“Home Amongst the Gum Trees”



BMW M1 as right-hand drive (one-off)

M1 #377 was exported from the motherland on the 15th of December 1980 to his awaiting owner Mr Odile Van Rossum in the United Arab Emirates. Five years later on July 25th 1985 he was returned to Europe with 12,149kms and carried the number plate “KJD154W” in the UK. The owner was Mr William Loughran, a car collector from Lancashire in United Kingdom. It was with Mr Loughran that the car was converted to right hand drive. The car wasn’t driven more than 3,500km while it was in the UK, however the RHD conversion made it attractive later on for sale to the Australian and Japanese car market. Interestingly the M1’s interior cabin is narrower on the right-hand side making it a nice fit for the driver to brace for G-force when concerning. The car was registered again in the UK on 10th March 1987 with 12,357 kms and then on 1st March 1989.

The M1 was finally released from its shackles in England and was sent on a long journey by sea, to its colonial settlement in Australia.  The buyer of the car in Sydney, Australia was Mr Les Miller. The car arrived here on 31st July 2000 and it was most fitting that the P&O Nedlloyd vessel bringing the M1 to Australia was named the “Berlin Express”. Upon arrival in Australia the car had travelled 15,731kms. I purchased the car on 7th April 2010 after it had travelled 19,644 kms. It has now travelled 26,000kms of beautiful scenic outback roads, I have always had the mindset that a car should always be driven and enjoyed.

My love affair with the BMW M1 started when I was a young man living in Europe during 1979 /80. I went to as many Formula 1 Grand Prix race meetings as possible to follow Alan Jones (Australian). It was here I discovered the BMW M1 Pro Car races. They looked fantastic, sounded amazing and were driven by the best drivers in the world. I enjoyed watching these races on the Saturday as much as I enjoyed watching the Formula 1 race. I fell in love with the BMW M1 and although I only had very rare sighting of these cars while living in London. I made a promise to myself that one day if possible… I too would own an M1.

I was searching overseas to import an M1 into Australia, as these cars are unseen on Australian roads. When to my absolute amazement, I saw a spectacular example parked in a car showroom. It was here! It was in excellent condition and it ticked all the boxes for me. It also meant I did not have to face Australia’s high car import taxes of 35% luxury tax, plus a 10% GST and a 5% Stamp duty.

Everything works on the car (including all gauges, clock, windows and A/C), which is a credit to its German engineering. The M1 is a pleasure to drive with a strong motor, excellent brakes, precision steering, absorbing suspension and a surprisingly quite cabin for a mid engine car.

For most of my M1’s 31 years, it has been garaged and locked away from public view. Now I make it my personal aspiration to let people experience this vehicle, and for the younger generations to see what amazing machines the world has to offer. The M1 has finally been unleashed across the Australian landscape where it is very much at home.

The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne (15th to 18th March 2012) has a Historic Demonstration event (6 laps each day) in showcasing iconic racing and sports cars from the previous 80 years. The M1 has been invited to participate in this on track event. It’s a fitting tribute that the M1 is recognized as a great car of my youth for its automotive advancement some 30 plus years ago.

Maurice Alexander