Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First Look: Matchbox BMW 1M, as described by a dude who drives one...

We have already made it known that the Matchbox BMW 1M is one of our most anticipated new models of 2013, from any brand.  We have already previewed it, and I have already made my thoughts known.

But as much as this diecast nerd has been looking forward to this, there is a group who have been more eager than anyone, and we asked one of them to tell us why.  Those folks?  The group of BMW 1M owners who were able to get their paws on one of the 740 made available in the US.  Ever since the 1M was announced and previewed, we have gotten our fair share of emails asking when the 1M would arrive.  Think "Are we there yet", only instead of your 7-year-old in the back of the car, it is a hipster or mid-life-crisis-enduring BMW owner who loves taking his tiny German sedan out on the town.  (And, might I add, people I am supremely jealous of.)

So instead of hearing me rave on and on about the 1M, real and mini, how about we hear from an owner himself?  We asked Paul Park out of Portland to do just that, and he obliged.

And this is what we love.  Instead of the equivalent of Beanie Babie collectors looking for the latest Treasure Hunt, no matter what the car it represents, these are real car folks.  So like the JDM geeks tearing down Walmart's door to get the new HW Datsun 620, we are STOKED to see the BMW guys getting ready to do the same thing.  We know there is something cool to this toy car collecting thing, and thankfully Paul and his comrades keep reminding us of that.

Paul's words, Lamley's pics.  Enjoy...

and Thanks Paul.

(And if you don't want to deal with the 1M owners at the pegs, you can get the 1M here...)

What if a group of BMW’s famed M engineers went rogue?  What if they took parts at the end of their product cycle and unbeknownst to the bean-counters, cobbled together a true enthusiast’s car during summer break? What if they code-named it Project Pyrat, after their favorite libation? What if the outgoing head of the M Division, Dr. Kay Segler, was so moved by the prototype that his usual German resolve cracked, he shed a tear, and in a choking voice said “We have to build this car.”? What if the car became an instant hit, praised by the most jaded critics and fiercely loved by each lucky owner? What if there weren’t enough cars to go around?

I am one of the lucky 740 Americans that got a 1M and I am grateful for that fact every time I drive it.  My relationship with the car was very tentative at first. It wasn’t my first choice even after Jeremy Clarkson lauded the car and interest (and the expected price gouging) began to spike. However, placing my name at the top of list was how my retiring sales rep wanted to conclude our relationship of 12 years. He pretty much insisted that I buy the car, selling me on the point that I could easily flip it for a profit if I didn’t like it.  He said, “You want this car.”

He was right.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this car engenders such an immediate and visceral connection upon first sight. It wasn’t until I saw the new Matchbox version that I finally figured it out.

It speaks to our inner child.

Like most children of the 70’s, my childhood is inextricably tied to those amazing yellow boxes that my parents would bring home when they had some extra money. I loved the flared fenders, huge tires, power bulges, bright colors, and logic-defying shapes. Most importantly, when I held those cars in my hands, I felt a sense of ownership and invulnerability.

In our hands these small cars have the power to transport us far away. We are kids again--setting up impossible tracks that careen down high shelves, through the rubble and dunes of couch cushions and discarded schoolbooks, before speeding off to parts unknown. In our private moments we hold these cars in our hands and dream of a world where we take the wheel and scoff at the hazards of the Nordschliefe. Imola? Child’s play. Dakar Rally? Puh-leeze bro. We can hold a 9g lateral skid without a red-out and the quarter mile is achieved in the blink of an eye. Drifts are perfect and rearview mirrors are superfluous.

Owning a 1M is like owning your favorite Matchbox car. You feel like a kid again. You feel like anything is possible. There are no shortage of youtube video reviews on the car, but if you watch them you start to see that there is one common element in all of them. The reviewers are giggling like little kids.  I have never seen a car that evokes such a universal sense of childlike whimsy and fun.

Recently, I found myself in the Matchbox section of the local toy store looking for MB#111. It was as elusive there as in real life. However, I found myself lingering.

And then digging through the pegs.

And then calculating how many sections of track I would need to build a circuit around my house.  

A huge smile crept onto my face.

Thanks, Matchbox.

Matchbox BMW 1M (2013 New Model):

With the preproduction test model donated by Mattel to the Matchbox Gathering auction last summer:

It has been a great couple of years for BMW fans in the minicar world.  The 1M together with some of our favorite new BMW castings from Mattel:


  1. The wheels on the 1M look like the factory wheels on the E46 M3.

  2. Awesome pictures and write-up! And its true, this is such a child's car. In fact, I think all M cars are in pretty much the same league as this. Their main objective is to keep you happy and entertained, nothing else. Now, if only this little model here had the full tail lights, it could've held it's head high and give the old SLR a run for it's money. Doesn't bother me though, I'm still gonna buy this.

    - Black Wind.

  3. YES YES YES!!! TEMPOS (My funny words!)!

    Yep, the tempos is what makes this car a real complete car. That's because this car is one of my top 5 matchbox collection. Just need to get this. Just need to .Hey, next week on Nigel's matchbox ambassador report, I really want him to show the decolor of the BMW 1M. Can you ask him if there IS a decolor for the 1M?

  4. OH, what's wrong with the tempos on the yellow BMW!?

  5. Wow... one of these just sold on eBay for $92.03 via WheelCollectors... that has got to be a record.

  6. Looks good. Will buy, no question.
    And love the story as well. Makes me wanna get into a real one!

  7. Color and notchback style reminds me of old 30 CSL BMW Matchbox, from 1977? 76?