The BMW M1 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in the mid-to-late 1970s, taking no small amount of influence from the 1972 BMW Turbo concept car designed by Paul Bracq – also a mid-engined sports car with ground-breaking, futuristic design for the era.

Up until 1978, BMW had never built a mid-engined production car. And after the M1 left production in 1981 BMW wouldn’t mass-produce another mid-engined car until the BMW i8 was released in 2014. This seems like a bit of a shame, because there’s something quite striking about the mid-engined cars that BMW have built – both the concepts and production vehicles.

The original plan for the BMW M1 was to produce it in large enough numbers for racing homologation, Lamborghini was going to build the car under BMW supervision – but Lamborghini’s tenuous financial position at the time lead to delays, and eventually BMW took over the project.

The difficulty in shifting from front to mid-engined engineering was signifiant, so when the team of former Lamborghini engineers that made up Italengineering approached BMW offering to complete the chassis engineering – BMW accepted.

The production run of the M1 began in Italy, the cars were then shipped to Baur in Stuttgart who fitted the drive train and other hardware. After this they were shipped to BMW Motorsports in Munich who finished the cars and gave them a final inspection.

Each M1 was fitted with the DOHC M88/1 3.5 liter 6-cylinder petrol engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection and 6 individual throttle bodies. In stock trim the engine produces 273 hp and is capable of pushing the mid-engined BMW to a top speed of 162 mph.

Over the course of the model’s production run just 399 road and 56 race cars were completed, today they’re amongst the most desirable of vintage BMWs and prices at auction have skyrocketed from around the $100,000 mark up to closer to $500,000.

The car you see here was bought by a BMW dealer and kept for a few years before it was sold on to a museum collection in Japan. Since then it’s only covered 12,838 kilometres and it’s now being offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to view the listing.

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Images: Darin Schnabel ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s