCarNut View Post
Great post..awesome car restoration. I'm no fan of that gray with the other choices to choose from. As the books state there were only 4 in that there's 5 which will always put an asterisk on the car..sooooooo I think I would have put it back to the original color. His money though .
The gray was a very special bespoke color only used on cars made for the BMW executives. That's why the owner decided on that special color.
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      02-24-2017, 04:13 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Gray_Panther View Post
I loved and enjoyed reading every single paragraph in this thread. I am blown away by the amount of detail in every part of the restoration. You are living the dream as a car enthusiast!
Unfortunately, not my car. I wish I purchased one a few years ago when they were still affordable... But a fantastic restoration I wasnted to share with the community...
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