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The Glory Years of DTM: Part 1: 1984 – 1985

Submitted by on December 20, 2017

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica.com

Over the next few posts we’re going to indulge in a retrospective of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series. In this first part we head all the way back to the origins of the championship in 1984, a period which fielded some properly cool cars.

The German touring car championship Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, German Touring car Masters, can be best described as ‘Racing as it should be.’ The championship is nowadays considered the highest level a driver can reach in touring car racing.

In this series of three articles we feature the first 25 glorious years of the championship, when the cars that raced were race versions of cars that could practically be bought by anyone at a local dealer. Nowadays the series is considered the most sophisticated touring car championship in the world and features what are practically single-seater cars, equipped with silhouette-style body work, so it’s a very different beast to the series’ beginnings.

Germany and motorsports are inextricably connected and the German brands (Audi, BMW, Opel & Mercedes and Porsche) wrote history from the very start. During the early ’70s the German DRM (Deutsche Rennsport-Meisterschaft) was popular with drivers and motorsports fans, originally meant for FIA Group 2 Touring cars.

Cars from BMW, Ford and Porsche participated in the early days of the championship. From 1977 FIA Group 5 turbocharged cars were allowed and included machines like the mighty Ford Capri Zakspeed Turbo, BMW 320i Group 5, BMW M1 Turbo, Toyota Celica Turbo and Lancia Beta Montecarlo. The mighty Group 5 cars were replaced by Group C-sports cars back in 1982, but due to very high costs the grids became smaller.

This led the German ONS (Supreme National Sports Commission) to develop regulations for more cost-effective series touring cars, which in turn led to the introduction of FIA Group A vehicles.

In its first two years the DTM (still known as DPM) tried, through different vehicle weights and pull widths, to adjust driving performance. In the European championships three motor hubs were used as up to 1600cm³, up to 2500cm³ and over 2500cm³.

In the series’ first year, seven different cars scored victories, including Rover Vitesse, BMW 635 CSi, BMW 325i, Alfa Romeo GTV6, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Volvo 240 Turbo.

In 1984 the DTM celebrated its debut as a German production car championship, using series-based Group A touring cars along with a sophisticated handicap system. German Volker Strycek was crowned as the first ever DTM Champion, securing the title in a BMW 635 CSI without winning a single one of the 15 races held that year. The BMW 635 CSi in Group A specification was equipped with a 3,430 cc water-cooled six cylinder engine, creating around 290 hp and capable of a top speed of 250 km / h.

In 1985 the championship became international, allowing turbo charged engines. To ensure the balance between the turbocharged cars, which developed much more horsepower, and the naturally aspirated engines, handicap regulations continued.

A non-German brand would go on to claim the title. The Volvo 240 Turbo, nicknamed the flying brick, proved to be very fast. Within the international Group A regulations participating cars were taken directly from the assembly line and a minimum of 5000 cars had to be built. Swedish driver Per Stureson was able to defeat the massive German competition and claimed the 1985 title.

The series continued to evolve rapidly over the following years, and we’ll pick the story up in 1986 in a few days.

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