Man restores junkyard BMW M1 Le Mans racer

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  That old saying is often applied to small things (like the couch you found on the side of the road,) but in Germany that also was true for a rare racing BMW M1.

Marc Dürscheidt had always wanted a BMW M1.  Unfortunately, with less than 500 made in both racing and street versions, they are all priced well outside of the 28-year-old’s budget.  But that didn’t mean he couldn’t dream.  So one day while searching eBay for M1 scale models, he came across an interesting ad for an entire car body.

He met the owner at a storage garage.  While there was no complete car anywhere to be seen, tucked behind a washing machine were clearly parts to a racing M1.  Dürscheidt didn’t hesitate to pay €2,000 and took the pieces home.

Turning the pile of parts back into a car was not going to be an easy task.  All that was left was the front and rear outer panels, mid-section, and doors.  It would need to have everything from the monocoque to the engine sourced or rebuilt.  But Dürscheidt finally owned his dream, and so the mechanic was going to restore this M1 as accurately as possible.

As he sanded away layers of the paint, Dürscheidt began to see an interesting story develop.  He found markings of a car entered in the 1980 24 Hours at Le Mans.  This was not a BMW Works car, but instead Dürscheidt’s car was prepared by the British firm March Engineering.

The #82 M1 was far from a contender in that race.  It retired after 38 laps after suffering multiple flat tires and a crash.  In fact, the BWMs were so unsuccessful for March Engineering that they abandoned the project soon after the race.

This history did not deter Dürscheidt’s desire for a proper rebuild of his M1, but the fact that March has been out of business for two decades did mean he would need to find other sources for help.  BMW came to his rescue by allowing him access to BMW Classic’s archive on the March M1.  This gave Dürscheidt accurate pictures and measurements to restore his car.

He’s taken the time to build and assemble down to the original standard, but there was still one piece missing: the engine.  The 3.5-liter M88 motor that ran at Le Mans is expensive and near-impossible to find.  Dürscheidt instead is instead using the 280 hp motor out of a M-powered 635 CSi.  It is not quit the same as the 470 hp that March utilized, but Dürscheidt will work on his engine until it get close to the same power.

The car is nearly completed, and Dürscheidt will undoubtedly be smitten when his labor of love can finally be on the track again.  This is one of those stories we are happy to share because most of us are still searching every corner of the internet for our dream car at a reasonable price.  Even if some assembly may be required.


story and photo source: Spiegel (German language)

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