The 1M remains Peak BMW

By | March 27, 2024

The 1M remains Peak BMWYve Assad

BMW 1 meter from 2002BMW 1 meter from 2002

That the 1M received more nominations for this list than the 2002 is surprising but completely justified.Yve Assad

Don Quixote had a dream. In Cervantes’ still great 17ecentury novel, the hero imagines Dulcinea del Toboso as the perfect woman. Virtuous and beautiful in every way, she inspires the delusions that drive Quixote through his adventure. She doesn’t really exist, but the dream of her is powerful.

This story originally appeared in Part 22 of Road and rail.

Imagine your IPO is a huge hit and you then fill a block-long barn in Montecito, California, with Ferraris, Lambos and a few glorious race cars. Exotics and legends. All constant inspiration. That dream can be enough to make someone toil and work their entire life to make that dream come true. And even if that person doesn’t get that Barn of Awesome, great things can be accomplished along the way. Motivation is important. Dulcinea from the car man.

The BMW 1M is not a car that belongs in that shed. It’s the car you get when you reach reasonable goals. There will be no IPO, but you are the best systems analyst at a company that pays well. Or you are the highest paid employee at the law firm. It’s the car that’s absolutely satisfying on a track day, or when you’re commuting between your Manhattan Beach apartment and the Torrance clinic where you perform LASIK surgery all the time. It’s doable, regular stuff.

BMW 1 meter from 2002BMW 1 meter from 2002

BMW’s 1M was the first in the country and was used as a pace car. Supplied in white, it only received a quick outer coat of orange paint.Yve Assad

“BMW has given M purists plenty of reasons to hate the BMW 1 Series M. It’s not much faster than the 135i, and… gasp!-is not powered by a high-revving, small-displacement naturally aspirated engine,” Dan Pund explained in 2011 while working for Car and driver. “Indeed, it’s powered by the very same 335-horsepower twin-turbo engine that powers the Z4 sDrive35is, which not only has one of the dumbest names in the industry, but isn’t even an M car. The truth is that the 1 Series M is a parts bin car.” The quality of the car comes from the excellence of the parts bin that BMW’s Motorsport division plundered. A great parts bin.

And a great history.

Road and rail is built on sports cars and exotics. All that driving glove stuff right after World War II eventually turned into the geosynchronous madness of Lamborghini Miuras, Ferrari F40s and McLarens. Great fantasy stuff (and great cars) and impractical for how most of us live. But around 1968, BMW invented the “sports sedan” as we know it, stuffing a 2.0-liter four-cylinder into its compact two-door 1600-2, creating the 2002.

BMW 1mBMW 1m

Flared fenders with barely-there summer tires and big brakes never lose their appeal.Yve Assad

R&T first wrote about the 2002 in the May 1968 issue. “At a price of around €3000 it is fully comparable in performance, handling, handling and finish to sports cars costing as much as €2000 more, although it has a modest sedan body has,” our ancestors wrote 56 years ago.

What R&T what we didn’t see then is the revolution that 2002 represented. Here was a £2,210 everyday car (four seats, a boot, not fragile) that delivered the driving sensations that made sports cars, well, sensational. Sports cars were a fantasy, but the sports sedan is an attainable dream.

The 2002 gave way to the first 3 Series in the mid-1970s, and over time the 3 became larger. So BMW came up with the 1 Series to fill the compact slot, starting overseas in 2004 and eventually reaching North America for the 2008 model year. The 2011 1M was the twerp series M3 and a purer distillation of the M3 -spirit than any M3 since.

BMW 1mBMW 1m

Yve Assad

The 1M was taken from the BMW museum and had just over 22,000 kilometers on the odometer. He started immediately on a cool January night in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The warm glow of BMW’s once-signature orange dashboard lights provided a reassuring familiarity during a sprint to Asheville, North Carolina. As Pund wrote at the time, there is “a clear whiff of an economical sedan” in the interior of the 1M. The nostalgia for simple, old-fashioned Bimmer virtues has overcome that criticism.

The N54 335bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six is ​​flawed, although it growls like previous turbo-free M-spec sixes sing. It is amazingly flexible in its power delivery; plenty of torque at low revs, but still giddy enough when it hits the redline. The six-speed manual transmission needs a clear intention to shift perfectly. So pay attention.

When new, the 1M roared to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 13.0 seconds at 105 mph. Those were amazing times for 2011, before expectations skyrocketed thanks to the jaw-dropping turbocharged V-8 engines and massive source of battery-powered electric torque. It turns out that 13 years ago is a relatively long time ago.

BMW 1mBMW 1m

Dials and knobs and knobs? What once felt cheap is now as comforting as your childhood home.Yve Assad

BMW 1mBMW 1m

Yve Assad

With a short wheelbase, lots of Michelin tires on 19-inch wheels and quick steering, there’s an instinctiveness to the 1M’s rear-wheel drive chassis that’s lacking in many current BMWs. Or something else. Consider that, even with the twitchiness implied by a relatively short 104.7-inch wheelbase and long sedan-like body, the 1M pulled 0.97 g on the skidpad. That’s still great.

The 1M’s successor, the current M2, is close and packs 453 horsepower, but it’s longer and weighs about 400 pounds more. Inevitably this dulls the reflexes. Not that the technologically advanced M2 doesn’t have digital offsets. But it’s not the same and it’s not better.

When new, the 2011 BMW 1M had a base price of $47,010 and Pund’s example had a hefty $50,810 as tested. There aren’t many 1Ms on the market, but $50,000 today will only get you a mediocre example with serious miles on the odometer. You can get good ones for $60,000. The low-mileage example from BMW’s collection that drove here? It would be a bargain at $80,000. And probably still a good deal at $90,000.

BMW 1mBMW 1m

Yve Assad

The market has spoken. The 1M is a beloved modern totem. With a few more years behind it, there’s no denying it’s a classic.

Don Quixote imagined his inspiration and ideal woman as Dulcinea. He didn’t end up with Dulcinea because Dulcinea wasn’t real. Very few of us will end up with our Dulcinea. There isn’t even a Ferrari or Lambo or a pristine 1969 Camaro Z/28 in our garage. If we’re lucky, we’ll end up with something like the person we married. Someone we can cherish through thick and thin, whose shortcomings are obvious but can be overcome. The 1M is the real deal; not perfect, not exotic, but worth the sacrifice to achieve. Not Dulcinea, but a reality to love.

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