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M1 to 1M


I am still trawling through tens of thousands of pictures in spare moments of lockdown. I found this glorious picture. 


Not just a great picture but two truly great drivers cars.  I remember the day really well. 


Those of you that know me, know I can be a bit of a Luddite.  It always takes me a while to fall in love with a new car especially when my love of certain cars from my younger days runs so deep.  When choosing a car to use for the weekend, my default is still and BMW E30 M3, a BMW 3.0 CSL or an impact bumper Porsche.


I still find it a little weird that any comparison when the 1M was launched to the M1 was ever made. Apart from them both having 24 valve,  in-line 6 cylinder engines and sharing a letter and a figure in the model designation, there is virtually nothing in common between these two cars. The M1 is space frame construction, mid-engine, sportscar and the 1M is front engine, rear wheel-drive, monocoque, tin-top.


 They do share one thing though! They are both drivers cars in the real sense. Cars built for only one reason,  that is to drive enthusiastically.


There is simply no other reason to own either of these cars. The M1 is usable but fairly hopeless as a practical day to day car and a standard 135i is an amazingly usable day to day car and does 90% of job of the 1M.


The thing this picture bought back to me is how I got caught out that day.


I jumped in BMWs press car 1M and expected to return it saying "its just another bland, capable, efficient modern car that looks cool".  I didn't. It is a Jekyll and Hyde car and in truth if you can only own one car for all jobs on the UKs very busy roads, a usable car is essential.  Although manual gearbox, the torque means that it can almost be driven as an automatic. In fifth gear the 1M will bumble along in any 30 limit even with a slight gradient but also propel the car to light speed. Change your driving style and the 1M really does become an utter hooligans delight. I fell in love with the 1M immediately. Its just simple, front engine, rear wheel drive, manual gearbox with go-kart precision handling and surprisingly forgiving when driving close to the limit. If one did not focus on the modern interior trim it was possible to be tricked and taken back in time to an era when cars still required driver input. 


Only one other car over the last decade has had the same affect on me. That immediate emotion of "I NEED one of these", and that came in the new Renault Alpine. That will have to wait for another day.

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