The process of pining for and then purchasing the 1M has been well documented on these pages. For me it was a very personal undertaking that was over three decades in the making, beginning with memories of my dad’s 2002. That was the time when BMW represented thinking differently about driving. Owning a car with a roundel was an experience that wasn’t about status but about defining you as a certain kind of automotive enthusiast. And ever since I could buy crappy used BMWs I’ve been searching for that magic answer for myself— a modern day version of that car.
After 6,500 miles in a 1M I’m not sure I’ve found it. The truth is that the 1M isn’t a successor to the 2002 or even the E30 M3. It’s very much its own car within the current M range and the annals of BMW. A torque monster with a short wheelbase and a propensity to oversteer like a drift car. Yet a year and a bunch of miles have proven speed doesn’t make it crucially different than any other M car for sale. Yes it gets out of its own way with authority. 0-60 times have been clocked in the low 4s by some. But thank God it doesn’t end there.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the past few months. Having spent plenty of time behind the current M3, M5 and M6, the 1M feels totally different. Yet those cars are quantifiably more “M” with bespoke parts making up as much as 80% of the car. The 1M clocks in well under that with a “series” derived engine and transmission and lacking all the electronic goodies of a modern M badged car. Yet those 6,500 miles have taught me that none of that matters. The 1M has a soul that is analog where most other modern performance cars are digital.
There are no electronic dampers or multi-stage launch controls. This is a car that relies on the driver for ultimate speed. And if you get it wrong you give it another go. Driving the 1M fast is a learning process as rewarding as anything I’ve ever experienced in a car.
Typically the reward zone on a modern M car doesn’t start until you’re near the limit or triple digits. It’s not a bad thing but just a reality with cars as incredibly competent and digitally enhanced. The 1M, like the E30 or even the E36 M3s, doesn’t need outright speed to reward the driver. Commuting or running a quick errand is as grin inducing as it is in a MINI.
One year and a bunch miles have produced zero faults and zero rattles. So no downsides then? Well the fuel tank is clearly made for chassis that wasn’t meant to average 15 mpg in the city. Yes I’ve got a lead foot and the massaged N54 isn’t the most efficient six cylinder mill out there. The other issue (of sorts) was having to add a half quart of oil at around 5,500 miles.
Other than that the biggest complaint I continue to have is a seating position that is about 3/4 of an inch too high for my 6’2″ frame. This isn’t an issue with the standard manual seats but as someone who loaded their 1M, I had no choice when it came to electronic controls. Note to BMW, M products attract your biggest fans and these people are particular. Let them order what they want. They will pay for it, trust me.
Speaking of paying for it, as much as I love my Alpine White 1M I still hold that BMW missed a lucrative market by not offering BMW Individual colors on the 1M. If I had a choice, I would have happily (maybe foolishly) ponied up for Laguna Seca Blue.
Tire wear is shockingly not as bad as I expected given my continued addiction to opposite lock. Similar brakes are looking good. Yet my 1M is still a track virgin. One of the benefits of running BimmerFile and MotoringFile are plenty of track days in cars that aren’t mine. So I’m going to let my 1M sit out as long as I can before melting tires and brakes at the track. But rest assured, it will be at a track before long.
Values of 1Ms are finally starting to dip slightly. A quick look at the classified show prices of cars with 5-10k getting closer to the original MSRP. From my quick research I’m seeing cars anywhere from 53k to 60k with miles as high as 10,000. That’s a healthy change from 8-10 months ago when those cars where going for 70-75k in the hottest markets.
Isn’t a 1M priced like a used 996 GT3 insane? And how in the world is the 1M holding its value better than an M3? Apples to oranges of course. But the three are very different cars. All great in their own right but the 1M has a secret weapon when it comes to the heart-strings of enthusiasts. A magic combination of scarcity, simplicity, everyday usability and fun.
Where will values go? Unquestionably down. I expect them to slip as the F80 M3 is introduced, then more as the M235i comes out and more still with the new M4. And if BMW decided to build the M2 in 3-4 years they will certainly dip well below 40k. Where they will ultimately settle is anyone’s guess. However, not unlike the S54 equipped Z3 M Coupe and of course the E30 M3 before it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them to start to settle and then slowly rise by the end of this decade.
But I didn’t buy my 1M to sell it. It’s in my garage to be driven and enjoyed. And in that sense it’s succeeded on all levels.