Skip to main content

There are some cars that you can expect to hold value over time. Supercars, low-volume sports cars, and first-generation models often carry a higher price tag in the secondary market. But every now and then, an automaker accidentally creates an icon. BMW never intended for the 1 Series M Coupe to be a legend, but today the BMW 1M is a collectable classic.

What makes the BMW 1 Series M Coupe Special?

BMW 1M on track
BMW 1M Coupe | BMW

Firstly, the BMW 1M was only around for a single model year. Available only in 2011, this compact sports coupe was a true one-off. And despite over 6,000 models rolling off of assembly lines, the 1M had the right formula to capture enthusiast attention right away.

It had, of course, a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. Staples for BMW at the time, but in the ultra-nimble 1 Series Coupe, added a fun factor that was beyond compare. Paired with that was a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine chucking out 340 horsepower. However, the N54 engine wasn’t available in any other BMW M car. That alone makes the 1M unique, but its attributes don’t end there.

N54 Engine in BMW 1M Coupe
BMW 1M N54 Engine | BMW

Overboost allowed the 1M to make 369 pound-feet of torque from the 3.0-liter twin-turbo setup all the way back in 2011. That’s the same torque level found in today’s B58-powered M240i and M340i, as well as the MK5 Toyota Supra.

Other M-specific touches include a wider rear track and limited-slip differential. These seemingly minor tweaks were anything but, cementing the 1M as a true track weapon with legitimate on-road comfort. Combine all that with a curb weight of just 3,200 pounds, and the 1 Series M Coupe was instantly BMW’s best sports car. Some would argue it remains so to this day.

Why is the BMW 1M so expensive?

In most cases, a 12-year-old sports car with a problematic powertrain and no pedigree wouldn’t be worth much anymore. But in the case of the 1M, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one for less than $60,000. Sure, the 1 Series M Coupe was essentially a parts-bin car. But BMW used all the right parts to create something truly unique.

The N54 engine proved to be a revelation, and its heritage carries on to this day. First with the N55 starting in 2015, and now with the B58 six-cylinder engines. In addition, the slick-shifting six-speed stick and limited-slip differential added a sense of occasion to the driving experience that BMW hasn’t since recreated.

In other words, the BMW 1M is a unicorn. A last-of-its-kind Ultimate Driving Machine that defied expectations upon release, and shines even brighter with every new generation.

The BMW 1 Series is the best BMW Coupe

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
BMW 1M Coupe | BMW

Modern BMW’s are better than they get credit for. I loved the BMW M240i in its rear-wheel drive guise, and colleague Joe Santos had a riot of a time in the new M2. But there is a visceral engagement to the 1 Series M that the new cars just can’t deliver. It’s that formula that makes the BMW 1M Coupe so special, even if the new cars pack a bigger punch.

Related E82 & E88 BMW 1 Series Buying Guide: Classic BMW, Modern Wrapper

E82 & E88 BMW 1 Series Buying Guide: Classic BMW, Modern Wrapper