The long-lost record-setting 1979 BMW M1 E26

Twin-turbo LPG-powered 1979 supercar BMW M1 E26 emerges from 27 years in family ownership.



It’s a startling story – a rare supercar, converted for a world record attempt, crosses borders before vanishing into obscurity because of family tragedy, before rediscovery and a triumphant sale at Coys’ Techno Classic Essen auction for €160,000, including premium, in April.

The long-lost record-setting M1

The long-lost record-setting M1

The car in question started life as a 1979 BMW M1 in bright blue. It was bought by Austrian driver Harald Ertl and converted to challenge the highest speed recorded by a car running on LPG. Sponsors included BP, who were pushing LPG (branded as Autogas at the time), and the car ended up with a pair of KKK turbochargers as well as rows of Blaupunkt speakers in the sills.

Ertl reputedly set a record of 301.4 km/h (187.3 mph) on October 17, 1981 at VW’s Ehra-Lessian test track. The following April, he was killed in an air crash and the car passed through Alpina dealerships in Germany and the Netherlands before selling at auction in 1989, possibly to Japan, before turning up in the UK in 1992. It was bought by a gentleman called Pummy Bhatia who enjoyed it for a couple of years before sadly passing away, leaving a wife and young son. Lacking space to store the car, his wife loaned it to a motor museum, until the police returned it to her after catching the museum’s curator trying to sell it on. The M1 was in a poor state after being stored outside, so Pummy’s son Pritham hopes that the new owners will restore it back to its former condition.

Having been stored outside for years, the unique BMW M1 is badly in need of some major TLC

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