BMW had three goals for the M1 Homage project. The first was to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the M1 – which to this day still remains the only mid-engined car produced by the Bavarian marque – in the same celebratory vein that spawned the Mille Miglia concept in 2006 and, twelve years ago, the ACV30 concept marking thirty years since a Mini won the Monte Carlo rally. The second was to rekindle the old tradition that spurred so many participants of the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance in the past to create bespoke cars for the occasion (the M1 Homage was presented at Villa d’Este this April). The third was to offer a glimpse of the style of a hypothetical M1 of the future – although there are no production plans for the Homage for the time being – and to make a lasting mark. “Each generation of designers”, says Adrian van Hooydonk, “must contribute to the image of the brand, as Giorgetto Giugiaro did thirty years ago with the M1. This, rather, encapsulates BMW design language today.”

Van Hooydonk, chief designer for BMW, was assigned the challenging project by the director of design for the marque Chris Bangle. The brief was to combine the proportions and graphic themes of the M1, of which approximately 500 examples were built, with the new formal language and surface treatment applied by BMW today.

Elements from the original reinterpreted by van Hooydonk include the black slit in the nose, which now also houses LED lights, the proportions of the flanks (the M1 and the Miura were the only mid-engined cars without a forward shifted glasshouse), the graphics of the quarterlights, which taper away towards the rear, the louvres on the rear window and, at the tail, the twin BMW badges which – van Hooydonk reminds us – had already appeared on the 1972 Turbo concept designed by Paul Bracq.

So what’s new about the car? “The aerodynamics of the front, giving the car a very low Cd, and the twin splitters under the grille creating an airflow that cancels out turbulence, improves the car’s behaviour and reduces fuel…

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 171

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