TWO LITRE TERRORS

FROM 1992 TO 2000, THE WORLD TOUR­ING CAR CHAM­PI­ONSHIP RES­ONATED TO THE SOUND OF SCREAM­ING NAT­U­RALLY AS­PI­RATED 2.0-LITRES. WITH A GROW­ING NUM­BER OF THESE SU­PER TOUR­ERS END­ING UP IN NEW ZEALAND, WE TAKE A LOOK AT FIVE OF THE BEST

NZ Performance Car - - Historic Touring Cars Spotlights - D OPIE RICHAR S: PHOTO AND WORDS

Un­doubt­edly, many read­ers look back fondly on the Group A era of tour­ing cars. This was a time of gen­er­ous ad­vance­ment in turbo tech­nol­ogy and motorsport elec­tron­ics, and, of course, it gave birth to a seg­ment of per­for­mance pro­duc­tion cars so trea­sured by those look­ing to quench their thirst for speed. But, after the 1992 sea­son, Group A was dead — and the for­mula that re­placed it on a global scale was aptly named Su­per Tour­ing, but the base cars were any­thing but su­per in pro­duc­tion form.

In brief, the rules dic­tated that the base ve­hi­cle must be a four-door sedan, with a min­i­mum length of 4.2m. En­gines were re­stricted to 2.0-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, with a max­i­mum of six cylin­ders, and man­u­fac­tur­ers were re­quired to pro­duce 25,000 of which­ever model they wished to ho­molo­gate. The cre­ation of ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials was, thus, a costly, point­less ex­er­cise, and the re­sult was the ap­pear­ance of cars like the Ford Mon­deo, Nis­san Primera, Toy­ota Ca­rina, and Peu­geot 405 as se­ries par­tic­i­pants.

Bland, bor­ing, dad-mo­biles the cars may have been in stock form, but, when built to Su­per Tour­ing rules, the ve­hi­cles and the rac­ing were any­thing but. Tar­mac-scrap­ing ride heights, slick-shod 18- or 19-inch wheels, and high­strung power plants lim­ited to 8500rpm en­sured that the cars pro­vided a vis­ual and au­ral spec­ta­cle. The take-no-pris­on­ers, door-bang­ing, kerb-hop­ping na­ture of the rac­ing also proved hugely pop­u­lar, and a new era of leg­endary tin-top bat­tles was born.

Decades on, and, pop­u­lar­ity of the His­toric Tour­ing Cars NZ group of en­thu­si­asts is grow­ing, we’re now lucky enough to be wel­com­ing an in­flux of these su­per tour­ers into New Zealand, which are join­ing the grid for se­lect sum­mer meet­ings.

If you’re won­der­ing, the His­toric Tour­ing Cars NZ group, founded around 10 years ago by a small group of rac­ers in­ter­ested in run­ning their valu­able Group A cars to­gether, fo­cuses on ‘gen­uine’ tour­ing cars with race his­tory, span­ning the years from around 1972 to the mid to late ’90s. This en­sures an eclec­tic group of cars, although it pre­dom­i­nantly at­tracts Group A and Su­per Tour­ing cars — the lat­ter grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as the Group A cars’ pur­chase price grows ever larger, while the 2.0-litres re­main slightly more af­ford­able. Ev­ery car is turned out im­mac­u­lately and raced with vigour, en­abling spec­ta­tors to see and hear an au­then­tic tour­ing car blast-from-the-past.

So read on, as we de­tail the past and present of some of the coolest his­toric race hard­ware found any­where through­out our land.

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