2024 Intro

There’s nothing better than a classic race car – with proper pedigree – that’s been restored to better-than-new condition. Especially when that race car comes from the golden era of touring car racing.

But not all race cars are treated to such a pampered retirement. Obviously, some never make it to retirement at all. And then there are the cars that changed hands multiple times after their heyday, with each owner adding some history – for better or for worse. This is one of those cars, and 10 years on from its original Speedhunters feature, its story is still fascinating. Let’s wind the clock back for another look…


2014 Feature

I like museums, especially automotive ones. They are special places to visit; to soak up history and examine periods in time that have been perfectly encapsulated by the items on display.

But there’s always a touch of sadness when I see a race car lifted for all to admire, its once cutting-edge suspension and brakes are now redundant as it poses for photos. Maybe there’s a video wall nearby acting as a constant reminder of its great achievements, or a soundtrack that loops engine noise through the space. You know the drill…

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Then there are the renegades – the escapees – the ones that got away into the wild. Left to fend for themselves, without factory or big-team support, old race cars can often mutate into the most incredible creations. The sort you’d never dare even consider when looking at a factory-produced race car.

But when you find one a couple of decades down the line, it really is a wonderful thing.

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You are probably thinking: ‘This can’t be a real DTM car,’ right? That’s exactly what it is. One that strayed from the party line a long time ago. If you’re cringing a little bit already, you probably won’t want to know that it once had a Chevy V8 mounted between its chassis legs.

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From this angle, you can see why people sometimes wonder if the engine is mid-mounted, as the large alloy ducting that helps air escape from the cooling hardware is so deep. The truth is, that the race series the M3 competes in allows the furthest part of the engine to be mounted no more than 200mm back from the bottom edge of the windscreen. So the BMW-sourced V8 can now sit way back, with that lovely stiff cross-bracing demonstrating how far behind the centre of the wheel line it is.

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I was told it was a crazy squeeze to get it in there, as witnessed by that air intake pipe that snakes into the front of the custom plenum. To get to it and administer any sort of maintenance requires dislocating limbs and removing half the hardware, but every misplaced kilo in a race car can make the crucial difference between well-balanced handling and a pitchy, unwanted and unmanageable setup.

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So what we have here is a rough and ready mash-up of factory-backed magnificence that has been taken into the darkness of some uniquely talented minds and morphed into this. It’s like an Olympic athlete who took a load of drugs, or maybe an old boxer who has mental power on his side after years in the ring.

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The more mechanically-minded amongst you will have worked out by now that there is also a turbo feeding the V8, which is mounted inside the alloy box you can see in the background of this picture. Yup, right where the passenger would have their legs. But then again, the logo on the side of the BMW is for GIK Turbo, one of Sweden’s longest-established, premier turbo specialists.

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The alloy box is another reminder that this isn’t a converted road car – it’s a gen-u-ine, straight-up race car that has never had a passenger seat. So why would it even matter if a turbo was placed where a useless bag of bones might perch?

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I’m a fan of old race cars in all shapes and forms – from immaculately preserved and maintained examples to these war-torn veterans. Neither is better. All have their qualities that draw me in. But I have a special respect for this BMW, and no matter how you feel about it, the fact is, it’s out there kicking ass on the track rather than staring out of a glass box at tourists all day…

Which do you prefer?

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: brynmusselwhite

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