BMW M1 Hommage concept (2008): first official pictures

Published: 27 April 2008

The new BMW M1 Hommage was a surprise debutant at the Concorso d’Eleganza 2008 di Villa d’Este this weekend. No prizes for guessing what it is: this is an official concept car to mark the 30th anniversary of the original M1 supercar.

The Hommage is a clever reinterpretation of the 1978 coupe, bristling with echoes of the original. The low-slung coupe stance, the slatted deck where a rear window should be, those polished, sink-strainer alloy wheels – it’s an unambiguously direct bloodline connected to BMW’s first proper supercar.

BMW M1 Hommage: not all retro

Don’t expect a Mini-style trip down memory lane. The M1 Hommage is brought bang up to date with the latest design trends: there’s the (now compulsory on any sports car) rear diffuser, the usual lack of any visible door handles and typically tiny door mirrors. We like the BMW roundel sitting on the extremities of the rump though.

The official line is that the M1 is a celebration pure and simple, but the July 2008 issue of CAR Magazine reveals BMW is deadly serious about the project.

A rare BMW surprise

It’s rare for a manufacturer, and especially BMW, to throw a complete surprise, but few outside Munich’s HQ even knew this show car was coming.

Click ‘Next’ to read more about the M1 Hommage
BMW M1 Hommage: Mid-engined, rear-drive

The M1 Hommage’s designers say they took inspiration from the 1972 Turbo concept by Paul Bracq, which led to Giugiaro’s M1 production car. Naturally, the 2008 version is still mid-engined and rear-drive – and it’s roughly the same size as the original M1, although the wheelbase is stretched.

Even the paint job is retro inspired – the ‘liquid orange’ reminds us of the orange and black of the Seventies original – but the extrovert surface language, and its interplay of concave and convex forms, is nothing but pure BMW of today. You even get the trusty BM kinked window graphic.

That front end…

The rather sketchy German press release doesn’t spell out too many details, but it talks about the recessed headlamps and the surrounding black that masks them. It’s an attempt to mimic the pop-up items of the 1978 M1 – you’re only supposed to notice them when lit, you see.

It’s clearly an aerodynamic snout, designed to cleave the air cleanly rather than look beautiful.

Click ‘Next’ to read the final page on the Hommage
Just remind me about the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este thingy…

Ah yes. No glitzy motor show debut for this BMW. As with the Mille Miglia concept, BMW has turned to a smaller, upmarket event to unveil the M1 Hommage. It’s a concours d’elegance where beautiful classics of the past mix with design studies of the future.

BMW’s design overlord Chris Bangle said: ‘It’s important to be conscious of your past. Following in the footsteps of Giugiaro and Bracq, the BMW M1 Hommage combines the values of design and technology in a highly emotional and exciting interpretation.’

Will they build the M1 Hommage?

BMW sure could do with a flagship car like the Hommage to spice up its everyday range, and BMW is exploring how to make it a reality.

It’s worth remembering that the Turbo was also ‘just’ a design study in 1972, but it inspired the M1 production car and its influence is still highly visible 30 years on.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet