Welcome to BMW M1 Procar #77
Date Posted:25 May 2013
We welcome the latest addition to the collection, the BMW M1 Procar, adding to the ever growing number of BMW's in the fleet. One of their finest motorsport creations, the BMW M1 Procar is a rare beast, in fact we had never seen one run, till we went to Laguna Seca Historic's last year and were captivated by two run by BMW USA. Their low menacing look, with that sheer howl at revs had us in, and the way they blew a foot of flames out the exhaust coming into the fast sweeping bends just sealed the deal!
Lowest car in the collection is the M1...
The BMW M1 Procar Championship was an interesting footnote in motorsport history, and the idea of BMW motorsport legend Jochen Neerspach. It was a one make series to support to the European F1 races of 1979. This series put many of the worlds great drivers from F1, Sports & Touring cars against each other in identical cars. The F1 drivers earned entry to drive the different cars based on their performance in the F1 cars during practise, plus numerous race teams fielded private entries, with the likes of Walkinshaw, Eggenberger, Schnitzer in the fray as well. The races were pretty thrilling and the crowds loved them, in 1980 the championship was won by F1 champion Niki Lauda, and in 1981 Brazilian Nelson Piquet took the prize (With Aussie Allan Jones coming second).
Racing in the Procar series at Hockenheim.
BMW pulled the pin on the championship in 1981, so they could focus their energies on entering F1. Plans were made to homologate the M1 to be eligible to run in the big banger group 5 series, however 400 road going examples needed to be built for the car to first join Group 4, and then further homologation was needed to enter group 5. By December 1980 the M1 was eligible to race for Group 4, which meant that after the series was ended, the cars were sold and then raced in the numerous rounds of the World Endurance Championship. BMW built two cars for group 5, and a few M1's were later converted as well, making that series a very rare beast.
Our car here, Chassis #77 was one of the later cars built in the UK, May 1979, by F1 Legend Ron Dennis with his company Project 4, (which was later to merge with F1 team McLaren, the P4 prefix is still used in their car numbering today) it was assigned for a team to campaign in the 1979 Procar series, but there were issues getting funding, so it in turn was sold to Japan. #77 first raced in August 1979 at the Suzuka 500 mile race entered by Auto Beaurex/ Speedstar Wheels. It arrived in Japan 4 days before the event, cleared customs a day before the race and was run, finishing a fantastic 4th position, saying alot for the build quality of the M1 out of the box. From what we can see, it is one of, if not the first car to be raced outside the Pro Car series in the international Group 4 races.
After a year of running numerous endururance events in the group 4 guise, in mid 1981 it was converted to the "Silhouette" Group 5 regulations, with the now wider, more wind efficient body which helped make it a lot more effective with the engine putting out just under 500bhp. It was to go on and have many great successes, among them the big 1982 Suzuka 1000km and then the follow up with the Mt Fuji 1000km.
Then in the 1983 World Endurance Championship at Mt Fuji, it famously won the group 5 class, coming in fourth outright behind the Rothmans 956 Porsches. It also managed to pick up two Japanese endurance championships to its name as well.
At a recent event in Japan, sounds ok...
#77 and her spoils from Fuji and Suzuka.
In 1984 it was retired and acquired by the teams sponsor, where it was still occasionally used in selected historic events, but mostly hibernated for the next 25 years. Our family car finder, Chris Bowden sourced the famous racer through his company Ecurie Investments, and our plans are to return it to the original Group 4 trim, so it can be eligible to use it in a few selected historic events. It has only recently been checked over by our team here in the workshop and we hope to be able to showcase it at a few local events in the near future.