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BMW M Series Celebrates 50 Years and New Models

BMW is a common fixture at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, but this year they’re celebrating 50 years of the BMW M Series and their all-new M models. 

Festival of Speed Honors BMW M 

Goodwood Festival Central Feature - goodwood.com
Goodwood Festival Central Feature - goodwood.com

Every year since 1993, Goodwood has hosted the Festival of Speed. The annual racing celebration is held at the Goodwood House that resides on 12,000 acres of land in southern England. The English manor features its own airfield, horse racing track, two golf courses, a cricket pitch, 4,000 acres of farm land, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars headquarters and assembly plant, and most importantly, there’s the Goodwood Circuit.

This historic 2.4-mile circuit has been around since WWII when it was initially used by the Royal Air Force. It has a racing history featuring everything from Mini Coopers to Formula One cars, but it took a hiatus in racing after 1966. The owners of Goodwood eventually realized that racing was an important part of the community and had been missed for some years, so they introduced the Festival of Speed.

BMW M4 drift car - @AlesoLayxo on twitter.com
BMW M4 drift car - @AlesoLayxo on twitter.com

Now, the greatest drivers from around the world and nearly every auto manufacturer come together to celebrate racing and going fast at Goodwood every year. There’s a hill climb, drifting, rally, and tons of cars for attendees to witness in person. The Festival of Speed also commemorates the event to different automotive milestones or remembers an important piece of motorsport history every year. The largest part of this is the Central Feature that is found directly in front of the Goodwood House.

This year at the Festival of Speed, Goodwood is honoring the BMW M brand’s 50th anniversary. The Central Feature sculpture will incorporate five decades of the BMW performance brand’s history with depictions of the first M model up to the most recent ones. There’s a lot of BMW M history to celebrate at the Festival of Speed, plenty of BMW influence throughout the event, and a lot more that is being revealed about the upcoming cars coming out of the performance M brand.

The BMW M Series Car History

BMW 3.0 CSL - goodwood.com
BMW 3.0 CSL - goodwood.com

BMW introduced BMW Motorsport Gmbh back in 1972 to help in the creation of specialized racing vehicles. The first ever car from the group was the BMW 3.0 CSL, a homologation special based off of the E9 coupe model that was intended for racing in the European Touring Car Championship. These 1,265 BMWs underwent extensive weight reduction, received a bored and stroked straight-six engine, and could have an iconic aero package added. The aero package added a large rear wing, roof spoiler, large front air dam, and front fender fins that helped the 3.0 CSL achieve an eye-catching look. Plus, these unique aero additions helped it achieve the nickname of “Batmobile” out at the races. The 3.0 CSL went on to win six European Touring Car Championships.

1976 BMW 530 MLE - netcarshow.com
1976 BMW 530 MLE - netcarshow.com

Following the success of the 3.0 CSL was the first true M car from BMW, the 1976 BMW 530 MLE. Now many consider the M1 (I’ll get to that in a bit) as the first M car, but homologation examples of the 530 MLE were sold to the public two years prior to the M1. This South African exclusive was based off of a 5 Series E12 had everything but the race engine inside when it was sold to customers. They were hand made with tons of holes puncturing the sheet metal and removed any unnecessary interior components to reduce weight. These homologation cars all featured a special front air dam, rear spoiler, fender flares, and the famous white paint with the BMW Motorsport colored striping.

BMW M1 - netcarshow.com
BMW M1 - netcarshow.com

Then came what the world knows as the first production BMW M series car, the BMW M1. The M1 came out in 1978 as the first ever mid-engine BMW model. Its original development was intended to be a joint effort with the help of Lamborghini, but those plans fell through. Instead, we ended up with the sharp-nosed supercar straight from the BMW Motorsport brand that carried a specially crafted 3.5L inline-six. The BMW M1 also gained its very own championship that featured F1 drivers racing identical modified M1 cars.

BMW M models and Goodwood House - goodwood.com
BMW M models and Goodwood House - goodwood.com

BMW’s performance brand continued to crank out BMW M series vehicles not just for racing but for enthusiasts. Models like the BMW M5, M3 Coupe, M Roadster, and even sports activity vehicles like the X6 M are all loved by BMW fans. The M brand continues to provide us with both highly engineered racers and brings those same components to cars available to the general public. The experiences these BMW M series cars have created for 50 years are truly unmatched on the road or at the track. A worthy cause for celebration at Goodwood.

The Future of BMW M Series

Goodwood BMW showcase - goodwood.com
Goodwood BMW showcase - goodwood.com

BMW will feature a ton of their most iconic cars and racers throughout the Festival of Speed, but the event isn’t just for reminiscing about the past. There are also plenty of car reveals and new vehicle performance showcases from tons of auto manufacturers at Goodwood. BMW is opening up the playbook and taking out all the stops this year with their new BMW M Series models, including one that introduces a new direction for the brand. Here are some of the cars that BMW is showing off at Goodwood.

BMW M3 Touring

BMW M3 Touring - goodwood.com
BMW M3 Touring - goodwood.com

BMW kicked off the Festival of Speed with their debut of the first ever BMW M3 Touring, the performance wagon that BMW fans have been asking for. It carries the same M twin-turbocharged 3.0L straight-six engine that generates 510 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. All of that power in this wagon is transferred through the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system and can achieve a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. BMW also showed off the new safety car version for MotoGP events featuring a BMW M 50th Anniversary livery and roof lighting. Unfortunately, the United States isn’t getting this model since BMW USA decided against bringing the Series 3 Touring body over, so we have to miss out and wait for some years to get our hands on it.

BMW M4 CSL

BMW M4 CSL - bmwusa.com
BMW M4 CSL - bmwusa.com

BMW M is also showing off the track focused BMW M4 CSL. This special edition M4 carries the same Competition Sports Lightweight name as the first M car and acts as a wonderful tribute to the original. This BMW M series car is all about precision, power, and keeping things as light as possible. The M4 CSL carries a M twin-turbocharged 3.0L straight-six that puts out 543 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque that sends this 3,640 lb sports car to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That power to weight ratio calculates out to 6.7 lbs/hp. The M4 CSL is kept planted through the turns by its dynamic, racing tuned suspension and a set of Michelin racing tires. A modern testament to BMW M Gmbh’s 50 years of performance work.

BMW i4 M50

BMW i4 M50 - bmwusa.com
BMW i4 M50 - bmwusa.com

The i4 is BMW’s new sedan that shares everything with the typical 4 Series, except for what’s powering it. This is the all-electric version and it has gotten the M treatment. The i4 M50 features an 81-kWh lithium-ion battery pack capable of going 270 miles on a single charge, dual electric motors pushing all four wheels with 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque, the Adaptive M Suspension, and M Sport Brakes. This BMW M series car proves that electricity is more than just an alternative power, it can provide performance. The BMW i4 M50 has achieved a 0-60 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the current gas-powered BMW M3 competition.

BMW iX M60

BMW iX M60 - bmwusa.com
BMW iX M60 - bmwusa.com

BMW didn’t just keep the electric power to the cars, the iX is a mid-size luxury SUV option and it too received the M performance updates. The iX M60 features a 111.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, dual electric motors putting out 610 horsepower and 811 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels, plus all of the other M performance additions to help with handling. This luxury option can hustle to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds while providing an electric range of 280 miles. While driving this BMW M series SUV is why you buy it, the rest of your passengers will enjoy the high-tech and luxurious interior it offers as well.

BMW XM

BMW XM concept - goodwood.com
BMW XM concept - goodwood.com

The BMW XM is a high-performance sports activity vehicle that features the first M hybrid drive system. This newly developed hybrid system utilizes a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 engine combined with an electric motor to generate 644 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. BMW has alluded to a future variant that will bump that horsepower up to 750 horsepower and 737 lb-ft of torque. This hybrid power is routed through a hybrid-specific M xDrive four-wheel drive system that is said to send the XM to 60 mph in under four seconds. The added electric bit isn’t just helping performance, the XM battery pack is said to achieve 30 miles of all-electric range.

BMW M also imbued the XM with a wonderful handling that can soak up the bumps and skillfully carve the curves. The new hybrid recently underwent testing at the Nürburgring and proved itself more than a luxury SUV type. Although, that inside looks like a nice experience. BMW M incorporated a lot of updated technology like the infotainment system that spans from the gauge cluster to the center of the dash found in the rest of their lineup, while still showing off that sporty M styling throughout in a plush manner. This is a glimpse at the future of the BMW M series cars shoppers can expect – where exemplary hybrid performance meets new age luxury.

BMW M LMDh

BMW M LMDh - bmw-motorsport.com
BMW M LMDh - bmw-motorsport.com

That M hybrid drive system isn’t just being introduced on the XM, BMW’s next IMSA Sportscar Championship and potential 24 Hours of Le Mans racer utilizes a hybrid system as well. The BMW M LMDh is the new hypercar from the M brand that carries a V8 hybrid and acts as a celebration of BMW M Gmbh’s 50-year racing history. The livery it wears takes images of previous BMWs that had raced at the 24 Hours of Daytona over the years. You can find hints of the 3.0 CSL, 320i Turbo, M1, GTP, M3 GTS-2, Z4 GTLM, and the M8 GTE throughout the stylized reds and blues on the racer. This model can most prominently be seen at the top of the Festival of Speed Central Feature alongside some of the other BMW M icons.

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Jesse McGraw

Jesse McGraw brings his life-long car obsession into his writing. A fun childhood that involved growing up around race tracks, working on a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, and collecting Hot Wheels developed into a strong appreciation for automotive history. If there is an old, obscure, or rare car, he wants to know about it. With a bachelor's degree in Web Development & Design from Dakota State University, Jesse can talk shop about car or computer specs, focusing on classic cars, imports, and car culture.

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