BF Garage: Snow, Sleet & a Road-Trip in the 1M

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A quickly-packed bag is in the trunk and the Valentine 1 mounted on the windshield. The 1M and its first spring road trip is underway just as the sun begins to climb into the morning sky. This car has driven countless miles on similar road trips, but it ‘s been a months since I ‘ve been able to stretch its legs like this. At this point, I refuse to wait for the snow to melt before getting behind the wheel. So with a recent foot of snow barely cleared, I push the start button and the 1M ‘s N54 springs to life with the sound of a rather annoyed idle.

With 7,000 miles on the odometer, the 1M feels as new as it did the day I carefully drove it off the lot. During that time I ‘ve fallen in love with it time and time again. As much as casually browse the classifieds looking for Porsche RSR replicas or pristine E30 M3s, I can ‘t imagine a better combination of performance and utility than my 1M. The fact that I can fit two child seats (Recaros of course) in the back, plus a trunk full of luggage, in a car that is dynamically so pure — it makes the 1M hard to beat. In fact, if it weren ‘t for the E90/E92 M3, there would be nothing on the market even close to this all-rounder at that price.

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Heading north on the frozen roads of Wisconsin with MDM and Sport on, the 1M feels particularly frisky. On cold PS2s, MDM allows (or tolerates) a surprising amount of tail-out action. Based on my strict calculations (and a big right foot) the right way to maximize the slip angle is to ease into the throttle. At one point on the back roads, I managed to drift the car so deep that the radio shut off as the car momentarily went into “oh sh*t! ” mode assuming there was impact coming. Mind you, that ‘s with MDM (advanced stability control) in the full “on ” position.

Of course back on the highway the 1M is a comfortable cruiser with enough compliance to prevent annoyance and enough feedback to remind you that you ‘re in something singularly focused. It also gets out of its way from 55-95 mph as fast as anything I ‘ve ever driven.

Driving enthusiasm considered, tire wear hasn ‘t been quite as bad as I had expected. At 7k, I ‘m about halfway through my rear tires which, with warm weather on the way, is a bit of a relief.

One thing that the 1M has consumed, is oil. In the 3,500 miles since its last service, I ‘ve had to add nearly two quarts of BMW-approved synthetic. Online and offline conversations with other owners confirm that this oil consumption isn ‘t out of the ordinary for the 1M. That ‘s comforting, but it ‘s still more oil usage than any other BMW I ‘ve ever owned, setting aside my 2004 330i ZHP.

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Interior wear has been light with barely even a shiny leather patina developing on the steering wheel. This is also a relief.

The position of the electric seats continues to be the only thing that really compromises an otherwise perfect cabin. As I ‘ve mentioned more than once, the lowest position is about a cm too high for my 6 ’2 ” frame. But otherwise, the seats (which are actually just bog standard 135i sport seats) continue to offer a good blend of lateral support and comfort. I can ‘t help but wonder what might have been though. I know M toyed with putting the M3 seats in the 1M but claimed there were rubbing issues. I should leave well enough alone right? Yet, I must admit I ‘ve been mentally calculating the costs of importing the Recao-based BMW M Performance seats to finally perfect that seating position.

You ‘d think 300 miles inside a 1M would give me some fatigue, or at least get something out of my system. Yet no matter how far I go, all I ever want to do is drive it more. Good thing driving season proper is right around the corner.

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  • BimmerFile_Michael

    Love it! I’m glad you are still loving every minute of the 1M- I know you had other options and it was not really the best bang for the buck but it sure is a fun little whip…

  • Dylan

    I love the photography in this piece, and the words make me want to take my own 1M out on a weekend overnight adventure. I’m enjoying my car more and more and have travelled 22,000 kms now. The only surprising thing for me is that, like you, I’ve had to top the oil up twice, and the brakes never survive a relatively short track day. After only 4 x 5 lap sessions, the brakes are (once again) noisey and slightly wobbly. This is my first M car and maybe this is to be expected with track use, but it does surprise me as I thought this was what the cars were made for (that, and cool road trips like this!).

  • sackboy

    You guys are spot-on! Got 8,000mi. now on mine, and everytime I walk into garage- the little bugger just makes me SMILE ! What more could you possibly ask of a machine?? BTW- one oil change at dealer and none used yet. Sackboy

  • lavardera

    huh, drinks oil like my mini.

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Sounds like you had a great time getting re-acquainted with the car after a winters sleep. Oil consumption is always a bit troubling but if typical; I’d except it as a condition of ownership and not worry even a bit. Loved the article and I look forward to reading more about the 1M…