I had only heard about it and seen it flassh past a few times, but had never driven it. Most of the CAR team had, and spoke of it in hushed, almost reverential tones … staring into the distance, squinting into the sun, chewing on an imaginary cheroot. Like Clint Eastwood. “The 1M … that thing … proper. Yup, you need to be on your A-game to drive it quickly.”
Unable to attend the BMW 1 Series M Coupé’s launch back in 2011, any hopes I had of driving the legend were dashed when the subsequent press-fleet car was damaged just before it came my way. Given the limited numbers imported into South Africa and the escalating values they now demand (good examples exchange hands for R200 000 to R300 000 more than the original sticker price), my chances of joining the Clint Eastwood Club were, frankly, slim.
Until Schalk Burger came along. Needing a 1M to photograph in our scoop SA road test of the new M2, I put a speculative call through to one of SA rugby’s favourite sons. We knew the Bok flanker had bought one back then and, being a committed petrolhead, odds were he still had it. Turns out Schalk remains the proud owner of an Alpine White 1M and, the nice bloke that he is – and a regular CAR magazine reader to boot – he was only too happy to lend it to us. One small caveat: could he have a go in the M2? Done deal!
And that’s the story of how we sourced a rare, mint, unmolested predecessor to BMW’s mightily impressive new M2, and I finally became a member of the CEC. It’s fitting, too, that it should happen in 2016, the centenary year of this iconic automotive brand.