If there may be one automotive that’s actually struck a chord with me over my years as a Speedhunter, it’s the BMW M1 Procar.
My first sighting of an M1 Procar is a bit of bit fuzzy in my thoughts to inform you the reality, however I distinctly keep in mind the primary time I ever heard one. It’s not a reminiscence I’ll quickly overlook.
It was 2010, and I used to be on my first press journey to the Nürburgring 24 Hour with KW Suspensions. KW had organized a small group of US auto journalists to attend the race, which I by some means turned part of. I’ve realized that in these cases, it’s higher to remain quiet, hold your head down and simply hope no person realises that you just most likely shouldn’t be there…
It was a typical press journey with excursions, shows, introductions and notably good meals. Whereas among the assembled media have been blissful to soak up as a lot hospitality as potential, I used to be itching to get trackside and shoot something on the Nordschleife. I wasn’t alone. One other photographer who had travelled from California was fairly eager as properly. We had solely beforehand spoken earlier than through the Dieselstation boards, however it didn’t take lengthy for Mr. Klingelhoefer and I to hatch a plan.
Whereas we had been allowed a while to shoot trackside on the primary couple of corners of the GP circuit, you don’t come to the Nürburgring 24 Hour to shoot inside the security and confines of the GP-Strecke. Particularly when you understand what awaits you simply over the hill.
So, when the very form KW public relations particular person was trying the opposite method (sorry), Sean and I jumped right into a media shuttle and principally begged the motive force to take us wherever on the Northern Loop. I don’t assume I even had roaming enabled on my telephone in 2010, so as soon as we left the paddock, we have been basically MIA. Once more, sorry KW.
We lucked it with our driver, who went out of his method and drove us by way of the camps, alongside muddy pathways and introduced us as near the monitor as humanly potential. A lot so, that this was the sight proper in entrance of us once we stepped out of the van. What a solution to be launched to the Nordschleife for the primary time.
We instantly began strolling up the hill from Steilstrecke to the world famend Caracciola-Karussell. What you won’t pay attention to is how distant the Karussell is. It’s not actually close to something of word.
It was whereas strolling up this hill that I heard an M1 Procar at full noise for the primary time. Regardless of there being a full grid of N24 Traditional vehicles on monitor, all of which have been making their very own sensible noises, there was this distinct sound louder than the rest coming in the direction of us.
On reflection, and primarily based on how lengthy it took for the automotive to seem each lap, I reckon we might hear it leaving the village of Adenau on its solution to the Karussell.
Whereas not notably quick when in comparison with the GT3 vehicles working in the principle N24 race, there was nothing competing that weekend which got here near sound this M1 Procar made. In actual fact, wanting V8-era Method One vehicles, I don’t assume there have been any vehicles I’ve photographed since which match the M1 Procar for its aural qualities. I’ve by no means heard a video or audio clip that may do them justice.
For the subsequent few years protecting the occasion, I all the time made some extent of guaranteeing I used to be trackside for the N24 Traditional follow and race classes to soak up no matter Procars may need been competing.
But it surely’s not simply the amount of the vehicles; it’s the standard of the sound. There’s simply one thing concerning the distinct tone of this naturally aspirated straight-six screaming to 9,000rpm that I simply can’t put into phrases.
10 Years Later…
It might take fairly a number of years earlier than I might have the pleasure to see these vehicles in motion when 5 of them turned as much as the 77th Goodwood Members’ Assembly in 2019.
It was at this occasion the place the wheels have been lastly put in movement to rearrange an in-depth shoot of one of many vehicles pictured above, which occurs to reside round half-hour from the place I name residence.
Sadly, scheduling and Covid put a massive delay onto this shoot, however earlier this 12 months it really occurred. I lastly bought to satisfy certainly one of my heroes.
Simply to interrupt the fourth wall right here a bit of bit, regardless of how usually I’ve been round this specific automotive, it’s fairly one thing to be left utterly alone with. It’s a particular second which I’ll eternally treasure.
This isn’t simply any M1 Procar both, if there may even be such a factor. It belongs to the Martin Birrane Assortment at Mondello Park, and is the automotive which Mr. Birrane received the Group B class in 1982 on the Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Edgar Dören and Jean-Paul Libert. They accomplished 307 laps and managed to separate first and second place within the C2 class within the general standings, whereas ending forward of quite a few C1 class vehicles.
When Mr. Birrane re-acquired the automotive some years later, he selected to have it repainted in its authentic BMW Motorsport colors versus the Le Mans-winning #151 MSW livery.
The origins of the M1 Procar Championship have been properly documented. Conceived by Jochen Neerpasch, BMW’s then head of motorsport, and Max Moseley over a number of gin and tonics, the one-make championship turned a assist race on the Saturday afternoon of eight F1 weekends in 1979, pitching the highest 5 F1 qualifiers towards among the largest names in sports activities and touring automotive racing.
It was a easy concept which proved to be enormously profitable. I suppose the lure of huge prize cash didn’t do the championship any hurt in attracting names like Lauda, Caught, Regazzoni, Piquet, Winkelhock, Bürger, Fittipaldi, Mass, Reutemann and lots of extra.
That the highest 5 F1 qualifiers would occupy the primary 5 grid spots with the remainder of the M1 Procar grid respiratory down their necks from the off solely added to the spectacle.
Whereas we all know of the legend of the M1 Procar now, and its properly deserved icon standing, it wasn’t really meant to be this fashion. It was initially conceived to compete as Group 5 race automotive, however a sophisticated growth and manufacturing course of meant that by the point it was completed, the Group 5 homologation guidelines had developed and the M1 was ineligible. So, it went racing within the Procar sequence as a Group 4 automotive as an alternative.
Ultimately, and maybe a few years too late, a number of Group 4 vehicles have been transformed to Group 5 specification, whereas Sauber constructed two of the one ground-up Group 5 M1s, which you’ll examine intimately on Petrolicious.
They weren’t notably profitable in Group 5, though they did take pleasure in restricted success, which is maybe why the Group 4 specification Procar is the extra famend of the 2.
There are quite a lot of fascinating issues concerning the M1 and its Procar by-product. There have been a number of factors in the course of the automotive’s growth the place had issues gone just a bit bit in another way, it would by no means have existed, or might have been a totally totally different automotive to the one we’ve got come to know.
As BMW’s first mid-engined automotive, the aforementioned Jochen Neerpasch commissioned Lamborghini to design and assemble the chassis, which was dealt with by their very own Gianpaolo Dallara. Whereas Dallara created what’s broadly considered an important chassis, Lamborghini’s then monetary troubles meant that they wouldn’t be capable of produce wherever close to the 400 vehicles required for homologation, which compelled BMW to drag the plug on their involvement.
As a substitute, the identical chassis design was produced by then new Italian firm referred to as Marchesi, primarily based not removed from Sant’Agata, which evidently consisted of ex-Lamborghini employees who have been aware of the M1 undertaking.
It was Giorgetto Giugiaro, thought of by many as one of many biggest automotive designers of all time, who was liable for the physique work which was bonded to the chassis by his firm, Italdesign. By the point the vehicles ultimately arrived again at BMW Motorsport, they nonetheless required important work because the earlier levels of producer didn’t meet BMW’s personal strict requirements.
Therefore the delays, and the way we ended up with the Procar. An by chance sensible final result, reality be instructed.
Regardless of the automotive’s sophisticated historical past, each the ensuing street automotive and race automotive have been a excessive level in BMW’s historical past. Hans-Joachim Caught not too long ago instructed Automobilsport that driving the M1 Procar was extremely straightforward. “The automotive wasn’t difficult in any respect. It was a great dealing with, very neutrally balanced mid-engine racer with handbook transmission, no ABS or something prefer it, simply the fundamentals. It was a improbable automotive to get in and have nice enjoyable.”
Coming again to the day of the shoot, I discovered this an enchanting automotive to discover and pore over. Even with my restricted grasp of race automotive engineering, it’s fairly straightforward to take a look at issues and determine how they work or why they have been finished a sure method.
With the exceptions of a contemporary seat, harness and fireplace suppression system, the automotive is just about as interval appropriate as will be, so that you get a correct appreciation for what it might have been wish to race one in 1979. There’s so little of something, wherever within the automotive. It’s all so remarkably (and brilliantly) easy. There’s not the abundance and complexity of wiring, management models, sensors, screens and switches as you would possibly discover in a recent automotive.
There’s additionally not as a lot consideration paid to security both, so there may be that to contemplate.
Behind the gold meshed 16×11-inch entrance BBS wheels is an ATE brake system with ventilated discs entrance and rear. The braking system options twin grasp cylinders with an adjustable brake bias valve.
Beneath the rear, you possibly can see an oil cooler for the differential and 5-speed gearbox. The rear wheels are 16×12.5-inches and Mondello select to run the automotive on a semi-slick Avon tyre for all-weather use.
The suspension is double-wishbone, entrance and rear, with Magnesium uprights, Bilstein coilovers and totally adjustable entrance and rear anti-roll bars.
Because the vehicles have been all as equivalent as may very well be, any efficiency benefits have been typically exploited with nook weighting, geometry modifications and wing settings.
Its celebration piece, nonetheless, is what sits behind the motive force. The dry-sumped, 3.5-litre, naturally aspirated inline-six. Or, the M88/1 in BMW parlance.
Though the unique plan for the M1 was to obtain BMW’s first V10 Method 1 engine (which finally didn’t occur till 2000), they then pivoted to a brand new inline-six primarily based on the BMW M49 engine from the three.0 CSi race automotive. Because the M1 was deliberate to be a street and race automotive, BMW’s precedence was to complete the 400 manufacturing vehicles for homologation first. Because the M49 wasn’t appropriate for mass manufacturing, it needed to be tailored on the subject of ease of manufacturing and emissions requirements. A brand new DOHC cylinder head was the first change to attain this.
Paul Rosche, whom had already had success designing BMW’s F2 engines within the Seventies and who would go onto create their turbocharged F1 engines, the E30 BMW M3’s S14 and the McLaren F1 S70 V12, was liable for the engine. He described the M88/1 (Procar) and M88 (street automotive) engines as being “shut brothers”.
Each have been dry-sumped, each featured ITBs and each ran a Kugelfischer mechanical gasoline injection setup. The latter of those was a problem as they wished to make use of this gasoline injection setup on the race automotive, so it needed to be homologated on the street automotive, which had strict emissions necessities. They clearly made it work, however not with out nice problem.
The ensuing 470hp at 9,000rpm could be among the most spectacular figures ever created, though once more, these quantity weren’t created with out points. One drawback they confronted because the 1979 season approached was the torsional vibrations attributable to the lengthy crankshaft at excessive revs would pressure the crank’s vibration damper to come back free. The short-term repair was to double the quantity of bolts securing the damper to the crank from six to 12, whereas long-term a lighter flywheel and different lighter items of rotating mass contained in the engine solved the difficulty.
An anecdote I realized whereas researching this function was that on the very first Procar race in Zolder, the drivers have been instructed to not exceed 9,000rpm. In fact, one driver couldn’t assist himself, edged previous 9,000 and was instantly overtaken by his personal crank damper earlier than retiring from the race. Racecar drivers, eh?
The M1 Procar, and different vehicles of its ilk, are simply so particular. They’re from an period which is able to probably by no means be repeated; a candy spot in motorsport and automotive historical past the place issues have been simply the appropriate stability of previous and new. That fashionable vehicles are a lot sooner is irrelevant.
That is one of some vehicles which I’ll all the time be capable of respect from the skin as simply to be in its presence is a present in and of itself.
Whereas this automotive is technically a museum piece, it’s great to see and listen to it in motion so frequently. Simply appropriately.
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