The BMW M1 is a legendary automobile in its own right, a car that any moto enthusiasts would love to have in their collection. But as far as M1’s go, there’s a small handful of ultra-rare special editions out there called the M1 Procar’s, and they are flat-out spectacular. If you don’t believe me take a second look at the gorgeous grey-blue example.
This glorious machine is owned by former race car driver Bruce Canepa and he worked tirelessly through the tedious process of meticulously restoring every square inch of this all original M1 Procar. It’s one of just 40 cars built in this particular configuration, which is a full-blown race car.
The story behind the Procar is an interesting one. Jochen Neerpach, head of the BMW’s racing division also known as Motorsport GmbH, created the BMW M1 Procar Championship as an all-star game for the world of motorsports. He invited racers from all disciplines such as the World Sportscar Championship, European Touring Car Championship, and most importantly the Formula One Championship to compete.
It was brilliant. Neerpach gathered all these talented drivers and put them in an auto racing series where every car would essentially be identical, so it all came down to driving skill rather than which team had the most money or the best engineers. That car was the BMW M1 Procar.
Unfortunately, the BMW M1 Procar Championship only ran for two seasons because BMW wanted to shift focus on their entrance the highly competitive world of Formula One. The inaugural race held in 1979 was won by none other than Niki Lauda and the 1980 season by Brazilian driver Nelsen Piquet.
The M1 in stock form was no slouch. It had a twin-cam 3.5L six-cylinder that was mid-mounted, the first mass produced BMW of its kind. It produced an estimated 273hp when it left the factory floor (but there are countless examples of race versions that used forced induction to get that power figure up into the 700+hp range). The M1 had to be extensively modified to earn the title of “Procar,” not to mention meeting the requirements of competitive circuit racing. The engine is what received a great deal of attention. Once all was said and done it produced as much as 470hp, a drastic increase over the original.
This particular M1 Procar is a slightly different because it’s street legal. It’s been slightly detuned to produce “only” 414hp and 357lb-ft of torque, thanks to a thorough rebuild by VAC Motorsports. Being that it was designed and built to be a race car for race car drivers it has a five-speed manual transmission which was also been rebuilt from the ground up.
The M1 Procar had a few basic modifications on the exterior, but nothing as wild and crazy as what went on underneath the hood. There’s a semi-large wing mounted out back that’s adjustable and a splitter added under the nose. All four-wheel arches were extended in order to accommodate the bigger, wider wheels. For the race cars, the interior was stripped of just about everything with the exception of the roll cage and a steering wheel. But Canepa’s recreation needed a little bit of luxury and comfort since it was going to be a street-legal car. Even still, everything served a very specific purpose which was, of course, being as fast and light as possible.
Canepa’s M1 Procar is painted in what’s called “Basalt Blau,” which at first glance reminded me of Audi’s Nardo Grey, but when you look closer you realize there’s a bit more of a blue shade to it. The color is the exact same color that appeared on the M1’s driven by the Quandt family.
If you happen to be near Monterey California for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance you can see this incredible specimen live and in the flesh at The Thermal Club during Monterey Car Week.
After reaching out to Canepa they got back to us and shed a bit more light on this absolutely gorgeous car. Apparently, there is a bit of “fake news” going around about the car that they wanted to clear up. First, the car isn’t currently owned by Bruce Canepa, he once owned it but last year it was sold to a new owner.
Next, they pointed out that this particular model is not an all original M1 Procar. Instead, it’s a Procar chassis that BMW sold once they had no use for the Procar race cars. When Canepa took possession of the car, it was essentially just a street car. It was at that point that they decided to rebuild and transform the car into the Procar race car it was meant to be.
We appreciate Canepa reaching out to us in order to make sure we are providing the correct information, especially regarding such an incredible specimen such as this.
Photos Courtesy of: Canepa.com