BMW or, to give it its full name, Bayerische Motoren Werke, turns 100 this year. For a centurion, it remains pretty sprightly. Perhaps because of a dedication to automotive innovation that’s produced a list of lustworthy machines longer than Mr Tickle’s arms.
So we tapped up Beemer-expert Tim Fathers, from anym.co.uk, for the dream BMW garage – whatever your budget.
The M1 has been described as the first supercar you could also use to take to the shops. And a supercar it surely was. Born in the late 1970s, it’s weathered better than most of that decade’s children (unsurprising since its futuristic looks came courtesy of Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man who designed the Delorean).
It also went like a small rocket, with a top speed of 162mph, which at the time put it up alongside the Lamborghini Silhouette (BMW actually commissioned Lambo to build the M1, but when the deal fell through, the Germans proved that what Italians can do, they can do better).
Fewer than 500 were made, and even fewer survive. If you can travel back to the 1970s to buy one, you’ll have a car that last year sold at Bonhams for over £350,000.
The standard E39 5 Series was, at the time it was launched, lauded as the best car in the world. And, with the M version, BMW only cemented its hold on that accolade.
It was (and remains) a deeply conservative looking four-door saloon, so the end-of-the-world performance and mind-blowing handling are still something of a surprise.
Now, you can buy one for less than £10,000. Expect that to head north quick.
We haven’t swapped the characters round so we can write about the M1 twice (though it did cross our mind). A back to basics tarmac scorcher, the 1M did without the electronic jiggery-pokery that similar cars were riddled with.
The manual gearbox, rear wheel-drive and a turbocharged engine made driving it is much fun as you could have in a hot hatch with your trousers on.
BMW only released 450 in the UK, and that scarcity means prices are rising. If you can find one for around £30k, invest and justify it as your unborn child’s university fund. Then just try not to beat it up too much.
The i8 is not the fastest supercar or the planet. Nor is it the most beautiful. But it is the very first bona fide hybrid supercar.
It could warrant a place on this list by virtue of the fact that it’s shown that hybrids don’t have to be Prius taxis, but it’s so much more than that. It’ll hit 62mph in just 4.4 seconds and has gullwing doors to put a Lamborghini to shame.
One of the coolest ways to wax £100,000.
Rarely have two adjacent characters been so evocative. This was the one that started it all. The first M3 was actually produced to satisfy touring car homologation rules – to compete in the championships, manufacturers had to sell a road-legal version of the car they were entering.
It’s a belter now, but when it was launched in 1985 it was almost inconceivably quick. And this little BMW spawned a legend. Today, £35k buys you a piece of automotive history.
If it appears we can’t get enough of big BMW sports cars, well, we can’t. The 8 Series looked like a shark and moved like a spaceship.
The wedge shape, the pop-up headlights, the huge rims; everything about it screamed ‘I can go very fast so get out of my way’. And it that wasn’t braggadocio – it’s estimated that the top-of-the-line model could hit nearly 200mph, if you stuck a screwdriver in the limiter.
You can find 8s for under £10,000 now. Which is less than the cheapest new 3 Series. We know which we’d prefer…