Last Lap delves into DTM’s rich history as we pick five iconics from the 1980s and 1990s era of German Touring Car racing.
Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, or DTM, was a period within the German Touring Car series included some of the most breathtaking and revolutionary machinery.
From fire-breathing Sierra’s, to delicately-designed GT Coupes, the years spanning 1984 to 1996 are forever ingrained as a historic era for touring cars.
In this piece, we count down five of our most iconic cars which raced door-to-door.
5) Alfa Romeo 155 V6
Being the only Italian manufacturer to see success in the DTM, Alfa Romeo need to create a real monster to stand out from the crowd.
The 155 was Alfa’s big breakthrough. It was a machine that would show the world what the Italians were capable of creating in the world of homologation Group A touring car racing.
Between 1993 and 1996, the 155 contested the front of the grid on a frequent basis.
The 155’s first championship came in 1993, followed up by narrowly losing out in the 1994 season.
With an impressive 38-win tally at the end of its four year run, the 155 stands as one of the most iconic sounds and shapes within Class 1 touring car racing in the early ’90s.
4) Ford Sierra RS500
Ford’s entry known as the ‘Cossie’ was so influential, it changed the future of the DTM forever. The fire breathing, turbo charged monster laid waste to its competition in the late eighties, consequently beating out the far superiorly funded Mercedes and BMW factory entries in 1988.
Ford built the RS500 to specifically give themselves an instant race winning platform for Class 1 racing in 1986. Towards the end of the 1987 season however, Ford released a new model to the public with a tuned rear wing as well as an extra 100 horsepower which would allow them to bring these upgrades to the track.
They would dominate the 1988 season across Europe, but especially in Germany with German driver, Klaus Ludwig at the wheel.
Lead driver Klaus Ludwig finished the 1988 season with a 16 point gap back to the chasing Mercedes factory driver Roland Asch. The team would withdraw from the series after the banning of Turbo charged engines in 1991.
3: Audi Quattro
Audi’s reputation in motorsport has always been one of the brand’s priorities. Be it the World Rally Championship, Super Touring Cars, DTM, GT racing or Le Mans prototypes. The brand has always been at the top of elite level motorsport.
One of the brand’s crowning jewels in its illustrious motorsport crown is the 1990 DTM championship which was won in the infamous V8-powered four-wheel drive Audi Quattro, piloted by German driver Hans Stuck.
Audi started their first of many championship years on the back foot with a poor showing in the season-opener at Zolder. The tight and twisty layout played against the big, heavy Audi.
Against all odds however, and the assistance of the Mercedes factory team having an awful season, the Audi entry, backed up by two other entries for the final races, was within a shot at the final event of the year in Kyalami.
Audi managed the race perfectly after their main rival was taken out by future seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher in the final race.
Audi claimed the first of many championships with the odds stacked against them, forcing the Audi V8 into DTM history alongside its main pilot, Hans Stuck.
2) Mercedes-Benz C Class W202
Mercedes are quite possibly the most famous manufacturer associated to the DTM alongside their German counterpart, BMW. The Mercedes C Class was a real step up compared to BMW’s entry in the mid ’90s.
With next to nothing left untouched from the road-going version, the C Class became a dominant force throughout the 1994 and the 1995 season.
As millions were invested in the project, an engine tuned to nearly 400 horsepower, a race-designed gearbox and a different suspension setup, these ingredients were combined to create a dominant force that stunned the rest of the field.
The 1994 campaign was a hotly-contested year alongside Italian rival Alfa Romeo, with controversy in nearly every race throughout the season.
The German outfit would eventually win the Drivers’ Championship with Klaus Ludwig on 222 points, compared to the closest Alfa Romeo driven by Nicola Larini on just 150.
A year after run a similar story, with the dominant C Class showed its form yet again and was dominant from start-to-finish; very few points were dropped in comparison to previous seasons.
The Mercedes factory team came away victorious with Bernd Schneider behind the lead car, beating their closest rival Opel with their Calibra by 58 points.
1) BMW E30 M3
This cult classic packaged ingenious engineering, an iconic shape and some of the most recognisable liveries in the history of motorsport. The BMW factory entered the E30 M3 and almost without competition when it comes to recognisably and dominance in the series.
With championships in the 1987 and 1989 series, the M3 quickly became a fan-favourite and an almost unbeatable nemesis of every other team.
However, the M3 was one of the rarer examples of consistency in this era. The E30 platform stayed competitive throughout the majority of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
It was not until the major rule change in 1992 that the M3 faded away as BMW pulled their factory entry. The M3 continued onwards the hands of privateers in 1993, which then evolved into the E36 in 1994.
The E30 M3 will always be remembered as one of the most iconic cars in the history of the DTM.
With liveries that have stood the test of time, and are constantly replicated, the E30 M3 has its place solidified in the history books of the touring car discipline.
That’s our top five list! If you have any other legendary cars you think we missed, tweet us over at @LastLapMag and we’d love to hear them.