1980 BMW M1 “Carte de France” #83 Pilots: D. Pironi, D. Quester, M. Mignot Team: BMW France Race: 14st overall (4th in IMSA) at Le Mans in 1980 Ixo - LMC 159 (diecast)
BMW M1 “München” #71 (05/27/18):
The idea for the M1 came from the BMW Turbo Concept, back in 1972. In the late 70’s BMW created a racing division and the M1 (code name E26) was their first project. The main reason for the project was to homologate the car for racing and to have a model that could compete with Porsche, especially at Le Mans. The body was designed by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro, while the chassis would be designed by Dallara, and the engine would be designed and built by Lamborghini. Since Lamborghini was having financial issues (like bankruptcy), BMW took over the engine project, and created the M88/1 engine. The M88/1 was an inline-6 with 3497 cm³, DOHC and with 24 valves, tamed by a 5-speed manual gearbox. All in all the M1 was produced from 1978 to 1981, and a total of 453 cars were produced.
Though having fantastic good looks and promising specs, the M1 failed as a race car. At the time it came out, the Porsche 935 dominated the racing world. But compared to Porsche’s turbo beast, the M1 was heavy, under-powered and unreliable – especially for endurance racing. Even so, a few teams invested in the car, and took them to the track. Though not exactly a privateer, BMW France was one such team. With official support from BMW’s racing department, they fielded the M1 #83 in the IMSA class of the 1980 24 Heures du Mans.
However, what really made the car stand out was the livery. In a true art car fashion, car #83 had a livery that was a map of France, with all the BMW dealerships marked. With that, it became known as the “Carte de France” M1. The IMSA class that year had a grid divided by Porsches (935), Ferraris (512BB) and three BMWs (M1). There were two “regular” M1 and a third with a highly modified body. Of the M1, the Carte de France finished best, in 14th place overall and fourth in the IMSA class.
Though the results of car #83 were kind of lacking, conversely the Carte de France livery was a success. Designed to draw attention to the M1 and BMW, it grabbed a lot of headlines, especially in France. It’s probably the best known M1 to ever race at La Sarthe and paved the way for the München M1 that raced in 1981.
To a regular Le Mans collector it may not be very desirable, but for one who also likes art cars? Ah, then it’s a must buy. I had this one in 1:18 from Minichamps and it was high on my list as soon as I started collecting 1:43. Unfortunately though the Minichamps version is not common to find, and the one from Quartzo is too shabby. So when Ixo released it last year, I was really looking forward to it. And Ixo delivered: a very nice model, in league with their current offerings. I’m very satisfied with it, and have the impression that it’s better than the (older) Minichamps version.