Cars as a work of art? What constitutes art? There is an ongoing debate on whether cars should be considered as art. But is timeless design and history enough to elevate a car to the same level as a DaVinci painting? As you might have read in one of our previous articles, that’s exactly what happened with the Ferrari 250 GTO when a commercial court in Italy decided in favor of Ferrari in a lawsuit filed against a company that was planning to build replicas of the most iconic Ferrari of all times (read the full article by clicking here).
When it comes to the “Cars and Art” discussion, we have to consider the BMW Art Cars. In this very special collection, BMW connects the automotive design of the German car manufacturer with famous artists. The concept of the BMW Art Cars was the idea of the French racecar driver, Hervé Poulain, who wanted to connect the world of art and motorsports.
The most famous car among this already very rare edition might by the BMW M1 painted by the American Artist Andy Warhol. As one of the leaders of what people know as Pop Art, Mr. Warhol is known for paintings like the Campbell’s Soup Can from 1962. See pictures of this one-off project below, photographed by Stephan Bauer (Instagram: @stehpan_bauer).
Originally, the BMW M1 (type E26) was presented to the world in 1978 at the Paris Motor Show. With a compact 24-valve six-cylinder mid-engine, it was a surprising start to the Motor Show. It was the first car manufactured by BMW Motorsport GmbH which was founded especially for racing purpose. The M1 was actually the fastest German sports car until Porsche released its 959 in 1986. The power output of the M1 was 277 PS (racing version 470 PS) on a weight of 1,300 kg (racing version 1,020 kg), with an acceleration time from 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds (racing version 4.7 seconds).
BMW had originally planned 450 vehicles, of which 400 were road cars for homologation purpose. In the end, a total of 453 cars were produced within a little more than two years (including 400 street versions) - almost all of which disappeared into collectors' garages and are now as expensive as many a V12 Italian.
The 400 cars needed for homologation were not finished in time (2 years). In addition, regulations changed which made it impossible to compete for the M1 in the FIA Group 4 category. BMW and the motorsport fans behind the M1, led by Jochen Neerpasch, Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley responded by founding a new racing series - the BMW-M1 Procar Championship (short Procar).
In 1979 and 1980, the series was mostly run in the supporting program of European Formula 1 races. The five fastest Formula 1 drivers in training rounds would compete against sports car and private pilots. Hard fights entertained the audience and at the end of the first season, Niki Lauda won ahead of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Clay Regazzoni. Then the year after, Nelson Piquet won the second and last series. When BMW announced in 1980 that they wanted to build Formula 1 engines in the future, they cut the budgets for the further development of the M1 - and thus also the budget for the Procar racing series.
Starting price for the M1 (street version) was 100,000 Deutschmark, making it significantly more expensive than a Porsche 911 Turbo (82,000 Deutschmark) at that time. Today the market price of the approx. 220 still existing vehicles is at c.a. 500,000 – 600,000 Euros.
Among this total number of 453 M1 cars produced, one vehicle remains unique – the 1979 M1 that Andy Warhol turned it into a work of art. And as The Collectors Circle always likes the rarest finds, we invite you to enjoy Stephan Bauer’s photography of this true artwork.
M1 - BMW Art Cars Collection (Art Car Number 4 by Andy Warhol)
You can’t put a price tag on such a car. One of Andy Warhol’s paintings was sold in 2013 for USD 105.4 million. That says it all.
BMW produced 453 M1 cars but obviously this M1 is unique.
Something you will probably never hear from us again – NEVER! The car belongs in a museum.
We love Hervé Poulain’s idea of connecting the world of art and motorsports. And with Andy Warhol and the M1, he did so perfectly. There are also many other nice cars (in total 18 cars) in this collection like Jeff Koons’ BMW M3 GT2 from 2010.
© Images: Stephan Bauer (Instagram account: @stehpan_bauer)