BMW’s M-division celebrate their 40th Anniversary

Many people nowadays are fully aware of the M-cars by BMW. They would tell you that these models are faster versions of the standard cars on which they are based and models like the M3 and the M5 are actually quite a common sight on our roads.

However, not many people know the real history behind the M-cars, so I thought I’d give my readers a little history lesson.

The M-division was set-up in 1972 as a motorsports division for BMW. In those days, BMW really wanted to create an image for itself as a manufacturer of sporty/luxury cars and the best way it could accomplish that was by going racing.

The very first car the M-division worked on was the E9 3.0 CSL race car. This car was not only beautiful to behold but also savagely fast. While both race and road versions of the 3.0 CSL were made, none of them wore “M” badges, as this division at the time preferred to stay silent about its operations.

By 1978, BMW didn’t want to stay quiet about its M-division anymore and decided to launch “M” as its performance brand. It did so with a car that many still believe to be the best M-car ever made, the M1.

This supercar was developed with a bit of help from Lamborghini, and remains the only mid-engined production car BMW has ever made. It also remains as the most rare of all the M-cars. Only 456-examples are believed to have been made of the M1 and they are all worth a lot of money these days, and rightly so.

While the M1 was built in tiny numbers, its 273-hp, 3.5-liter, straight-six cylinder engine lived on in the first M6 (which debuted in 1983) and the first M5 (debuted in 1985).

Since then, BMW has built many M-cars like the Z3 M-coupe, the Z4 M-coupe, X5M and X6M, but the most popular model has to be the M3.

The very first M3, based on the E30 platform, was introduced in 1986 and many still believe that this is the best M3 ever made. It might have only had 192-hp from its four-cylinder motor, but since the car only weighed 1300-kg, it was fast, and thanks to its M-division tuning, it was agile and nimble in the bends, making it a truly rewarding car to drive.

Just how good the first M3 was is not something I can personally answer, as I’ve never driven one. However, of all the M-cars I have driven, my favorite has to be the 1M.

This model, which was only offered in 2011 and early 2012, was the last hurrah model for the outgoing E87 platform for BMW’s 1-series. They surely gave this platform a spectacular send off, as the 1M is one magnificent machine.

The 1M has a 3.0-liter, straight-six cylinder engine (like the original 3.0 CSL), but thanks to two-turbo chargers, it produces 335-hp. That is quite a lot for a car that only weighs 1495-kg.

Only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, the 1M is a true driver’s car, very much like the original M-cars. I got to spend a few days in this spectacular car and loved every minute of it.

For 2012, BMW is launching new M5 and M6 models, and on both looks and specifications, these cars look very impressive. Can’t wait to try them out.

So, if you are a fan of BMW’s M-cars, then celebrate May 2012, as this month marks the 40th anniversary of the M-division.

Thank you M-division for making our roads such a place of joy. Wishing you all the best for all the wonderful models you’ll be making for years to come.

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