1993 BMW 318i (E36)
Any story about touring car racing would be empty without including BMW, the manufacturer most indelibly linked with global production-based touring car series. After a dominant period across the world in Group A racing with the iconic boxy silhouette of the E30 M3, the demise of that formula and the dawn of Super Touring saw BMW develop its new contender. While the initial E36s were two door, 1993 saw a regulations-compliant four-door variant of the E36 take to circuits worldwide to pick up where the E30 left off.
Later, BMW Motorsport developed the S42 2.0-litre for the express purpose of competing in Super Touring, but these earlier cars made do with a downsized variant of the S14 2.5-litre. The S14, of course, was the engine that powered several E30 M3s to race victories around the globe. In this smaller-displacement form, and limited to 8500rpm, the 2.0-litre manages 209 screaming kilowatts, assisted by the 13:1 compression ratio. These earlier cars really set the scene for Super Touring development. Snuggled in a typically utilitarian motorsport engine bay, BMW’s four-slide throttles are fed by a carbon-fibre intake plenum producing prodigious intake roar.
As these are a 1993 car, ordinarily, the aero would have appeared far closer to that of a road car. However, creative interpretation of the rules by Alfa Romeo in 1994 meant that aero regulations became more relaxed, and cars sprouted updated splitters and spoilers by 1995. This Benson and Hedges (B&H) car wears the updated aero, which only enhances the slammed ride height and 18-inch Speedline centre-lock wheels. Other period inclusions to these cars are the Holinger six-speed sequential and the Pi Research dash display and data-acquisition unit located in a factory dash shell.
Starting life in 1993 running in Italy, this BMW 318i found its way over to Australia in the care of Tony Longhurst’s stable for the 1994 championship. It was plastered in Longhurst’s distinctive B&H livery, and he went on to take out the series for that year — inclusive of an infamous trackside punch-up with Paul Morris following a spot of paint swapping that put both drivers into the wall at Winton. Subsequently, the car spent several years with varied ASTCC privateers, before being imported into New Zealand in 2003 by Lindsay O’Donnell, who initially campaigned it in South Island endurance races. With the surge in Historic Touring Car interest, the BMW has now been completely restored to 1994 specification.