About a month ago, we showed you a video tribute to the golden age of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). It was a period where modified but still-production based BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and others went door handle to door handle in front of an enthusiastic worldwide audience. However, beginning with the 1994 season, series organizers fully implemented the FIA’s Class 1 touring car regulations and, if you ask us, the results were just as magical (but in a different sort of way).
Unlike the earlier Group A touring cars, the Class 1 models merely looked like their street legal Alfa Romeo 155, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Opel Calibra counterparts. Underneath, they were pure racing cars with naturally-aspirated 2.5L V6s that revved to well over 12,000 rpm, sequential transmissions and, in the case of the Alfas and Opels, all-wheel drive. And if that wasn’t enough, they were crammed full of cutting edge tech, most of which had, ironically, been banned from Formula 1 with the start of the 1994 season. Gizmos like ABS, traction control, active suspension, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics and even active ballast became the norm. Naturally, costs exploded, particularly after the series went global in 1996 under the name ITC. Manufacturers lost interest, and the FIA was under pressure to keep it from outshining F1 (much like it had been with the World Sportscar Championship in 1992), so the plug was pulled at the end of ’96. But while this series that was equal parts NASCAR, Can-Am and Formula 1 (with a sprinkling of BattleBots thrown in for good measure) may be gone, it sure as Scheiße ain’t forgotten.