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Lego car masters: BMW M1

By Alex Rae, 23 Apr 2019 News

Lego car masters: BMW M1

BMW’s beautifully, boxy M1 has been recreated in beautifully, boxy Lego form

The great thing about Lego or any sort of model is that you can enjoy the ownership experience of an exotic car but at a fraction of the price. Top of that car wish list for some might be the ultra-rare BMW M1, which has been put together in block form by a Lego mastermind.

Consisting of around 1000 blocks each, both the BMW M1 production and race car Lego replicas have been custom built by Lego enthusiast ‘Tomoell’. The pair have opening doors and a functioning bonnet, and the steering is fully connected. For a closer inspection underneath the skin, the shell pops off to expose the drivetrain.

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The real M1 was built from 1978 – ’81 and was the first car to be fully developed from a clean sheet by the high performance M Division. It was also the first and only other mid-engined mass production BMW before the i8.  Power was delivered from a 3.5-litre straight-six engine with individual throttle bodies which produced 204kW at a howling 6500rpm. The mill was developed by Paul Rosche, who was also responsible for the stonking BMW S70/2 V12 engine that motivated the McLaren F1. The boxy bodywork (that’s a perfect fit for the Lego-recreations) was penned by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who designed cars such as the original Maserati Ghibli, Ferrari 250 GT and DMC DeLorean.

The real M1’s build process was considerably more involved than anything involving plastic bricks, the original contracting of Lamborghini to produce the cars imploding due to the Italian company’s financial woes. Marchesi assumed production of the M1’s tube steel chassis, while the glassfibre body panels were made by Trasformazione Italiana Resina. Baur, the German coachbuilder long associated with BMW, then took control of final assembly.

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That wasn’t the biggest disaster to befall the M1 project either. The pet project of BMW M division boss Jochen Neerpasch, the M1’s whole raison d’etre vanished when the Group 5 category that the planned 400 road cars was being homologated for was abandoned before the first M1 rolled off the lines. Undeterred, BMW campaigned the M1s in its own Procar Series, supporting races at Formula 1 Grand Prix around the world. The first championship was won by Niki Lauda in 1979, and the second by Nelson Piquet in 1980.  Only 453 production M1s were built, 399 were road cars and the rest competition cars. Pristine examples of the former currently fetch over $1 million at auction.

While plans for the Lego M1s are currently in the hands of its original creator, Tomoell has put the duo up to public vote on the block building company’s official Lego Ideas website. If the design receives more than 10,000 votes, the kit will be put forward to a Lego review board that will have the final say on if it should go into production.

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Currently, the prototypes are just under 8000 votes shy of that goal, but with over 500 days left to get more supporters, the original creator might still see the one-off go into mass production and earn a tidy commission. It would also make the perfect addition to a shelf in the Wheels office.