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
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.