If you’re anything like me – and chances are good if you’re reading this – you’ve spent countless hours perusing the depths of Google Images, scouring for sources of inspiration on an endless quest, trudging through the chest-deep masses of cool stuff buried on the web. For us BMW fans, there are a few images we’ve all likely saved to our harddrives; images that go down in the BMW Hall of Fame. There’s the airborne CSL, the tire-lifting 02, and a myriad of famous shots featuring our beloved E30 M3 DTM cars. Rounding out what I assume must be on everyone’s list of all-time-favs is the airborne M1 rally car: a juxtaposition so wild that even now, almost 40 years later, it’s hard to imagine anyone launching an M1 towards the skies… in the dirt.
That M1 was, in fact, the most powerful rally car in the world at one point in time. The masterminds at BMW never anticipated the car would be used in such a fashion, instead intending for it to run competitively in Group 5, which it failed to do. BMW of France, though, saw potential in the chassis, and with the popularity of rally racing in Europe in the early 1980s, it was an obvious choice for Hughes de Chaunac’s Oreca team. It may not have been the best of choices, though. The M1 had a career best finish of 2nd place, in its final race – but the victory was predicated by the M1 breaking down and failing to finish in almost every race prior, for three seasons straight. The M1 proved unreliable, however, it did have other strengths.
The M1 was one of the coolest rally cars of the era, wins or losses aside. As automotive history looks back, success is undoubtedly what writes the history books, but it’s all-out style that defines the most memorable cars. For example, the Moby Dick 935 – perhaps one of the most famous and idolized race cars of all time – suffered engine problems in its Le Mans debut, taking home 8th place, and only one career win. Few cars looked as good as the BMW, sliding through the dirt and around hairpin corners.
I’ve often said “what good is going fast if you don’t look good doing it?” It’s a bit of a motto I devised for myself – sometimes as an excuse, and other times, as an ethos, but always in truth. Cars, including race cars, are best when existing in a balance between function and form. Race cars are about more than going fast – they’re about looking good as well. And from the hours spent on google, and amonst the hundreds of photos saved, stockpiling away folders of cool race cars to serve as inspiration, I began to notice a trend. From the original Schnitzer E9 CSL, to the Bastos-liveried E30 M3, and the French Group A E24s, I’ve continued to find Motul playing a key role in each machine. Emblazoned on the hood of Marc Sourd’s Super Production M5 – the very car that prompted the build of my own E28 track car – are those 5 familiar letters. Coincidence? Anything is possible. But then again, racing is what Motul eats, sleeps, and breathes.
It stems beyond BMW, too. In the world of classic front wheel drive race cars, the ’87 Motul Civic Si is easily one of the most memorable and recognizable cars of its class. Recalling back to the early days of Gran Turismo, and it’s easy to remember the car, adorned in the evolving Motul colorway, as a class favorite. Seeing the car idolized in a permanent 3D arrangement of pixels, I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
There’s the JGTC-spec R34, standing as one of the most famous Japanese race cars in recent years. So famous, in fact, that it has been idolized not only in the form of many die cast models, RC cars, and posters, but in digital art by Andrew too, long before we even noted the trend. With each passing decade, Motul has managed to find involvement with some of the most prolific cars of each generation. Today, their namesake is emblazoned upon the sides of the GTR, and more, leaving us to wonder what this generation’s example will be when we look back upon history.
But in looking back upon some of our favorites, this article is about more than just liveries, colorways, and classic cars. It’s about more than branding, logos, and selling oil. It’s a closer look at Motul’s unwavering support of the world of motorsports, and in turn, of automotive enthusiasm as a whole. For more than 60 years, Motul has focused its efforts in racing, utilizing the race track not only as a laboratory and proving ground, but as their office, their conference table, and their marketing room. Through close relationships with marques like Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Subar, McLaren, Suzuki, Aprilia, MV Agusta, Brabus, and more, Motul, for years, has let racing speak for them.
That of course goes to say that Motul’s motorsports oils are unparalleled. The 300V Motorsport lineup is heralded as some of the best oil money can buy: it stands above any existing OEM approvals, and is a true 100% synthetic oil built specifically for the most demanding race cars on the planet. It’s decades in the making, and it’s what the brand has become synonymous with. But with that, there’s a side of Motul that sometimes struggles to shine through. It takes peering through the racing history, the pedigree, and the brand’s love of all things internal combustion to find oil for the layman too. Behind the mountain of trophies and podium finishes, both two-wheeled and four, is a company that makes oils to support folks like you and I.
While many brands in the past 50 years have evolved into a beaurocratic mess of balancing budgets with PR and family-friendly ads that hardly feature a car, Motul has held true to their roots. It’s almost possible to mistake them as enthusiasts first and an oil brand second. Or prehaps that’s the case. And simply put, that’s why we’re here, and why this piece exists. We’re here to celebrate a brand that celebrates the things we love. Almost 10 years ago, we here at StanceWorks set out to build a brand of our own, and as opportunities arrive to partner with the best, we’ve taken them. Although we fancy ourselves as race car drivers in our deepest slumber, we’re little more than consumers with passion for our machines. But just like the race car drivers, Motul is here to embrace us – the entire StanceWorks community – too. Without further adieu, we’re thrilled to join forces with Motul. Stay tuned for what’s to come. Maybe you’ll spot us at SEMA.