The BMW M1 Procar

A proposed Group 5 'Silhouette Formula' for production-based cars triggered the 'M1' program in the mid-1970s. The chief executive of BMW Motorsport, former racing driver Jochen Neerpasch was responsible for initiating this ambitious project, whose goals included taking on rivals Porsche in the World Sportscar Championship and, ultimately, winning at Le Mans. Development was contracted first to Lamborghini and then to Giorgetto Giugiaro's ItalDesign, although almost all cars ended up being finished in Germany. 

Giugiaro's compact coupé bodywork in fiberglass was wrapped around a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, while a twin-overhead-cam, four-valves-per-cylinder, race-developed version of BMW's 3.5-liter six provided the power. The wedge-shaped coachwork proved highly efficient aerodynamically, needing very little in the way of additional spoilers and wings in race configuration.

By 1977, halfway through the development of the M1, FISA altered the rulebook and decided that 400 cars would have to be built for them to allow the homologation for Group 4 to be upgraded to Group 5. Faced with this problem, BMW Motorsport boss, Jochen Neerpasch used his good contact with Max Mosely and after three gin tonics in a then-popular bar in Munich, the pair spawned the idea of putting the five fastest Formula One drivers from practise in a race against a selection of the very best sports and touring car drivers in virtually identical M1 Procars during Grand Prix weekends. Having convinced Bernie Ecclestone and the Formula 1 world of the idea, the BMW board signed off on the budget to have 25 M1 Procars built for the first race at Zolder in 1979. It was a well organized and ingenious marketing exercise for the brand, all the while increasing the number of M1s being built to reach homologation. The Procar Series was a win-win: the spectators got to find out the answers to the perennially pitched question of whether the result is down to the car or the driver, while BMW garnered more marketing for their company and for the M1 production car.

The reality was that what spectators saw on the track and what could be bought for the road were night and day different. Paul Rosche, BMW’s head of engine development, set to work enhancing the M1’s engine, now given the engine code M88/1. Engine power increased drastically from the standard 273 bhp to over 470 bhp, with the engine pulling more than 9,000 rpm. The transmission, while still within the ZF casing had multiple gear ratios and its own oil cooler. The suspension was all new and had adjustable anti-roll bars. The bodywork saw larger, flared and more aggressive wheel arches, and deeper front splitter and a large rear wing for downforce. The cockpit was completely stripped out, with none of the creature comforts of the road cars, only a sturdy roll cage to protect the driver in its single seat. Honed with precision by its engineers, the total weight came in at 1.000 kg, 360 kg less than the road cars. 

The Procar M1 race series ran for two years, 1979 and 1980, and its enormously high profile is evident from the series Champions of those two seasons – none other than eventual triple-World Champions Niki Lauda (1975-77-84) in 1979 and Nelson Piquet (1981-83-87) in 1980. After BMW had fulfilled the homologation requirements for the M1 to be accepted into World endurance Championship Group 4 competition, the M1 Procars were campaigned by various teams in those frontline events in addition to other national series. Further to European events the M1 Pro-cars dominated the 1981 IMSA GTO series in the USA.

The M1 Procar we are offering

This most attractive and highly collectible BMW competition coupé – production number '23' and chassis number 4301 066 – was first delivered on May 9, 1979 to the Austrian Konrad Racing team. Franz Konrad competed in the first ever Procar Series race at Zolder in Belgium just 3 days later with the M1 wearing number ’88’ and Baumhüter/Minolta sponsorship livery. The race history of 1979 included 10 more outings, Franz Konrad taking seventh place in the hectic Procar-series second round at Monte Carlo during Monaco Grand Prix weekend, seventh in the concurrent German Championship race at the Norisring that June, and ninth at Diepholz in July. The car was also driven by Ralf-Dieter Schreiber (at Zolder) and by 'John Winter' (Le Mans-winning driver Louis Krages) in the German Grand Prix Procar round at Hockenheim (finishing tenth).

In February 1980, the car was sold to Jürgen Kannacher of Krefeld, Germany,  who entered it in the world championship race at Nürburgring (1000 km), several Procar series races as well as the German championship races. During that year the M1 started under Kannacher GT banner with Valvoline sponsors and was mostly driven by Ralf-Dieter Schreiber. In the 1981 season, Jürgen Kannacher competed with his M1 in 14 German Championship races with Number ’77’ and ARAL sponsor, before selling the car to German racing driver Hans Heyer of Wegberg. Under Heyer's ownership, celebrated BMW works driver Dieter Quester drove this car for the GS-Team through 1982, winning the German Grand Prix support race at the Hockenheimring, finishing second in the Jim Clark Memorial meeting at the same circuit, and adding further second places at Hockenheim and the Salzburgring, and thirds at Zolder, the EifelRennen and Norisring. Dieter Quester also won the Hessen Cup race at Hockenheim that August before adding a further second place to this car's fine season record at the Nurburgring in September. Mountain climb specialist Mario Ketterer also drove the car to a victory in the major Ste Ursanne-Les Rangiers event in Switzerland that August. During this final season of the car's active frontline career it was also driven by leading German star Rolf Stommelen at Diepholz. One of the liveries of that season was the striking 'Alpina exclusive Sportbrillen', which the car is presented in today.

The car remained the property of Hans Heyer for 23 years until 2005 at which point it was sold to Christian Traber of Toffen, Switzerland, who embarked on a comprehensive and thorough restoration taking the best part of 3 years and around 300.000 CHF to complete. The superb restoration is well documented and brought the car into fully race prepared condition, as evidenced by an outing at LeMans Classic in 2008. In Early 2012, the car was sold to German collector Mr. Biedermann, who kept in until 2018, at which point it was acquired by the current owner. 

In recent years, the car has been regularly maintained at great cost including a rebuild of the engine, fuel system and suspension performed by M1 Procar speciualist MK Motorsports with all invoices on file. Also included in the file are: The original Wagenpass from 1979, current valid FIA HTP papers, Fia papers from 2007 and other safety equipment inspection conformity certificates, a full listing of the period racing history from 1979 to 1982, pictures and details of recent historic races attended, a huge selection of printed historical/period images showing car in various liverys and a comprehensive photographic record of the restoration.

Said by those in the know to be very tractable and relatively easy to drive in comparison to many Group 4 and IMSA spec cars, the M1 Procars offer the amateur racer a chance to experience a type of car driven by the world's top Formula 1 and endurance drivers in period without having to go down the sometimes rather nerve-racking route of competing in historic Formula 1. For the more  experienced historic racer it provides proven class winning potential.With more top class historic Group 4 and IMSA racing series emerging in both Europe and the USA the M1 Procars are becoming increasing eligible, useable and collectable.

Presented here is a wonderful opportunity to acquire an original BMW M1 Procar with a fine racing history, having been driven by a cross section of Germany's leading endurance racing drivers in period. It has unquestionable provenence, is fully restored to the very highest standards and is eligble for a plethora of world class events.

 

Specifications

  • extensive and well documented race history
  • entered in the 1979 and 1980 Procar series championship
  • raced at 1000 km world championship race at Nürburgring
  • 8 podium finishes with dieter quester in German championship races
  • unquestionable provenance
  • original Wagenpass from 1979
  • restored and maintained by leading M1 procar experts
  • valid FIA paper and race-ready
  • Eligible to world class events
  • Price on request

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