By on June 17, 2014

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A whisper in your ear

There’s a particularly notorious car doing the press rounds lately…well, was doing the rounds. If you’re feeling generous about my job title, you could say I was the last automotive journalist to have a go at the Dinan S3-R BMW 1M before the keys were handed to its permanent owner.

The night before the exchange I was fortunate enough to find myself at a popular Los Angeles Ramen bar, sitting across from the car’s steward during its tenure as darling of the automotive press. Over bowls of rendered pig cartilage he was kind enough to offer me a ride, but only if I could make it to his place promptly after dinner. I was saddled with a chore that evening, a favor to a friend and fellow journalist also seated at the table. Lucky for me, he happened to have been the first journalist to have driven the car and fully understood the little sport coupe’s appeal enough to warrant a detour on our impending cross-California errand.

At this point you are probably wondering why I haven’t actually said much about the car, and that’s because I barely drove it, just a few miles, though suffice to say redline was reached…several times. Still, what’s to tell about its performance that hasn’t been already? If you are reading this website, there is a good chance that you’ve already heard about its stiff but smooth and compliant suspension, fantastic and firm steering feel, and the delivery of its 444 hp in a manner befitting of a tuner car, which is to say, furiously and mostly at the top end.

So why review it at all? Because there is something that I think has remained unsaid (though perhaps tacitly implied) by other reviewers. Having had the good fortune in my life to drive a great many tuner cars, the usual feelings on exit lie somewhere between bemusement and inspiration to improve my own vehicle.  So often with modified cars it’s about the journey and not the destination. But obsession over details gives way to compulsion, confusion, and eventually trepidation about even taking the thing out of your garage. Not so with the Dinan 1M, while I’m certain the firm offers a degree of customization, you get what you get and what you get is good. At no point in my short time with the car did I think about what I could to my car to improve it, rather I thought about what I could do to improve my life that I might be able to drive it again.

Brief drives in supercars might evoke fits of euro-gentry fancy, but those fantasies are as ephemeral as the routes of entry to a permanent Monaco lifestyle. Driving the Dinan S3-R 1M doesn’t feel like a dream, it feels like a realistic goal you haven’t achieved yet. It isn’t a car you put a poster of on your wall that it might serve as the vector for ludicrous misappraisals about your own potential and self-worth, it’s a car that makes you want to get out there and make things happen. It’s the real car people should aspire to drive.

But of course, you have to find a BMW 1-Series M Coupe to make it happen. And that’s no easy task.

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11 Comments on “Ur-Turn: So Close, Yet So Far Away...”


  • avatar

    CTS V sport

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      Nah. Too much junk in the trunk.

      CTS V Curb weight = 4200 lbs

      BMW 1M = 3300 lbs.

      Power to weight ratio FTW!

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        Playing the Devil’s advocate here, CTS-V at 4250lbs and 556hp the power to weight is 262 hp/ton and the 1M at 3300 lbs and 340HP is 206 hp/ton. So even by power to weight the CTS-V still wins.

        However, even after clearing up that fact, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I would choose the 1M over the proposed CTS-V in a heartbeat. For me, light weight has a quality all of its own that transcends such hard calculations. For me, my idea of a good car is not a giant land whale with a Saturn V rocket. In fact, even the 1M is far too large and heavy for my tastes. If I were given the choice of the 1M or CTS-V I would choose neither and gladly drive off into the sunset with my little 2,500lbs RX-7 with a blissful grin on my face.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Power to weight in the double digits, power to drag in the triples. Silver state classic car is the V. Half skilled track day I’d go for Godzilla, but the vette would be better once I learned. Auto cross/hwy 1 would be a Tuner Miata or (just because it looked fun today) a nice NSX. What the heck a tuner 1m is for… Do that in private.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    That was like walking into a teenage boy’s room unannounced. Lock the door next time.

  • avatar
    319583076

    “It isn’t a car you put a poster of on your wall that it might serve as the vector for ludicrous misappraisals about your own potential and self-worth, it’s a car that makes you want to get out there and make things happen.”

    Well said!

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    wow — nice car . I can see why you would label it as an aspirational car — at least for sports car enthusiasts..

  • avatar
    MK

    Honestly I’ve never heard of this car before and the article didn’t quite inspire me enough to go and do so now.
    no worries, probably not in the target demographic anyway.
    :)

  • avatar

    The press car is up for sale on the SFBay craigslist.

    I’ll post a link below, but I’m pretty sure it’ll get stripped out.

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/4515953455.html

    sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/4515953455.html

    That said, the Dinan web page indicates that the Stage 4 (444hp N54) is NOT street legal. The Stage 3 tops out under 400hp…

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