BMW M1 Roadster: Now That's Something We Would Have Loved to Drive This Summer

BMW M1 Roadster 3 photos
Photo: Alex Sincan
BMW M1 RoadsterBMW M1 Roadster
As a matter of fact, a real-life conversion of this kind might be technically impossible due to the shape of the tubular steel space-frame structure of the M1 Coupe. Yet, dreaming about it is possible at any time. It's fascinating how, 40 years later, the BMW M1 still looks great and tempting.
We should not forget that its original design bears a famous signature: Giorgetto Giugiaro. Actually, the BMW M1 is a very special sports car because it brings together the very best from the contributing nations: its design is Italian, while the technology is German. Its genesis was one of the most complicated in the field of sports cars. The development of the BMW M1 was initiated because the motorsport division of the Bavarian brand intended to compete in the so-called Group-5 racing (Sports Cars/Special Production Cars).

For the homologation, 400 road-going examples had to be assembled, and BMW couldn’t do it on its own. BMW collaborated with Lamborghini to refine the chassis, the steel space frame structural design was the work of Gianpaolo Dallara, and the fiberglass body was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro. BMW came with the M88 straight-six engine, a 3.5-liter unit with mechanical fuel injection making 273 hp. Finally, the 5-speed manual gearbox was provided by ZF.

Because Lamborghini encountered some serious financial trouble, BMW was forced to take full control of the project in 1978. A new workshop was established about 10 miles (16 km) away from the Lamborghini factory so that a new company, named Italengineering and employing a group of former Lamborghini engineers, could bring the BMW M1 project to fruition.

The fiberglass body of the M1 was manufactured by Italiana Resina in Modena, while the chassis was produced nearby by another Modenese firm, Marchesi. Italdesign (at the time owned by Giorgetto Giugiaro) took care of the completion of the body and the interior near Turin. The partly finished cars were then delivered to German limited series specialist Baur, where final assembly was done by hand. That way, 493 BMW M1s were manufactured between 1978 and 1981. Certainly, none of those was a roadster.
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