Why Was The Super Touring Car Era So Iconic

The demise of the Group A touring cars birthed one of the most exciting eras in touring car history. The ‘2 Litre Formula’ or ‘Super Touring Car’ as we know today. 2 decades after the classes demise in the UK and around the world, the era is still revered and admired for its door-to-door exciting racing, with at one point in the BTCC there were 10 factory backed teams from household brands, such as Ford, Renault, Audi, Volvo and more which made up the grid!

We have an iconic Super Touring Car in our Showroom in Wrexham North Wales! Come on down to have a look…

The Birth Of Super Touring Cars

Following the rebrand from the ‘British Saloon Car Championship’ in 1987 to ‘The British Touring Car Championship’ the series was enjoying huge success and saw large audiences and TV coverage at each round up and down the UK. However, despite this success, a problem was taking shape, mainly in the form of championship cost, which was an increasing issue for teams wanting to enter. 

In 1990 these issues came to a head and 2 of the sport’s biggest names at the time: driver Andy Rouse and team owner David Richards from Prodrive, hatched the idea of the now infamous 2-litre formula class. Which, as the name suggests, each competition car was only allowed up to a 2-litre engine. These engines would have no more than 6 cylinders and 2 wheel drive (until Audi rocked up with their 4 wheel drive Quattro – but we will get to this later…). Turbocharging was suggested as a way to increase power but this was squashed by BMW in favour of natural aspiration only with a 8500rpm rev limit. The choice of engine remained free – meaning a manufacturer could use any motor from anywhere within the same manufacturer’s range of engines as long as the 2-litre rule was adhered to.

This was done to reduce overall costs, as manufacturers didn’t need to specially homologate a car. Even so, the cars cost a similar amount to build as before. The fans were also considered as this formula was devised to improve the racing, despite the cars now having less power they were lighter, with better brakes and grip, so lap records from the Group A era were soon bettered by this new Super Touring Car category.

The Super Touring Cars Entrance

The first year of Super Touring Cars (1990) were run alongside a second class of car, which included, among others, the much more powerful Ford Sierra RS500, which took the title that year – following this year in 1991 only cars adhering to the Super Touring Car regulations were allowed to compete.

A race car on a track

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

The ‘Super Touring’ category was adopted by nearly every touring car championship across the world, replacing Group A class cars. The importance of this series was highlighted in Germany as the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), which was held in high regard as heralding some of the best and most competitive saloon car racing, was turned into the German Super Tourenwagen Cup (STW) series to accommodate this ‘Super Touring Car’ category. This ran from 1994 to 1999 and aimed to again be more affordable for teams. This was until the series’ downfall in 2000 where the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) resumed with 4.0-litre V8-powered cars.

Two race cars on a track

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

In the UK, this new formula ran on its own from 1991, and it proved popular, by the 1993 season there were 8 factory teams on the grid. These included Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Mazda, Renault, and Ford. 

The mid 90s saw Audi enter the fray in both the BTCC and the German Super Tourenwagen Cup with astonishing results, coming from one model of car…

Audi A4 Super Tourer

Introduced in 1995, the A4 Quattro was used in the German ADAC Super Tourenwagen Cup after succeeding the Audi 80 Quattro in 1994. Audi brought in a host of drivers at the top of their game, including Frank Biela and Hans-Joachim Stuck, placing 3rd and 4th in the championship in 1995 respectively. (Spoiler – Hans’ 4th place car is the one we have in our showroom!).

In the UK, it was 1995 that Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, then head of Audi Sport, made the decision to put the brand in the BTCC via Audi Sport UK with John Bintcliffe and Frank Biela as drivers for the 1996 season. The team was run autonomously but the car was built and developed by Audi Sport in Germany. This restricted the UK team somewhat as they could not adapt the car to local circuits, beyond suspension and differential settings. However, this meant the car operated within its boundary’s meaning reliability was excellent, Audi Sport UK managed to finish every race that season which helped them to numerous victories and winning the drivers, manufacturers, and teams championship that year.

A Natural Progression

The A4 was a logical step from the 80 with many aspects making the A4 more successful – both the 80 and A4 were 4-wheel drive but the A4 had some other immediate benefits, for example, a shorter body length but a longer wheelbase and wider tracks, also with uprated suspension enhanced the handling. The car was also more aerodynamic than its predecessor with the homologated aero package proving extremely effective on track versus its adversaries.

It was these benefits which allowed it to be competitive and pick up where the previous car, the ‘80’ left off, winning the touring car title in Italy in 1995 and the 1996 Italian and UK BTCC title. The A4 also took many wins in the German and French touring car championships. 

However, the A4 wasn’t without its shortcomings as it was one of the slowest cars on the grid. It had 290bhp from a 2-litre four-cylinder engine and a sequential 6 speed transmission. Renault’s Laguna made over 300bhp and Ford’s V6 was pushing over 310bhp. After the spell of successful results and a dominant BTCC championship win in 1996, the BTCC added 95kg of ballast to the car for 1997 in a bid to keep the racing close, where Audi came a fairly distant but respectable 2nd, then in 1998 4 wheel drive was banned and Audi lost the main advantage it had, as it was battling other cars/manufacturers with more power. This was the main reason Audi decided to leave the championship.

The Demise Of Super Touring Cars

The Super Touring Car series lasted for just 5 years in the Super Tourenwagen Cup and 11 years in the BTCC. The main reason was cost. Although the idea was for the Super Touring Car category to be more affordable than before because of rigid regulations, this quickly spiralled out of control with constant development on the cars. 

By the late 1990s both Ford and Volvo were spending in excess of £10 million to develop and run two cars over certain years to bring to track and run in the BTCC. This was the catalyst for teams to depart the championship. At its peak there were 10 factory teams fighting for the title, this dwindled down to 3 for the final full season of Super Touring Cars in 2000. 

Today the BTCC is tightly cost regulated and full of standardised parts and components meaning we may never see the same level of manufacturers and brands represented in the BTCC again.

Come And See The Car For Yourself

We at Demon Tweeks loved this era of touring cars, so much so we have one of the most iconic cars from the era in our showroom in Wrexham North Wales! Come on down to have a look for yourself and do a bit of shopping at the same time 😉

As mentioned earlier, the car in our showroom is that very car Hans placed 4th overall in for the 1995 German ADAC Super Tourenwagen championship. It is Chassis number ST07, an original Quattro from early in the car’s lifecycle. After 1995 the car went to South Africa to compete in the Super Car Championship, then on to claim numerous pieces of silverware. In 2011 Angel Bello won the Canary Islands Championship before it was purchased in 2014 and placed 13th in the hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Most recently, it was purchased by its current owners who have raced it in many touring car challenges over the years.

Enjoyed this? Read more of our latest news:

Where To Next?

Looking for more present inspiration? Check out our wide selection of gifts.

Come and visit us at our store, showroom and fitting centre in Wrexham.

Want to know more about our story? Learn about who we are and why we’ve been driven by passion for over 50 years.

Interested in everything we do? Catch up on all the latest Demon Tweeks news.

Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.