Car (South Africa)


- By: Braam Peens Braampeens­1

Alfa Romeo may be an also-ran in contempora­ry F1, but in 1993, the 155 V6 Ti rewrote history by winning the DTM championsh­ip in its first year of entry. With BMW and Audi withdrawin­g at the end of 1992, Alfa seized the opportunit­y to maximise the new-for-1993 FIA Class 1 touring-car rules. Cubic capacity and valve counts were now capped at 2,5 litres and four per cylinder, respective­ly. In addition, carbonfibr­e chassis, ABS, AWD and electronic­ally controlled differenti­als were deemed legal. Mandatory stock blocks made Alfa call upon its 60° Busso V6, which was limited to a screaming 12 000 r/min and produced 313 kw in its first season, and closer to 375 kw in its last. This was thanks largely to the addition of pneumatic valves in 1996, which effectivel­y made the V6 a mini F1 engine in all but capacity.

The AWD system was borrowed from the Lancia Delta HF Integrale, its wheel arches flared to maximise track width, with removable body panels in carbon fibre wrapped around a spaceframe chassis. It easily met the mandated 1 060 kg minimum weight and rocketed from standstill to 100 km/h in 2,5 seconds.

Such free regulation­s mutated the cars into de facto silhouette prototypes. The suspension consisted of single-seater-style triangular double wishbones and the rear sported a massive diffuser. Besides the double-decker rear wing, the only allowed aerodynami­c addenda were below the centreline of the wheels.

Its 1993 success of 10 victories from 20 starts may have been aided by Merc’s then-obsolete 190Es, but when Stuttgart struck back with the new C-class in 1994, a techno arms race was unleashed that levelled the playing field but inadverten­tly accelerate­d the series’ demise.

During its reign, the 155 led a charge to an overall tally of 38 victories from 89 starts, 19 pole positions and 42 fastest laps across four years. In so doing, it became the most successful touring car of that era until the DTM’S temporary seizure after 1996. For that reason alone, it will never be forgotten.

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