Record-setting M1 found in garage and heading to auction

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After being hidden away for 25 years, this record-setting BMW M1 crosses the auction block April 13 | Coys photos

The BMW M1 driven to a world speed record in 1981 has been found after hiding in a garage in East London for 25 years and will be offered up for bidding April 13 at Coys auction at the Techno Classica classic car show in Essen, Germany, the British auction company announced.

“This is undoubtedly a piece of motoring history and possibly one of the rarest BMW’s to carry the M1 badge,” said Chris Routledge, Coys managing director. “There is huge interest from around the world from people who wish to own a piece of motoring and speed record-breaking history.”

Racing team owner Wolf created special bodywork for the record run

Routledge added that the car’s discovery “is the result of our untiring detective work in the world of classic cars, which has resulted in the barn finds we have unearthed, from the lost Ferrari 250 GT to the Cavalino treasure trove of parts which included valuable spares and items from the great Italian marques such as Ferrari, Maserati and Abarth. The BMW is another astonishing barn find.”

On October 17, 1981, racing driver Harald Ertl drove the M1 to a speed record of 301.4 km/h (187.2 mph) in a run backed by the British Petroleum Autogas company. The speed was a record for a car running on liquid propane fuel. The LPG fuel fed a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engine. The car had been prepared for the speed run with modified aerodynamic bodywork by racing team owner Walter Wolf.

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Ertl died at age 33 early in 1982 in a plane crash that also claimed his brother and niece but was survived by Ertl’s wife and son.

After the record-setting run, the M1 was sold several times, most recently in 1993, but apparently had not been seen again until being discovered in the East London garage.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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