The real BMW M1
1979-80 BMW M1
One of the more interesting cars to come out of the late 1970's was a mid-engine supercar by BMW. The M1 evolved from the BMW Turbo concept car, introduced at the Munich Olympics in 1972. The full story of the M1 is very interesting and easily found from many sources. The purpose of this story is to provide a profile of the M1 in small-scale.
It is a bit surprising that only six different toy car companies produced 1:64 scale M1 models. There may be more but these are the best known examples. Considering how unique this 162 mph exotic was for the time, it is curious that other companies like Siku, Majorette or Tomica did not produce examples.
The silver Matchbox version shown above, was one of the last castings made by Lesney in England, before the company moved to Hong Kong. The front compartment has a plastic cover and opens on a small storage area. As with many of the M1 models, this version carries a racing number. The M1 did race in a special single-spec. series in 1979 and 1980 where F1 drivers competed against each other, much like the American IROC series.
Matchbox (revised casting)
The louvered engine cover, interior, front compartment and tail-lights are all from the same plastic insert. Red looks odd for the engine cover but any other color would look odd for the tail-lights.
When Universal bought Matchbox, they revised many castings including the M1. A deep front air dam, wheel arches and a large rear spoiler were added, all features that did appear on some racing versions of the M1. The opening plastic compartment was discarded. The new casting appeared in a variety of realistic race colors, some of which may represent actual cars. A version with rubber tires and detailed paint was offered in the World Class series. The chromed windows used in this series were an unfortunate choice and were dropped in later years.
Matchbox (World Class)
Tin Toys (High Speed)
Hot Wheels produced a decent casting of the M1. This two-tone silver version may be the best color combination. Under the MC Toy label, Maisto offered an M1 race car. The colors shown represent an actual race car but without the sponsor name. The Maisto M1 is still in production, often seen in a 5-pack of European race cars. Zylmex also offered a racing M1. This modest casting is still in production from Motor Max. Tin Toys did a simple casting of a racing M1. This model has been re-released by different companies over the years. This version may have been produced by High Speed. Kingstar of Korea did a series of models that included the M1. It has opening doors and represents the production car, although Kingstar did add racing numbers on some versions (image courtesy of Mark Perring).