Model cars are handily sized and – zinc pest aside – impervious to the ravages of time. Like car brochures, they make it possible for the enthusiast to create his or her own personal car museum without leaving the comfort of home. They also allow a rich variety of choice, so you can tailor your museum to personal taste. Mine, for example, has a P38 Range Rover cheek by jowl with a Citroen CX, an Opel Manta, a Ford Cougar and a Peugeot 206 CC. On the basis that nobody else need ever visit it, your museum can be as offbeat as you want.
It becomes a little dull to see the same ‘must have’ cars in every museum. There are certain cars, though, which warrant inclusion not just for their significance, but because they exude awesomeness. I put it to you that the BMW M1 is one such car.
Like everybody else I first saw the BMW M1 in the pages of a magazine. But ever since I visited BMW World in Munich and peered at one at close quarters, it has been ranked towards the very top of my ‘would gawp at for pleasure’ list. I can’t explain why it took me so long before I got my hands on a 1:18 scale example, but only recently have their prices descended from the ‘I could never’ to the ‘I really shouldn’t’ bracket.
But they did, so I did. And I didn’t want a red or orange one. This is because those are the colours that immediately jump to mind when somebody utters the phrase ‘BMW M1’. Is it actually the car you remember, or the bright orangeness of it?
Well, probably both. But when I saw this white one I knew I wanted it more than the other colours. In white there’s nowhere for that shape to hide. Feature-disguising white, a colour which does everything it can to obliterate form, laying waste to shadows and highlights. White all-but eradicates subtlety of form, and a car has to have a really strong design to properly carry it off.
Norev made this one, and captured its geometric, angular nature to perfection, including those iconic might-as-well-be-wheeltrims radial-slatted alloy wheels. Detail is everything, though, and as far as I can tell the model is true to life in pretty much every respect, from the beautifully rendered headlamps (in working pop-up enclosures) to the slatted engine cover.
The engine beneath is a little unspectacular – you can bet that Auto Art would have created a more detailed rendition, though they would also have charged at least three times the asking price of the Norev.
The suspension works, too, though I haven’t calculated whether the spring rates are true to 1:18 scale.
Inside, the only let-down is the unfinished area adjacent to the door openings, where daylight is permitted entry to the cabin even when the doors are closed. The dashboard is accurately represented, though, and the controls all appear to be correctly placed.
This is one of those models that you just keep looking at, holding it aloft and peering at from multiple angles, re-enacting the many, many glossy images you’ve seen since the turn of the ’80s.
The Norev 1:18 BMW M1 is available now, for a remarkably reasonable amount of cash.
(All images copyright Chris Haining, Redusernab 2017)