M1 Homage echoes BMW's 1970s supercar
Thirty years ago, BMW’s M1 supercar was a true ground-breaker. It was powered by an inline six cylinder motor which mandated the long engine cover. Penned by legendary Italian designer Giorgio Giugiaro, it ran in its own race series as a curtain-raiser at Formula 1 Grands Prix. It had stupendous performance – 0-100kph in a round five seconds, sublime handling, and was the embodiment of BMW’s virtues of fine road manners, stonking performance and technical excellence. The M1 had been inspired by the BMW Turbo, a revolutionary concept car which showcased a raft of technical innovations and which was by Paul Bracq. Now, BMW is paying tribute to the M1 and the Turbo with the M1 Homage, a design exercise developed by BMW Design Group. BMW’s design director, Chris Bangle, says the new concept car’s Liquid Orange paintwork was developed exclusively and highlights the bodywork’s interplay of convex and concave surfaces. Bangle says a significant feature of the original M1, was the twin logo on the right and left sides of the car above the taillights, an arrangement that signalled a mid-engined car. When the M1 was being developed in the 1970s, the dual emblem was the first styling element to be approved even before the initial sketches were drawn. It was decided from the outset that the M1 Homage would feature the same twin badges.
Other specific styling cues inspired by the M1 are the air vents in the bonnet, louvres on the rear windscreen, and the black cutline dividing the roofline from the rear bodywork. The M1 Homage uses the M1’s trademark proportions, and combines them with new lines, surfaces and details to create an up-to-date interpretation of the supercar. It has a relatively long engine compartment, a clearly defined transition into the A-pillar and a stretched window line that includes BMW’s Hofmeister kink. Where the original M1’s bodywork was dominated by high-contrast graphic themes, the Homage’s follows the marque’s current practice of employing unusual surface styling to make it instantly recognisable as a BMW. Frontal styling adopts M1 graphic design themes, like the contrast between the black recessed surfaces and the main body colour, the small, squat kidney grille and the "invisible" headlights.
The kidney grille combines aerodynamic, cooling-air routing and safety solutions; the headlights are a new iteration of the M1’s retractable units. The side bodywork lines, surfaces and details are designed to lead the eye from the front, along the stretched engine compartment and clearly defined A-pillars before converging at the centre of the vehicle. Two lines run from the front along the car’s flanks towards the engine compartment. The flow of lines begins in a straight, disciplined fashion at the front end, lowering the Homage’s optical centre of gravity and highlighting its low-slung stance. Bangle says the overall design is driven by functionality and each detail has its purpose. The car has sophisticated air ducting through the body; the cooling-air routing for the engine is positioned below the roofline, in the black recessed cutline along the side of the vehicle behind the window graphic. Small flaps and openings guide the air to the engine to ensure an adequate supply of cooling air.