Ten years ago, the 1981 BMW M1 coming up for sale with RM Sotheby’s in a few weeks’ time might have cost you around $150,000.
When the car crosses the block in Monterey on August 19 it’s expected to make between $450k and $600k – around £345k-£460k at current exchange rates.
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There’s nothing remarkable about that – auction prices as a whole have risen consistently for several years now – other than a sneaking suspicion that you’d struggle to buy a brand new car today for the same money that’s quite as desirable as BMW’s 1970s supercar.
On paper, there’s no reason this should be the case. Its M88/1, individual throttle-bodied inline-six produces 273bhp, which was impressive in its day, and results in a top speed of 162mph. There’s a five-speed manual gearbox – a concept alien to buyers of circa-£400k cars these days – and a simple mid-engined, rear-wheel drive layout.
But in terms of rarity – only 453 M1s were ever made – and the timeless Giorgetto Giugiaro styling contribute to a car that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. By the standards of other 1970s supercars its styling is understated, but seeing one as clean as the Inka Orange example coming up for auction is a reminder of just how perfectly proportioned Giugiaro’s shape was.
This particular car sits on its original Campagnolo alloy wheels and both interior and exterior are a testament to the minuscule 12,838 miles it’s covered in the last 35 years.
Naturally, it’s been religiously maintained over that period and the car is in unrestored condition, so there is a hint of patina to belie its history, which includes spells in Italy and Japan.
As with the BMW 2002 Turbo also coming up for sale in Monterey, it’s a car we hope the new owner will feel inclined to enjoy on the road. As the prices of classic cars rise ever upwards, actually driving them becomes more difficult to justify.