BMW commissioned March to build a Group 5 version of its supercar. Many people would be surprised by this fact.
Providing considerably more scope for development than Group 4, Group 5 dictated little more than a vague resemblance between a racing car and the 400 road-going machines on which they were based. March's chief designer, Robin Herd
, led the exciting programme, BMW Motorsport taking responsibility for the engine whilst everything else was done in England on their behalf. These two companies had already forged a successful alliance in Formula 2 and sports car racing, March having been granted exclusive use of BMW's two-litre powerplant during the early 1970's. For this car, John Gentry
created an all-new aluminium monocoque that was much lighter and stronger than before. It had been designed to initially accomodate the familiar Group 4 spec motor although an 800bhp twin turbocharged unit was in development back in Germany. As the full house engine wouldn't be available until after the 1979 Le Mans, a short-term measure saw Rand Linger
of Freiburg supply 480bhp versions of the straight six mated to a Hewland LG600 gearbox. The striking bodywork was fabricated from a mixture of lightweight aluminium and composite and resembled the production M1 in just its basic outline, this thanks mainly to a massive new front spoiler, stretched tail and extended wings. 2 cars were effectively built and run in IMSA. The first one should make one appearance at the 1980 Daytona 24 Hour race, with Patrick Neve, Mike Korten
and Ian Grob
, ending up a lowly 43rd, while the second car was sold to Jim Busby
, who ran it in the first half of the 1980 season. Underpowered, the car would be granted a 5,0L Chevrolet engine!