BMW Super Tourer - BMW Works Car driven by Peter Kox and finished 2nd in 1995 ADAC German Touring Car Championship.
The E36 3 series marked a new dawn for BMW and a significant departure from the much loved E30 3 series that had proven to be so dominant on the forecourt and the starting grid. Some welcomed the move to a more modern shape, updated mechanicals and new style interior but others felt that the intimacy and driving dynamics of the E30 had been lost; almost as if BMW had taken one step forward but two steps backwards.
Time of course is a great healer and it is probably only now that the E36 is starting to be recognised for the great car it was. To be fair, it had huge shoes to fill. Over the course of its 11 year production run, the E30 3 series became the most desirable small executive car in the world and obliterated almost every competitor it faced on the track.
When the E36 hit the roads in 1992 times were changing in more ways than one. Britain was still gripped by recession and shifting metal off garage forecourts wasn't easy. On the track, a new tin top racing class was in the throws of being created - Super Touring. Almost every major car manufacturer had a two-litre family sized car in its range that everybody recognised. The old adage of win on Sunday, sell on Monday was undeniably attractive for the manufactures so the 1993 season marked the dawn of a ferocious battle amongst the likes of Vauxhall, Alfa, Nissan, Audi, Peugeot and BMW that raged for almost a decade and across most of the globe. BMW's new 3 series, in the guise of the 318i, was at the forefront of that battle.
BMW enlisted the help of Schnitzer to run its factory works program and by 1995 the 318i was utterly dominant. It was probably the most successful Super Touring car of that year. The four cylinder, 285 BHP, 16 valve engined 318i claimed no fewer than five national championships in Australia, Belgium, France and Germany. Whether you were in the stands, or sitting in your armchair in front of the TV, hordes of motor racing fans were gripped by the wheel to wheel, bumper to bumper racing in cars that to them, looked exactly like those parked in the street outside. In many ways, Super Touring racing put F1 to shame.
Looks can of course be deceiving. Whilst the cars looked the same as those on the school run, underneath they were very, very different. The manufacturers were battling it out and propelling the cars round the circuit with increasingly bigger budgets, exotic materials, and top-end engineering. Extensive use of carbon fibre, light weight metals, special electronics and heavily re-worked chassis were common place.
The car which now sits proudly in the Classic Heroes collection and is shown here was built by Schnitzer for BMW in March 1995 and competed in the ADAC German Super Touring Car Championship. It's sister chassis, Car No.8 was driven by smokin Jo Winkelhock and went on to claim 6 victories and the overall championship by 8 points. Our car was piloted by Dutchman, Peter Kox (car No.9 / chassis No.022) and eventually finished the season as runner up to Winkelhock. Kox claimed 5 second places and a total of 7 podiums and was a model of consistency. The 1996 season saw the car move to Asia where it competed in the South East Asia Touring Car Zone Challenge and was driven by Charles Wang. It finished the season as runner up again having claimed 3 outright wins and 6 podiums.
We feel incredibly privileged to be the custodians of such an important BMW Works competition car from arguably one of the most fantastic era's of tin top racing. Chassis No.022 has led a charmed life and been fortunate enough to have seen enough action at the front of the grid and no time in the Armco. It retains all of its important Schnitzer Works parts and trick components. It is in as new, race ready state and we are looking forward to seeing it back in the heat of battle - watch this space!