BMW Parking Only

Throughout my side project of maintaining this car blog in Japan and through my personal passion for everything on four wheels it is not unusual for me to come across some interesting and rare cars.   After I all, I do live in a very central part of the nation's capital and people here are not afraid to make statements about their status via choices of their automobiles, which I happily depict on my Instagram account or a car spotting post (I know I should do another one soon)

The little 1 series BMW here, however, made me stop what I was doing and grab my camera, which resulted in me spend a quite few minutes appreciating the beauty as well as acclaim the owner's passion towards the rare version of the twin turbocharged custom tuned N54 engine inside the flared shell of the compact 1 series.  Conveniently, it was parked right in front of my apartment building with a space for my 335i right in front, so I sneaked in and commenced what could only could be described as most spontaneous photo shoot of my career.

Unfortunately the owner wasn't around, so I don't know the story behind it and what made the owner go through all these hoops to get this particular car.  The reason why I make such a bold statement is that the 1M Coupe was never offered by BMW Japan, meaning that this example made its way to this part of the world through gray markets.

By no means it is illegal -- there is no law in Japan preventing personal or commercial imports as long as the vehicle is modified to pass the shaken (aka road compliance test); but the cost associated with getting this car to Japan would mean that the price of the compact sports car is well in the M3 territory! Even though I am sure that the car will retain most of its value if not appreciate in years to come, ownership of such car is nothing short of dedication and pure passion towards the Bavarian brand.   With BMW Japan not supporting and hence not offering any replacement parts the owner has to rely on his own knowledge and ability to get parts imported,

but my God, that has to be one rewarding experience!  My 335i, which shares the base engine with the 1M is a lot of fun to drive and is tremendously fast, but the 1M Coupe would blow it out of the water in every aspect.  To begin with, it doesn't have any of the pet peeves of the 335i, such as lack of steering  feedback, excess weight, lack of 3rd pedal, and sometimes being too damn quiet for its performance figures.  Short wheelbase and wide stance make this car an absolute handling dream.   Suspension is tuned for uncompromising performance and 245/35ZR19 in the front and 265/35/ZR19 rear summer high performance tires ensure that the car is under control regardless of how the driver wishes to throw it around.

With BMW putting emphasis on luxury, fuel economy and safety across their lineup certain performance and pure driving pleasure aspects have to be sacrificed; it is definitely not the case here. The dedication to brand image associated with joy of driving has never left the manufacturer and BMW is keeping it in the family by releasing the 1M and now the M2 Coupe.

The 1M may not be the pretties or most flashy model in the BMW lineup, but surely is one of the most important.  This little car to BMW is what 240z or Kenmeri Skyline is to Liberty Walk's lineup for Tokyo Auto Salon: it is a true flagship machine representing grass roots of the company as well as ascertaining that their dedication to history and appreciation towards most loyal fans of the brand are still strong and are here to stay.

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