Collective gasps welcomed the BMW Turbo Concept on the stage at the 1972 edition of the Paris Motor Show. The car, stunning from every angle, was the embodiment of what future BMW products would offer: cutting-edge looks, state-of-the-art technology, and performance. This mesmerizing prototype designed by Paul Bracq was the inspiration for BMW’s one and only supercar: the M1. Thirty years later, BMW honored both the Turbo and the M1 by creating the appropriately-named M1 Hommage. Dressed in a similar coat of hypnotic red as the Turbo and with countless design cues that trace their roots in the Giugiaro-penned M1, the Hommage was a way for BMW to look back while also looking towards the future.

First displayed at the Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este in 2008, the M1 Hommage was the German manufacturer’s way of refreshing the wedge-shaped M1 which was celebrating its 30th birthday. BMW brought the much-revered older siblings to complement the launch of this design experiment, but many were left bemused by the company’s announcement that there would be no new supercar to come from Munich.

This wasn’t, however, entirely true as BMW didn’t ignore its waves of fans who fell in love with their 2008 concept and went on to include certain unmistakable design cues in their 2009 Vision EfficentDynamics concept which led to the BMW i8. It’s not a supercar, it was never intended to be, but it’s similar enough to the M1 Hommage to make us happy, and it also channels the Turbo prototype through all of its hybrid technology that it incorporates.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage Exterior

2008 BMW M1 Hommage High Resolution Exterior
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The car featured some ultra-aggressive lines completed by a narrow front end coupled with gullwing doors

BMW’s Motorsport division was on the verge of coming forth with its first world-bending product, the 3.0 CSL, when the Turbo prototype was unveiled. The car featured some ultra-aggressive lines completed by a narrow front end coupled with gullwing doors. It was this car that was the main inspiration for Giorgetto Giugiaro when he penned the M1 while working at Italdesign. Nestled in the middle of this low-slung beast was the inline-six powerplant, making it the first production BMW to have its engine placed right behind the seats.

Giugiaro’s straight-cut lines have been re-imagined in the Hommage which, while still a mid-engined supercar, boasts a more rounder shape that loses none of the aggressive touch of the original. “In the spirit of Giugiaro and Bracq, the BMW M1 Hommage unites the BMW values of design and technology in a highly emotional and exciting interpretation," said Chris Bangle, then head of Design within the BMW Group, which is quite obvious as this concept car is a clear departure from Bangle’s infamous flame surfacing design paradigm which shocked many BMW fans in the early mid noughties.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage High Resolution Exterior
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bmw m1 front end
Additional air inlets are located on either side below the headlights, the whole frontal area being sculpted in the name of performance.

When talking about the design of the car, Adrian Van Hooydonk, who replaced Bangle at the helm of the Design department within BMW, expressly pointed out at the impossibility of equipping the Hommage with pop-up headlights akin to the original. Everyone loves pop-up headlights, but, sadly, modern safety regulations means that they will stay in the past. However, the headlights are indeed almost hidden within a narrow slot that goes all the way across the front fascia with the typical BMW kidneys in the middle. Additional air inlets are located on either side below the headlights, the whole frontal area being sculpted in the name of performance.

What would be the hood covering the luggage compartment is dominated by another, generously-scaled, air inlet, which is a dead ringer to that of the 1978 model. While the car was never seen moving, BMW argued that they designed the car with functionality in mind, each body panel carefully carved to channel air. This becomes even more clear when looking at the car from its side. The thin side mirrors, sculpted skirts, and door panels all lead you to what is the key design feature of the car: the cut-through c-pillar. The cut creates a clear distinction from the top wing-shaped part which is a clean continuation of the roof line and the bottom part which ends in the bulging rear corners.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage High Resolution Exterior
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bmw m1 rear
It’s clear that BMW wanted the Hommage to feel wider and more muscular than the original which is why flat surfaces were all but abandoned.

The top part, which also features a see-through grater, swings upwards at the rear, a BMW logo gracing it on both sides. This was, as in the case of the original, a design element that was set in stone before any sketch was ever laid on paper. It’s clear that BMW wanted the Hommage to feel wider and more muscular than the original which is why flat surfaces were all but abandoned.

The result is a car that exudes performance and attitude while not moving an inch, the same speech being voiced by the wheels which are a more aggressive and modern interpretation of the legendary Campagnolos of the original. They sit hugged by sizeable tires, leaving one to wonder what the road-holding of the Hommage would be. Sadly, as this is just a design experiment, we will never know such intrinsic details.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage Interior

2019 BMW i8 Roadster Interior
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standard leather upholstery
Interior of 2018 BMW i8 shown here.

The BMW M1 Hommage’s mirror-like long, swooping, windows let no one have a peek inside. Basically, BMW did not design an interior for this car as it was meant to be a study in exterior design alone and, as Van Hooydonk put it, “A project such as this is a valuable source of inspiration for our day-to-day work." Certainly, it wouldn’t be far from what we have inside the i8, considering the outlook towards the future that this project encourages.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage Drivetrain

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We can only guess, then, what kind of powerplant from BMW’s garden would move this beast along the scenery at dazzling speeds

The lack of interior is coupled with the lack of an engine. We can only guess, then, what kind of powerplant from BMW’s garden would move this beast along the scenery at dazzling speeds. All we know is – and this is something that BMW has reinforced time and again – that the Germans are in every way capable of building an M1 follow-up as M division boss Frank Van Meel explained in 2017.

“It could be possible, yes, because we do have the engineering power – but if you look at the tradition of M, we came from being the first company to take a series production car and making a high-performance car out of that,” argued Van Meel who added that “We are trying to make cars for customers, and trying to reach as many customers as possible – but to build a car for 200 people would not be our main target.”

So, while Mercedes-Benz basks in the glory of the AMG GT and Audi keeps making the R8 better and better, the M division is happy to keep on delivering “an armada of fast vessels to attack a broader range of possible customer groups,” as Van Meel put it.

2008 BMW M1 Hommage Prices

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There is only one M1 Hommage in the world, and you must pay the admission fee at the BMW Museum in Munich to see it – if it’s on display when you get there.

There is only one M1 Hommage in the world, and you must pay the admission fee at the BMW Museum in Munich to see it – if it’s on display when you get there. Of course, there’s no way BMW would part ways with it, the same way you could never get your hands on one of the two 1972 Turbo cars – even if you’d have the pockets of Ralph Lauren.

This all leaves us with the original M1 of which just 453 were built. Merely 399 of these were road cars, the rest living their lives out on the race tracks of the world. This means that we’re talking about a rare machine which commands prices upwards of $400,000 – if you get lucky at auction. The racing cars go for even more than that if they have a storied past in the Procar series, for example.

Conclusion

2008 BMW M1 Hommage High Resolution Exterior
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bmw m1 rear
We’d love if BMW would come forth and deliver a breath-taking supercar as we’re sure that the brand’s many fans would gladly stand to correct the M division’s chief in his estimation over the car’s potential buyer pool

The BMW M1 Hommage is one of BMW’s most evocative modern concept cars that really stands out as a bold yet respectful reinterpretation of its illustrious older cousins. Most that have seen it in the flesh have pointed that the images don’t do it justice, since you can’t quite read such a commanding presence from a two-dimensional image – or the depth of that red body color. We are, then, talking about one of those many `what if?` stories that really deserves an answer.

Yes, we’d love if BMW would come forth and deliver a breath-taking supercar as we’re sure that the brand’s many fans would gladly stand to correct the M division’s chief in his estimation over the car’s potential buyer pool. We are, admittedly, thankful that some of the memorable cues on the M1 Hommage – like the split C pillar and dramatic tail lights – made their way into production on the i8, although the electric coupe will never be able to claim such a svelte physique and that’s sad.

  • Leave it
    • * You can’t drive it. Not because you aren’t enough of a driver, but because it has no interior premises and no engine to buzz under the hood.
    • * BMW doesn’t plan to make an M1-esque supercar in the near future, although they claim they could easily pull off an AMG GT contender.
    • * Even the original M1s are almost unobtainable jewels, unless you happen to trip over an oil rig in your backyard.

Further reading

1978 - 1981 BMW M1 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 1978 - 1981 BMW M1.

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Read more BMW news.

Press Release

To mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1 super sports car, BMW Group Design is presenting a homage to this legendary model as part of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2008. The BMW M1 designed by Giorgio Giugiaro was a car of superlatives and a highly emotive vehicle that was uncompromisingly primed for the race track. Spawning this development was the BMW Turbo by Paul Bracq, a revolutionary concept car which, in addition to its groundbreaking functional design, also boasted a raft of technical innovations. It is from these two unique vehicles that the BMW M1 Homage takes its cue - a design study that pays tribute to its forerunner models and an embodiment of the competence, creativity and potential of the BMW Group Design team.

"For BMW, heritage is always also a living heritage. Drawing inspiration from your own past and thereby reinventing yourself - that is exactly what the BMW M1 Homage demonstrates in impressive style."
Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW Group Board Member, Development

A particular forte of BMW Group Design is to draw on its own powerful history and actively feed this into the design of the future. The BMW M1 Homage is a design study in the tradition of a BMW Turbo that represents a contemporary take on the BMW M1 and the mid-engine concept. This tribute exhibits an emotional design that showcases technology and integrates it into the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.

The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este provides the perfect backdrop for the BMW M1 Homage. Here automotive beauties from the past meet the concept cars and design studies of the future. It is in this dynamic field of tension between past and present that the BMW Group Design team affords insights into its own perspective on a historically inspired automotive future.

Homage to the BMW M1.

"For a company as for a product, it is important to be aware of one’s roots. In the spirit of Giugiaro and Bracq, the BMW M1 Homage unites the BMW values of design and technology in a highly emotional and exciting interpretation."
Christopher E. Bangle, Director Design BMW Group

The BMW M1 was an utterly uncompromising super sports car oozing passion; its forerunner, the BMW Turbo by Paul Bracq, displayed innovative technical solutions that found their expression in emotional design. It is precisely this blend - of technology and design, rationality and passion - that the BMW M1 Homage embodies. It presents an exciting and authentic interpretation of the BMW M1 and the mid-engine concept from a present-day perspective, and the legacy of the BMW M1 Homage is obvious at first glance. Unquestioningly it takes up the graphic play of the hallmark BMW M1 colours black and orange and interprets them anew. The Liquid Orange paintwork exclusively developed for the BMW M1 Homage cites the classic BMW M1 colour, yet surprises with its powerfully iridescent play of colour and brilliant depth. It shapes the extrovert surface language and strikingly highlights the eloquent interplay of convex and concave surfaces.

Mention the BMW M1, and another feature that immediately springs to mind is the characteristic twin logo at the rear, on the right and left edge above the tail lights. For BMW, this particular arrangement of its emblems has always signalled a mid-engined model. In the development stage of the BMW M1 this dual emblem was the first styling element to be approved even before the initial sketches were drawn. Likewise, it was confirmed from the outset that the BMW M1 Homage would feature the same twin badges. Other specific styling cues taken from the BMW M1 are the air vents in the bonnet and the louvres on the rear windscreen, as well as the black cutline dividing the roofline from the rear section of the body. Overall, the exterior dimensions of the BMW M1 Homage are in keeping with those of the BMW M1; only the extended wheelbase indicates a larger passenger cell.

Emotional design at the flashpoint between tradition and modernism.

The BMW M1 Homage takes long familiar elements from the BMW Design repertoire, reinterprets them and couches them in a new context. Its design brings together past and present, expanding the observer’s perception through new design solutions that find their expression in typical BMW style. If the contrasting colours were a dominant design theme for the BMW M1, this contrast is perpetuated in the BMW M1 Homage through its surface styling. Familiar elements, such as the trademark proportions, are combined with new and exciting lines, surfaces and details to create an up-to-date interpretation of the BMW M1, which remains to this day an extraordinary car.

Shunning the strong wedge shape of other mid-engine cars, the BMW M1 Homage consciously opts for BMW’s characteristic proportions. A relatively long engine compartment, a clearly defined transition into the A-pillar and a stretched window line featuring the "Hofmeister" kink instantly give it away as a bona fide BMW. The horizontal flow of lines lowers the car’s visual centre of gravity and lends it an air of sovereignty.

Though the BMW M1 already boasted extremely harmonious and sporty proportions, its surface design was not yet an explicit styling issue and was dominated by high-contrast graphic themes. Today, however, next to the car’s proportions, it is primarily the unusual surface styling that determines the strong recognition value of a BMW model. For some years now, all BMW vehicles have exhibited a striking and unique design language. The sculpting of the surfaces demands substantial experience and craftsmanship at the highest level. Only through the combination of craft skills, state-of-the-art technology and a sure sense of the personality of each BMW can designers and modellers achieve the overall sculptural effect that lends a BMW its unique character. The BMW M1 Homage systematically melds the proportions and graphic themes of the BMW M1 with the surface language of the new BMW look - a combination that imbues the vehicle with an exciting, sporty and authentic emotionality.

The front-end styling of the BMW M1 Homage adopts many of the graphic design themes of the BMW M1: the contrast between the black, recessed surfaces and the car colour, the small, squat kidney grille and the "invisible" headlamps. And yet the front of the BMW M1 Homage is an absolute novelty for BMW. Each element assumes a function: the hallmark twin kidney, for example, is not only a distinguishing feature of the BMW brand but combines aerodynamic, cooling-air routing and safety solutions. The design of the headlamps, meanwhile, is a new iteration of the retractable headlights of the BMW M1. Like the lamps on the historic model, those on the BMW M1 Homage are only visible when switched on. When not in use they are discreetly integrated into the front-end design and "disappear" into the recessed black cutline, almost like pop-up headlights.

Along the side of the car all the lines, surfaces and details lead the eye from the front end along the stretched engine compartment and clearly defined A-pillars before converging at the centre of the vehicle. Two expressive lines are drawn from the front along the flanks of the vehicle towards the engine compartment area. The flow of lines begins in a straight, disciplined fashion at the front end, lowering the optical centre of gravity of the BMW M1 Homage and highlighting its low-slung stance. From the middle of the car, however, the lines break up. The power of the design is focused precisely where the power of the vehicle also lies - at the engine. Strong, sensuous sweeping lines accentuate the car’s mid-engine concept, the design emphasising the mechanics behind it, the engineering skills and the engine expertise of the BMW Group.

The roofline of the BMW M1 Homage is flatly tapered, extending into and around the rear. In so doing it draws a continuous line and forms a link between the two sides of the car. It is on this line, above the tail lights, that the hallmark twin BMW logo can also be found.

"Engineering is beautiful - let’s show it!"

The overall design is driven by functionality and each detail has its purpose. Aspects such as aerodynamics, cooling-air routing and safety lend the BMW M1 Homage technical substance and make it a genuine BMW. A telling symbol of this is the kidney grille design of the BMW M1 Homage, fulfilling as it does several functions at the same time. The twin kidney isn’t just a signature BMW feature, it is also part of the car’s honed aerodynamics: it guides the air to the engine cooling as well as constituting the front section of a crash box, similar to the monocoque chassis of a Formula One race car.

Inspired by aircraft design, the car as a whole also boasts sophisticated air ducting through the body. For example, 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 stream into the engine compartment to ensure an adequate supply of cooling air.

Vision and inspiration.

"The BMW M1 Homage clearly manifests the creativity and potential of the BMW Design team. A project such as this is a valuable source of inspiration for our day-to-day work." Adrian van Hooydonk, Director Design BMW Automobiles

The BMW M1 Homage holds great significance for the BMW Group Design team, its genesis epitomising both a living tradition and an innovative future. This vehicle is designed as a source of inspiration; it sets out to challenge us to question and rethink what we see around us. The BMW M1 Homage pays eloquent tribute to the BMW Turbo and the BMW M1, which in their design were well ahead of their time. Originally slated as "merely" a design study or small series, their influence remains very palpable today - 30 years on.

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