When the BMW M 1 GTI debuted in the 1990s, its main competitors were the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Ford Mustang GT.
In its first year of production, the M 1’s top speed was claimed to be just over 140 kmph (93 mph).
Since then, BMW has been trying to make the GTI a true race car, to the point where the company even created a new brand name: GTIs.
But its not just a race car: GTI enthusiasts also use the M1 as a rally car.
Why are GTIs so popular?
The first reason is the M’s ability to be driven by a team.
“You have to have the right team,” says Arvind Prabhakar, a GTI enthusiast who goes by the handle The Big Fat GTI.
“The M1 is an amazing car for the GTIs.”
That’s because the M is a track car, meaning it can be driven in a straight line, and you can’t go slower than 70 kmph.
A straight line at 80 kmph is quite a challenge for a rally-car, which requires the car to go from zero to 100 kmph in about two seconds.
To drive the GT1, the driver must brake from 0 to 90 kmph, which means the car has to be under braking pressure at least twice as high as the standard rally car brakes.
In a GT, you can easily achieve that with just two hands on the steering wheel.
“If you do a few laps, you get a good feel for how fast it is, and it’s not that different from the regular race car,” Prabakar says.
“And then you can really get into the race and try to beat the others.”
Prabakars best GTI is the one he built himself, which he calls “a racing car”.
“I was looking for a race-car for my next car, and the M isn’t the only one I could think of,” he says.
So he went to a local shop and built his own race-style car.
Prabaks own GTI was only made in 2009, so its in pretty good shape.
The car is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that uses liquid-cooled direct injection and a 4.3-litres (140 horsepower and 130 lb-ft) of torque.
Its the first time the M has been produced with a naturally aspirated four-stroke engine, which is common in GTIs and is called turbocharged because it’s turbocharged in the air.
It was a lot of fun to drive.
It has a supercar-like look, with an aluminium and carbon-ceramic monocoque and black bodywork.
“I put it together in one day,” Prabs says.
He says he wanted a car that was fast, sporty, and had a good weight distribution.
He was very careful with the suspension, as he wanted to be able to drive it at highway speeds.
He also added a front wing and a rear spoiler.
“It was actually quite an interesting car, because you can have some different combinations,” Prabus says.
The M 1 is not the only GTI in Prab’s collection.
There’s a version called the BMW X5 GTI, a track-focused GTI that Prab bought himself and that he named after the German sportscar manufacturer.
The X5 is available only in Germany and is the GT’s main rival.
The other cars in Prabs collection are a BMW 6 Series GTI and a BMW 7 Series GT.
“If you are a GT I, you are one of the best,” Praber says.
But Prab also has a Porsche 914 Turbo, which has a naturally-aspirated four cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower and 147 lb-frees.
“With the turbocharged version, you don’t have the turbo lag.
And then you also have a much bigger engine,” he explains.
Prabs was so excited about the Porsche that he had to have a 914 built himself.
The only downside to the Porsche is that it’s limited to one engine.
“Because it’s a trackcar, you have to get used to it, and then you get used in the track,” Prabi says.
And it’s no wonder: the Porsche has a much more powerful engine than the GT.
As a result, Prab says he often tries to build a GT car that he can drive in a race.
He does that with a Bentley Continental GT3.
Beside the GTs, the Porsche also has its fair share of GTIs that Praber has built himself: a Porsche 911 GT2, a Porsche GT3 RS, a Koenigsegg Agera R, a Mercedes-AMG GT E and a Lamborgh